The automotive industry is being forced towards greater efficiency, increased engine power from smaller engines and lower environmental impact by both governmental legislation and public opinion. Oil drain intervals are increasing whilst emissions legislation limit the use of current wear protection and antioxidant additives containing elements such as phosphorus and sulphur. To address these demands and challenges an increased understanding of the link between lubricant degradation, its transport and residence time, and the effect on piston assembly tribology is required. The aim of the work reported in this paper was to further develop the understanding of the effect degraded lubricants have on piston assembly tribology. The small oil volumes and environmental conditions in the piston assembly make the affective lubrication and protection of components in this region one of the most challenging areas of tribology. This was carried out through an extensive experimental programme using a research engine, tribometer testing and chemical and rheological analysis of lubricant samples.
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