Tribological research has been embraced for many years in the automotive industry and PCS' range of instruments are used around the world to design and develop world leading formulations for the field.

car and motorbike

Whether you are focused on motorbikes or lorries, on electric vehicles or petrol, in every automotive application you will find moving parts; and where you find these moving parts you find tribology. From gearboxes to brake pads our instruments have been used to drive the innovation of the automotive sector through reliable, repeatable bench top testing.

In the automotive industry the benefits of tribological research are widespread. One major benefit from the continued research and improvement of lubricant and coating formulations is the protection they offer moving parts in automotive systems. This improved protection means increased reliability, which is great for customers but also for the environment as parts need replacing less frequently.

Environmental benefits of tribological research in the automotive sector are also found in the improvement in efficiency of powertrain systems, the result of better lubricants. With estimates suggesting that 200,000 million litres of fuel are used annually to overcome friction in passenger cars, even a modest 0.1% improvement in efficiency could result in hundreds of millions of litres of fuel being saved.

Using PCS equipment, testing of contacts under conditions found in internal combustion engines can be performed, shear rates can be replicated and EHD film thicknesses can be analysed. PCS have worked closely with a large number of experts in the automotive industry for the past 30 years, and our instruments have developed to meet their ever-changing needs.

Automotive industry research areas include:

  • CV joints
  • Cam follower systems
  • Bearings
  • Gearboxes
  • Brake pads
  • Clutch pads
  • Diesel fuels

Automotive Industry includes the following:



Many aspects of cars are tribologically interesting. Extensive research into a host of components such as gearboxes, engines, bearings and brakes is ongoing around the world.

Heavy Duty Vehicles

Heavy Duty Vehicles

Like with cars, tribology research into heavy duty vehicles is ongoing and for this area higher loads are often focused on for more representative test conditions.



Motorcycles typically run at higher RPM than cars and heavy duty vehicles. This places different requirements on the oils and lubricants used in them, which is an area of focused research.



Tribology is even more important in motor sport than in consumer cars. The tolerances are finer and the optimisation of fuels and lubricants greater, so how surfaces interact is critical in developing the fastest racer possible.

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Automotive Industry Articles & Papers


Easy-Greasy: The New MPR GI

Testing grease in conditions that mimic real-world mechanical stresses has always been a significant challenge for researchers. Starvation during these …

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Coefficient of Friction Behavior of Gear Oils and Significance for the Meshing Process of Spur Gears

The mechanical properties of oils are determined using test methods. There are standardized test methods for determining viscosity and density. …

The mechanical properties of oils are determined using test methods. There are standardized test methods for determining viscosity and density. The characterization of transmission oil based on its dynamic viscosity alone is not sufficient for the physical explanation of different levels of noise emissions in vehicle transmissions. For this reason, the test procedure for determining the coefficient of friction is used in the following to enable a further differentiation between the oils according to mechanical properties.
In gear transmissions with involute gear teeth, rolling friction occurs in the gear pair meshing along the line of action due to the variation in the equivalent curvature radii throughout the meshing cycle. This is rolling friction on which a sliding friction component, so-called slip, is superimposed. Pure rolling friction only occurs in the pitch point. From the pitch point to the start and end of the meshing, there is a superimposed sliding friction component that increases with increasing distance from the pitch point. Slip values occur in the range of 5–50% depending on tooth geometry.
These friction conditions during tooth flank lubrication can be assessed using the Stribeck curve. The Stribeck curve represents the coefficient of friction as a function of the speed. A mini traction machine from PCS Instruments with a ball/plate measurement setup was used to determine the coefficient of friction behavior of gear oils. This allows the coefficient of friction of an oil to be assessed at low speeds in the range from boundary and mixed friction to elastohydrodynamic fluid friction at high speeds.
The investigations show that the coefficient of friction behavior of a gear oil depends on the oil viscosity and above all on the chemical composition. The lower the coefficient of friction, the less energy is required to shear the lubricating film and the lower the power transmission through the fluid. The coefficient of friction is a property that is dominated by the type of base oil and the type of VI improver in the area of mixed and fluid friction, especially with additional sliding in contact.
It will be shown in the paper that the use of a gear oil that has been optimized with regard to the coefficient of friction curve can reduce the entry impacts of meshing gear pairs under vibration excitation and the gear transmission thus generates lower noise emissions.

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Eni Roadmap Towards Co2 Reduction: Development and Evaluation of New Proprietary Organic Friction Reducer Additives

Climate change demands urgent actions towards CO2 emission reduction. Through their effect on friction losses, new engine lubricants play a …

Climate change demands urgent actions towards CO2 emission reduction. Through their effect on friction losses, new engine lubricants play a key role in reducing fuel consumption and, consequently, CO2 emissions. Besides oil viscosity optimization, friction contributions are primarily dependent on friction reducer (FR) chemistry, although secondary impacts exist for detergent, dispersant, and antiwear additives. Eni has been working for several years in the development of innovative friction reducer additives as well as in the definition of testing methods for evaluating the performances of a large number of molecules and selecting the most promising ones for engine or vehicle tests. According to this approach, a tribological method has been firstly set up by using the Mini Traction Machine (MTM); this equipment allows to measure friction coefficient under various operating conditions and can also reproduce the Stribeck curve, which embraces all the lubrication regimes, thus qualitatively predicting friction behaviour of a lubricant. The performances of a large quantity of candidate additives were evaluated, both as fresh and after appropriate aging. Among these, a very promising metal –free additive, derived from renewable sources, was selected and then put in low viscosity engine oils for the engine and vehicle tests evaluation; standard engine tests, like Sequence VIE and JASO M366 Fuel Economy, as well as chassis-dyno tests were carried out, obtaining results that meet API SP/ILSAC GF-6 and JASO GLV-1 limits. The same additive was also evaluated as fuel-borne FR in chassis-dyno tests based on an in-house procedure composed by a 48h running at low oil and coolant temperature, aiming at transferring the friction reducer additive into the oil, followed by different WLTCs for CO2 measurement and fuel consumption calculation. The additive in 95 RON gasoline was compared with the same fuel without additives. The promising behavior of friction reducer additives at the different scales is the subject of this paper aimed to give a valid support in the roadmap towards CO2 reduction.

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