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Gear oil

Gear oil is a motor oil made specifically for transmissions, transfer cases, and differentials in automobiles, trucks, and other machinery. It is of a higher viscosity to better protect the gears and usually is associated with a strong sulfur smell. The high viscosity ensures transfer of lubricant throughout the gear train. This is necessary since the devices needing this heavy oil do not have pumps for transferring the oil with only a portion of the lowermost gears bathed in an oil sump. This heavy oil can create viscous drag leading to inefficiencies in vehicle operation. Some modern automatic transaxles (integrated transmission and differential) do not use a heavy oil at all but lubricate with the lower viscosity hydraulic fluid, which is available at pressure within the automatic transmission.

Most lubricants for manual gearboxes and differentials are hypoid gear oils. These contain extreme pressure (EP) additives and antiwear additives to cope with the sliding action of hypoid bevel gears.

Gear oils are classified by the American Petroleum Institute using GL ratings. For example, most modern gearboxes require a GL4 oil, and separate differentials (where fitted) require a GL5 oil. It is important that purchasers check the oil against the vehicle manufacturer's specification to ensure it does not contain any aggressive chemicals that may attack gear components, such as the phosphor bronze used in many Japanese boxes.

API viscosity ratings for gear oils are not directly comparable with those for motor oil, and they are thinner than the figures suggest. For example, many modern gearboxes use a 75W90 gear oil, which is actually of equivalent viscosity to a 10W40 motor oil. Multigrade gear oils are becoming more common; while gear oil does not reach the temperatures of motor oil, it does warm up appreciably as the car is driven, due mostly to shear friction (with a small amount of heat conduction through the bellhousing from the engine block).

Fully synthetic gear oils are also used in many vehicles, and have a greater resistance to shear breakdown than mineral oils. They can improve the shifting performance of "difficult" gearboxes, where the excessive slipperiness of some mineral oils can impede synchromesh action.

This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Gear_oil". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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