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Explain 'Time Release Additives' in Motor Oils
I've read a lot in the last few weeks regarding 'time release additives' in motor oils that suggest that some oil components only become active due to use, thus maintaining the engine protection for longer periods. Is there any truth in these claims? Does Mobil 1 contain such additives that only release their benefits after use/time in an engine? I noticed that Pennzoil Platinum has a 'Time release formula' and claims that certain anti-wear additives are activated as the oil ages. I'm obviously not asking for details on specific additives, just a general ideas as to if/how this process works. Many thanks.
-- Rich Price, Oahu, HI
Yes, almost all engine oils contain additives that could be described as time-release. This is clever advertising that highlights one of the properties that common antiwear additives exhibit. The antiwear additive ZDDP (Zinc DialkylDithioPhosphate) activates as it decomposes at hot metal surfaces and forms a glass-like protective layer on the metallic surface. There are also other additives such as viscosity modifiers which change their physical structure under certain condition in the engine and then go back to an earlier structure when the stress is removed from the molecule. There are also cleaning agents which can be released over time. And yes, Mobil 1 has all these “time released” additives as part of its additive package.