The Thick About Oil

March 2007 Feature Viewed 1457 time(s)
(ED-Following is an article we ran across in the -October 2006 issue-of Arctic Cat Pride Magazine, a magazine for Cat enthusiasts. The title of the article is "Answers About Arctic Cat Oil" and we thought there was some good and interesting information in it for all snowmobile owners. It is reprinted with permission from Arctic Cat.)

Despite what you may have read elsewhere, all oils are not created equally. There is only one brand of oil that's designed for and tested for the very engine in your snowmobile: Arctic Cat Oil. We sat down with Arctic Cat's Kim Chervestad, 2-Stroke Engine Test and Design Group Leader and Brad Maus, 4-Stroke Engine Test and Design Group Leader, to talk about why that's important to the performance and protection of your snowmobile and what the consequences are from running other brands.

Pride: Why is it important to use oil specifically developed and tested in Arctic Cat snowmobile engines?
Chervestad: Because each brand of engine is different, with specific operating rpm range, port timing and exhaust valve design. We specify oil that's optimum for Arctic Cat engines, with specific performance objectives unique to them. The result is the best performing oil for our engines.
Pride: What are the objectives and requirements for Arctic Cat oil?
Chervestad: For starters, we require that our oils protect engines against wear, provide excellent lubrication, minimize deposit formations, protect against rust and corrosion, provide good low-temperature performance and easily mix with fuel. To improve the riding experience, our premium products are also smokeless and have a neutral or pleasant exhaust odor.
That's a lot of specific requirements. To meet them, Arctic Cat Engineering and our lubricant supplier blended and tested more than 100 formulations before finalizing what is now our APV Synthetic Oil.
Pride: How is the oil tested?
Chervestad: Preliminary formulations of base stocks, additive components and solvents are first developed and tested in a laboratory. Once a formulation has met the desired physical properties, it's tested in our engines on a dyno, where it's subjected to severe conditions that replicate real-world use. Once a candidate formulation passes two rounds of dyno testing, which includes lengthy life-cycle tests, it's evaluated in a variety of snowmobiles through our Arctic Cat field testing department, where it will undergo thousands of miles of operation at various elevations, ambient temperatures and conditions. Throughout this entire process, engines are disassembled and inspected for wear, cleanliness and all other performance properties. Only when it's passed all of these stages of testing is an oil formulation approved.
Pride: What are the different Arctic Cat 2-stroke oils?
Chervestad: We offer three types of oil for our two-stroke engines: Arctic Cat Synthetic APV oil for machines with APV electronic power valves, Arctic Cat Semi-Synthetic Oil for superior performance in sleds without APV valves and Arctic Cat 50:1 mineral oil, also for non-APV engines.
If you have an engine with APV valves, you should use the Synthetic APV oil to minimize deposits on the power valves and maintain the performance of the engine. It also has a low smoke and fresh scent formulation. Semi-Synthetic is the best performing oil for all engines without APV valves, plus it too has the low odor/fresh scent formulation. Our 50:1 is a value-priced mineral oil for non-APV engines.
Pride: Why should sledders be concerned with deposit formations on APV valves?
Chervestad: Carbon and varnish deposits could cause an APV valve, or valves, to stick, usually in the up position. Once that happens, fuel mileage and engine performance decrease significantly, with decreased throttle response being one of the tell-tale signs. Any APV-equipped engine will experience some level of deposits on the valves. Period. APV oil minimizes it.
Pride: How do Arctic Cat oils differ from other brands?
Chervestad: Well, like I mentioned before, no other brand oil is formulated for the specific design of Arctic Cat snowmobile engines, nor are they tested in our engines. We know with certainty that Arctic Cat APV oil is the best performing oil for Arctic Cat APV engines. We have also tested other brands in our engines and the results have shown more deposit formations on valves and unsatisfactory performance in other areas.
Pride: What about the claims some brands make about improving engine horsepower?
Chervestad: Absolutely not true. Believe me, if we could offer oil that delivered more horsepower without sacrificing protection, we would. Another untrue sales pitch we see is that brand X oil "will clean an engine's exhaust valves." Again, not true.
Pride: Arctic Cat also offers oil for its 4-stroke machines. What's unique about those?
Maus: We offer Synthetic 0W-30 oil for our non-turbo 4-stroke T660 models and the Synthetic Turbo 0W40 for T660 Turbos and the new Z1 1100 engine. These high performance engines run at higher operating temperatures, so they require a special oil formulation. Both 4-stroke oils are designed and tested specifically for our engines, just like our 2-stroke oils. 

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