The development of advanced lubricants to improve vehicle fuel efficiency can appear to be as simple as lowering the viscosity and frictional properties of a fluid. However, applied research studies have shown that it is quite difficult to quantify the fuel efficiency properties of advanced lubricants in vehicles. A review of the historical research predominantly performed in North America in this area reveals that there are many factors to consider in order to demonstrate the effectiveness of advanced lubricants. First, the methodology used to measure vehicle fuel efficiency will impact the results since there are many factors not related to the lubricant which will influence vehicle fuel efficiency. Second, developing advanced fuel-efficient lubricants under well controlled conditions overlooks the issue that lubricant properties such as viscosity and friction affect the operating conditions encountered by the lubricant in the vehicle. Finally, the physical properties of lubricants that historically control fuel economy do not have the same effect on fuel efficiency in all vehicles. The proper vehicle or system level test needs to be selected to properly assess the benefits of new advanced lubricants.
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