Lubricant Viscosity Effects on Passenger Car Fuel Economy 750675

As part of General Motors effort to improve fuel economy, the effects of engine and power train lubricant viscosities were investigated in passenger car tests using either high- or low- viscosity lubricants in the engine, automatic transmission, and rear axle. Fuel economy was determined in both constant speed and various driving cycle tests with the car fully warmed-up. In addition, fuel economy was determined in cold-start driving cycle tests.
Using low-viscosity lubricants instead of high-viscosity lubricants improved warmed-up fuel economy by as much as 5%, depending upon the differences in lubricant viscosity and type of driving. Cold-start fuel economy with low-viscosity lubricants was 5% greater than that with high-viscosity lubricants. With such improvements, it is concluded that significant customer fuel economy gains can be obtained by using the lowest viscosity engine and power train lubricants recommended for service. To determine if currently recommended engine oil, automatic transmission fluid, and rear axle lubricant viscosities can be reduced, extensive performance and durability testing will be required.


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