What Oil Looks like Inside an Engine at Minus 30 Degrees Celsius

  • Previously, the guys from Garage 54 showed us what the oil looks like inside a running car by molding a clear oil pan and bolting it onto an engine.
  • This time they added a layer of intrigue by freezing the car first, supercooling the oil in the process.
  • This shows how poorly some engines lubricate while managing extreme climates.

    Remember the folks that formed a clear oil pan for their Lada? Luckily for us, that wasn’t a one-and-done experiment. Instead, the team at Garage 54 went through the effort to refine the process of making clear oil pans and rocker covers to tackle more hard-hitting questions—namely, why an engine-block heater is a good idea in extremely cold climates.

    The video above shows they guys heading outside where temps were sitting at a balmy -30 degrees Celsius. (For those of us that subscribe to the studies of Daniel Gabriel Fahrenheit, that’s -22 degrees.) While incredibly cold, it’s not unusual for northern climates to sustain long snaps of brutally cold weather like this in the winter, which is why the Garage 54 team didn’t need a special chamber to run this experiment, the out-of-doors providing all the test lab they required.

    Oil operates like most fluids: the colder it gets, the closer to a solid it becomes. Despite Garage 54’s Lada struggling to start because of the cold, it’s obvious, too, that the oil does not want to move. During the few short stints that the guys get the Lada running, the oil almost didn’t budge at all. The timing chain was slinging some oil to the top half of the engine, but the oil pump was struggling to deal with the sludgy cold oil.

    Even if you live in Siberia, there are ways to prevent this from happening. The most obvious would be moving to a place that doesn’t get cold. If you’re stuck where it happens to freeze, you can always try to store your car in a climate-controlled garage or use an engine block heater to help keep your oil from turning into a solid. You also probably want to take it easy on your engine if your oil gets too; let it warm up for a few while keeping the revs and the load down.

    Regardless of your personal climate, watching what happens to cold oil inside of an engine is fascinating. Check it out above.

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