Using the right oil for your drive transmission makes it operate smoother, and helps reduce unnecessary wear to your drive. Transmission oil is made specifically to maintain the quality of your transmission, and its operability at sea.
What is transmission oil?
Transmission oil is a blend of base oil and additives. The distribution of these contents is usually about 65 percent to 35 percent, respectively. The additives have different characteristics that contribute to the oil’s properties:
- Enabling the oil to absorb a small amount of water, which can be caused by condensation as the oil heats up inside the transmission.
- Contributing to the oil’s ability to lubricate transmission components, reducing friction.
- Making the oil more resistant to high pressure, by means of EP-additives (EP = Extreme Pressure).
- Reducing changes in oil viscosity due to high and low temperatures.
Transmission oils are developed with great precision, and finding the optimal blend is a delicate process. The ingredients must work well together, without negating the characteristics of one another. Merely altering the quantity or concentration of a certain substance can have a significant impact on the overall product.
What are the key qualities of transmission oil?
Transmission oil is used to lubricate the moving components inside the transmission, and protect them from unnecessary wear and friction. When these components are covered with a layer of oil, steel-on-steel friction and other damages can be avoided. It also helps make the transmission shift quicker, smoother, and with greater stability, compared to other synthetic oils. At Volvo Penta, it is our experience that the effect is so significant that boat owners who replace a high-quality transmission oil with a cheaper and/or simpler oil often switch back.
All marine transmission oils need to be able to handle a certain amount of water (usually from condensation mist). The transmission oil will either repel the water, or absorb it without losing quality and texture. The oil also keeps the transmission clean by absorbing soot, dirt, and other contaminants. These are then effectively removed during oil changes.
Choosing the right oil for your drive transmission is essential
There are plenty of different oils and lubricants on the market. Regrettably, many of them cannot adequately handle the pressure of the drive transmission, or help it shift properly. What may suit a 75-80 horsepower outboard engine will not be enough for a 400 horsepower engine, and its torque, for example. Experimenting with different – and the wrong kinds of – oils can become unnecessarily costly, as they may damage the drive.
So, if in doubt about what oil you need for your boat’s transmission, consult the operator’s manual, or talk to your Volvo Penta dealer. Remember that an inadequate product that does not take proper care of your equipment is a risky (and potentially unnecessary) investment, regardless of its price. A high quality transmission oil will make sure your transmission runs as it should, keep it operational, and spare you from unnecessary maintenance or repairs.
Volvo Penta’s transmission oil recommendations
At Volvo Penta, we recommend our customers to change their transmission oil at least once every year, or after every two hundred operating hours. It is important to follow these service intervals to ensure operability, and the protection and quality of your drive. It can also be difficult to tell whether your transmission oil is rancid just by looking at or smelling it.
Volvo Penta’s own transmission oils suit our drives, both IPS and AQ, particularly well. Whereas a company that merely specializes in oils will just want to sell their products, we think of our transmission oil as a natural part of our Volvo Penta concept of Easy Boating. Our transmission oil should be of just as high a quality as our other components; in other words, something that actively contributes to making your boating experience smooth, safe and enjoyable.
If you have any questions on this subject, feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. To read more about the work we do at Volvo Penta, you can find lots of other articles here on the Volvo Penta Professional Power Blog.