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The lowdown on lubricant

All kinds of mechanical equipment and machinery need a lubricant to protect them from the potentially harmful effects of friction. Whenever two surfaces meet, friction is produced and can cause wear and tear. It can also slow down movement and therefore adversely affect the efficiency of an engine or other system.

There is a range of lubricants on the market, each designed for a specific type of application and made by oil manufacturers including Aeroshell, Castrol, Kulber, Nynas, Quaker, Molykote, Panolin, Tygris and Valvoline, as well as the well-known oil giants like Mobil, Shell, Texaco and Total.

As use of the wrong product can damage an engine or machinery – and even possibly render your warranty void – it’s vital to know which grease or oil is best. Make sure you select only the right lubricants for your business by reading this helpful guide.

Grease or oil?

Lubricant products include both lubricating greases and lubricating oils. Although they are in many ways similar, each offers different benefits.

Lubricating grease

The obvious feature of grease is that it is semi-solid. Generally, it will be made from a base oil, to which certain ingredients have been added to give it particular properties that relate to its intended use. A thickening agent will also be present, and this is what differentiates a grease from an oil and ensures the grease forms a protective layer between moving parts.

Lubricating grease is typically used with gears, bearings and heavy duty machinery. Grease is the ideal choice if you need infrequent lubrication, to lubricate in extreme conditions or when seldom-used machinery must remain lubricated and be ready for use.

Using grease has some key advantages. It can ensure machinery is available and lubricated when it is required, and it can be invaluable for lubricating inaccessible or sealed parts and components – such as gearboxes. It is the best choice for low speed machinery, and is often preferred for machine parts that operate at high temperatures or pressures or are subject to heavy loading. Grease can also help to protect worn parts and components.

Lubricating oil

Like greases, a lubricant product in oil form will contain a mineral or synthetic base oil which offers versatile lubricating properties, plus additives that relate to the oil’s intended function. Oils typically offer low friction lubrication for systems under low strain.

Lubricating oil ensures efficient heat transfer as well as the continuous lubrication of moving parts, and thus is commonly used for vehicle engines, factory equipment, hydraulics systems and other moving mechanical parts.

Lubricating oil is a better choice than grease for certain applications and in specific conditions. Oil is more effective at transferring heat to the outside of the system, or where machinery needs one central oil supply for the simultaneous lubrication of multiple parts. Oil is also best when machinery requires frequent or continuous lubrication, and for those components that move at very fast speeds. If parts are easily accessible, then oil is a realistic lubricant choice.

Which lubricant?

There is huge range of lubricant greases and oils available, including automotive lubricants for cars, vans, motorcycles and agricultural vehicles to compressor, food safe, gear, hydraulic and metalworking products. The best way to begin is to pinpoint the intended application before selecting the right lubricant.

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