If you own a vehicle with a supercharger, one of the things that need attention after a while is an oil change. The challenge sometimes is that the dealer-recommended supercharger oils may not always be available. Are there any supercharger oil substitutes available on the market that you can use in such scenarios?
That’s the purpose of this article. We are going to explore this subject a bit more in-depth and see what, if any, substitutes exist on the market.
The Inner Workings of a Supercharger
To get a good idea of the need for the right type of oil in a supercharger, you need to understand its inner workings. A supercharger has two gears that spin at extremely high speeds. These speeds are faster than what you find in ordinary car engines. In order to maintain proper function and avoid the supercharger blowing, these gears need to be lubricated properly and the lubricant has to be the right viscosity.
Most engine oils are too thick and won’t be able to do the job since they are made for engine parts with slower rates of rotation. In fact, the thickness of supercharger oil is comparable to that of cooking grease.
That’s how thin it is. As you would be well aware, most engine oils are a lot thicker than that. Is this the case for all motor oils though or are there suitable replacements? More on that later. If you are buying a supercharger as an add-on or replacement, they will come pre-loaded with oil.
A supercharger only needs between 4oz and 6oz of oil depending on the type. Earlier generations mostly worked with 6oz and the newer generations needless at around 4oz.
The oil level sits about a tenth of the way from the bottom of the gears. This will provide ideal levels of lubrication. Filling it higher than that or overfilling will actually lead to catastrophic failure. It’s, therefore, imperative that the recommended levels are kept.
What is Supercharger Oil?
Supercharger oil is synthetic oil but with a lower viscosity. The thinness, odor, and similarity to cooking grease have actually led many to believe it is organic.
This is not the fact. It is a synthetic oil mixed with other compounds that help it properly lubricate the supercharger under extreme conditions.
GM has its own supercharger oil that they recommend being used with their superchargers. This is sold in different outlets all over the US as well as online. Unfortunately, though, stocks at physical locations often run out because not that many cars, by comparison, have superchargers.
Due to the emphasis by GM to run their own brand on superchargers, there is a huge debate on whether other brands will work. This leads us to the next point:
Are there Alternatives to Supercharger Oil?
Since it is synthetic oil and there are many other synthetics available on the market. Is it possible to replace supercharger oil with synthetic? That’s a question often asked on forums regarding this issue but most people ask without a proper understanding of what synthetic oil actually is.
To better appreciate the nature of synthetics, you need to understand what they are. Most of the ones on the market consist of a synthetic base and a mix of other organic and inorganic substances.
The rations of these substances vary from one type to the other even under the same brand. The result is that the different versions are used for different applications with different end results. The good news is that there are alternatives on the market that can be used if you can’t find supercharger oil anywhere else.
Supercharger Oil Substitutes
The following is a list of alternatives to supercharger oil. You can use these but you do need to be careful to cross-check with an experienced mechanic who has a history with superchargers.
- 0w20 or 30 synthetic
- Mobil 1 full synthetic
- Intense Racing Supercharger Oil
These products are readily available when the need arises. It is recommended that they be used as stop-gap measures in the case where you can’t find the recommended product. Once you do find the actual supercharger oil, it’s best to replace it.
Home Made Supercharger
Oil Lastly, I want to look at a homemade alternative to supercharger oil which you can make by mixing a few ingredients. This is a DIY option that needs to be taken with caution. It has been popularised by a few bloggers and YouTubers. To make your own DIY supercharger oil, mix the following ingredients:
- 5W20 Royal Purple Synthetic Oil
- Lucas Pure Synthetic
- Ester AC Oil
The ingredients are mixed in the following ratios:
- 1 Part 5W20 Royal Purple Synthetic Oil
- 3 Parts Lucas Pure Synthetic Oil
- 7 Parts Ester Air-conditioning Oil
As already stated, take this with a grain of salt and at your own risk. Do some research online to find out the experiences of those who have used it before trying it out.
Robert Anderson is a world class motorhead who rebuilt his first carb at age 10, his first engine at age 15, and completed his first full hotrod build when he was just 18! Previously, he has ran a part warehouse, delivered pizzas, and managed the service department for a $20 million/year revenue dealership. Robert knows cars like few others and he is passionate about sharing his knowledge.