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Wikipedia - about cars
A car is a wheeled, self-powered motor vehicle used for transportation and a product of the automotive industry. Most definitions of the term specify that cars are designed to run primarily on roads, to have seating for one to eight people, to typically have four wheels with tyres, and to be constructed principally for the transport of people rather than goods. The year 1886 is regarded as the birth year of the modern car. In that year, German inventor Karl Benz built the Benz Patent-Motorwagen. Cars did not become widely available until the early 20th century. One of the first cars that was accessible to the masses was the 1908 Model T, an American car manufactured by the Ford Motor Company. Cars were rapidly adopted in the United States of America, where they replaced animal-drawn carriages and carts, but took much longer to be accepted in Western Europe and other parts of the world.
Most motor oils are made from a heavier, thicker petroleum hydrocarbon base stock derived from crude oil, with additives to improve certain properties. The bulk of a typical motor oil consists of hydrocarbons with between 18 and 34 carbon atoms per molecule.7 One of the most important properties of motor oil in maintaining a lubricating film between moving parts is its viscosity. The viscosity of a liquid can be thought of as its "thickness" or a measure of its resistance to flow. The viscosity must be high enough to maintain a lubricating film, but low enough that the oil can flow around the engine parts under all conditions. The viscosity index is a measure of how much the oil's viscosity changes as temperature changes. A higher viscosity index indicates the viscosity changes less with temperature than a lower viscosity index.
Motor oil must be able to flow adequately at the lowest temperature it is expected to experience in order to minimize metal to metal contact between moving parts upon starting up the engine. The pour point defined first this property of motor oil, as defined by ASTM D97 as "... an index of the lowest temperature of its utility ..." for a given application,8 but the "cold cranking simulator" (CCS, see ASTM D5293-08) and "Mini-Rotary Viscometer" (MRV, see ASTM D3829-02(2007), ASTM D4684-08) are today the properties required in motor oil specs and define the SAE classifications.
Oil is largely composed of hydrocarbons which can burn if ignited. Still another important property of motor oil is its flash point, the lowest temperature at which the oil gives off vapors which can ignite. It is dangerous for the oil in a motor to ignite and burn, so a high flash point is desirable. At a petroleum refinery, fractional distillation separates a motor oil fraction from other crude oil fractions, removing the more volatile components, and therefore increasing the oil's flash point (reducing its tendency to burn).
Another manipulated property of motor oil is its Total base number (TBN), which is a measurement of the reserve alkalinity of an oil, meaning its ability to neutralize acids. The resulting quantity is determined as mg KOH/ (gram of lubricant). Analogously, Total acid number (TAN) is the measure of a lubricant's acidity. Other tests include zinc, phosphorus, or sulfur content, and testing for excessive foaming.
The NOACK volatility (ASTM D-5800) Test determines the physical evaporation loss of lubricants in high temperature service. A maximum of 14% evaporation loss is allowable to meet API SL and ILSAC GF-3 specifications. Some automotive OEM oil specifications require lower than 10%.
The oil then drips
In the crankcase of a vehicle engine, motor oil lubricates rotating or sliding surfaces between the crankshaft journal bearings (main bearings and big-end bearings), and rods connecting the pistons to the crankshaft. The oil collects in an oil pan, or sump, at the bottom of the crankcase. In some small engines such as lawn mower engines, dippers on the bottoms of connecting rods dip into the oil at the bottom and splash it around the crankcase as needed to lubricate parts inside. In modern vehicle engines, the oil pump takes oil from the oil pan and sends it through the oil filter into oil galleries, from which the oil lubricates the main bearings holding the crankshaft up at the main journals and camshaft bearings operating the valves. In typical modern vehicles, oil pressure-fed from the oil galleries to the main bearings enters holes in the main journals of the crankshaft. From these holes in the main journals, the oil moves through passageways inside the crankshaft to exit holes in the rod journals to lubricate the rod bearings and connecting rods. Some simpler designs relied on these rapidly moving parts to splash and lubricate the contacting surfaces between the piston rings and interior surfaces of the cylinders. However, in modern designs, there are also passageways through the rods which carry oil from the rod bearings to the rod-piston connections and lubricate the contacting surfaces between the piston rings and interior surfaces of the cylinders. This oil film also serves as a seal between the piston rings and cylinder walls to separate the combustion chamber in the cylinder head from the crankcase. The oil then drips back down into the oil pan.45
Motor oil may also serve as a cooling agent. In some constructions oil is sprayed through a nozzle inside the crankcase onto the piston to provide cooling of specific parts that undergo high temperature strain. On the other hand, the thermal capacity of the oil pool has to be filled, i.e. the oil has to reach its designed temperature range before it can protect the engine under high load. This typically takes longer than heating the main cooling agent ? water or mixtures thereof ? up to its operating temperature. In order to inform the driver about the oil temperature, some older and most high performance or racing engines feature an oil thermometer.
Due to its high viscosity, motor oil is not always the preferred oil for certain applications. Some applications make use of lighter products such as WD-40, when a lighter oil is desired, or honing oil if the desired viscosity needs to be mid-range.6