How Much Does Viscosity Matter?

Authored by: Allan Zieser, STLE, CLS


Viscosity is in fact, the most important property of any lubricant. Too thin of a lubricant and you do not get enough of a protective film on your machine’s components. Too thick of a lubricant and the oil cannot get to where it is needed to provide protection. In either case you end up with metal-to-metal contact of moving parts causing wear of the components in your equipment.


Temperature also plays a role in determining what viscosity of oil or grease is needed for your equipment. If you are running your equipment in a hot climate, you may need a thicker oil than listed. This is because oils get thinner with increased temperatures. So, if your equipment normally calls for and ISO 32 lubricant, we may need to move you to an ISO 46 lubricant so that it will be the correct thickness during the hot temperatures. If you are operating in a colder climate, we may need to go the other direction and recommend a thinner oil such as an ISO 22. This is because lubricants get thicker in colder temperatures and may not flow to the areas that we need them to.


So, how do we find out the correct viscosity for the lubricants that we need in our machines? The best source is your equipment’s manufacturer. They should provide you with a manual for your equipment that lists the type of oil or grease and its viscosity. Make sure that you read through your equipment manual as it is an invaluable source of information on the proper maintenance of your equipment.


Don’t have a manual?  Well, then, a quick call to the equipment manufacturer or supplier should provide the correct information that you need on lubricant viscosity and type. If that does not work, you can call your Ottsen Oil Expert with the equipment brand and model number. Here at Ottsen, we have a vast amount of data on many different machines and their lubrication needs that we can turn to. We also have years of experience in finding out the correct lubricants for many machines by their applications, operating temperatures, and speeds as well. We are here to help you with the proper lubricants for your equipment.



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