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Protecting Vehicles with Turbocharged Engines by Ray McDonald

We asked Ray McDonald, an Advanced Engineer, for Automotive Lubricants, based at ExxonMobil's Global Research & Engineering Center in Paulsboro, NJ, to help drivers understand why using a synthetic motor oils like Mobil 1™ is a much better option than using conventional oils when it comes to turbocharged engines.

In response to rising consumer demand for vehicles that offer more horsepower and enhanced fuel economy, the traditional internal combustion engine is undergoing a dramatic transformation as leading manufacturers create smaller vehicles with increasingly advanced engine designs.

One of the most notable changes in engine design is the growing use of turbo chargers in the mainstream automotive market. Traditionally, turbochargers were used to increase power output in high-performance engines. Today, however, they are being used by leading global auto manufacturers in everyday passenger vehicles, including compacts and sedans, as a means of increasing engine output while improving fuel economy.

While turbochargers are a great way to improve vehicle performance, they operate at extremely high temperatures. In order to protect critical turbocharger components at such elevated temperatures, a fully synthetic engine oil, such as Mobil 1, is highly recommended.


Testing their Performance

Mobil 1 technical experts from ExxonMobil Research and Engineering have conducted several proof-of-performance tests at their research facility in Paulsboro, New Jersey. Time and time again, the test results showed how Mobil 1 synthetic motor oil resists oxidation and the formation of deposits under high temperature conditions.

In one key benchmark test, engineers ran a turbocharged engine for about 375 hours while repeatedly turning it off to let the turbocharger soak. This action simulated real-world driving and put added thermal stress on the oil that remains inside the turbocharger while it is still extremely hot.

As the video below shows, while running under high boost conditions, the turbocharger and exhaust system were red hot, demonstrating the need for a motor oil that can withstand the extreme high temperatures at which they operate, such as Mobil 1 premium synthetic oil. During another test, ExxonMobil research engineers simulated high temperature piston deposit formation to compare the oxidative and thermal stability properties of a synthetic motor oil with those of a conventional motor oil. Oils of poorer oxidative and thermal stability will result in greater deposit formation, decreasing engine efficiency.

After three hours at 285°C (545°F), fully synthetic Mobil 1 maintained excellent deposit protection. By comparison, a conventional oil did not, resulting in significant deposits and exemplifying how synthetic motor oils offer better oxidation resistance than conventional oils, and hence why high quality synthetics are a better option for turbocharged engines

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