Motor oil, engine oil, or engine lubricant is any one of various substances used for the lubrication of internal combustion engines. They typically consist of base oils enhanced with various additives, particularly antiwear additives, detergents, dispersants, and, for multi-grade oils, viscosity index improvers. The main function of motor oil is to reduce friction and wear on moving parts and to clean the engine from sludge (one of the functions of dispersants) and varnish (detergents). It also neutralizes acids that originate from fuel and from oxidation of the lubricant (detergents), improves the sealing of piston rings, and cools the engine by carrying heat away from moving parts.
In addition to the aforementioned basic constituents, almost all lubricating oils contain corrosion and oxidation inhibitors. Motor oil may be composed of only a lubricant base stock in the case of non-detergent oil, or a lubricant base stock plus additives to improve the oil's detergency, extreme pressure performance, and ability to inhibit corrosion of engine parts.
Motor oils are blended using base oils composed of petroleum-based hydrocarbons, polyalphaolefins (PAO), or their mixtures in various proportions, sometimes with up to 20% by weight of esters for better dissolution of additives.