Lubrication Challenges for Hybrid Vehicles

Chevron’s answer: Havoline® PRO-DS Full Synthetic

Passenger Car Passenger Car

Hybrid vehicles present unique challenges for engine oils due to their distinct operational characteristics. Unlike conventional vehicles, hybrids rely on a combination of an internal combustion engine (ICE) and an electric motor, which leads to different demands on the lubricants. Some of the main challenges for hybrid vehicle lubricants are: 


Buildup of water vapor in the engine: the repeated start-stop cycle of hybrids can lead to persistent low engine temperature that causes condensation inside the engine. Over time, this condensation can accumulate and lead to water buildup, causing corrosion in cylinder walls and piston rings.



Low oil temperature: the cooler operating condition of hybrid engines can cause the oil to thicken due to increased viscosity, compromising its lubricating properties. The denser oil will then struggle to circulate effectively, potentially failing to lubricate the engine components and reducing overall engine efficiency.


Fuel dilution: hybrid vehicles, like all cars with internal combustion engines, can experience fuel dilution. This issue occurs when unburned fuel passes the piston rings and mixes with the engine oil, which can happen more frequently in hybrids due to their lower average operating temperatures from intermittent engine use. Fuel dilution can lead to reduced oil viscosity, increased wear, and potential engine damage if not addressed.


Sludge formation due to oxidation: water contamination in hybrid engine oil can accelerate the oxidation process, leading to the degradation of the oil. This degradation can result in accumulation of sludge, a gelatinous material that can lead to poor fuel efficiency, and low oil pressure.


Chevron Havoline® Hybrid Engine Oil


As mentioned, hybrid vehicles present unique challenges that require specialized solutions, particularly when it comes to engine maintenance. Recognizing this, Chevron has engine oils, such as the Chevron Havoline® PRO-DS Full Synthetic Motor Oil 0W-20, that is engineered for complex engines in hybrids. It is formulated with premium base oil for better flow at low temperatures and to reduce friction during frequent start-stop cycles. It’s unique blend of corrosion inhibitors and dispersants tackles issues  related to condensation-induced corrosion and offers comprehensive defense against the accumulation of sludge, varnish, and deposits, ensuring that engines run cleaner and stronger for longer.



Recommended Oil Change Frequency for Hybrid Vehicles


Hybrid vehicle owners should follow the oil change intervals and specifications recommended by the manufacturer to ensure optimal performance and longevity of the engine. Not all hybrids require specialized oil, and some may use the same range of lubricants as non-hybrid vehicles. However, using the wrong oil grade or type can compromise the efficiency and durability of the hybrid system, and may void the warranty or cause damage to the engine. 


Anita Leung
Anita Leung has held various technical positions at Chevron specializing in engine oil development, including research on next generation additives and product development of Chevron's latest line of GF-6 passenger car motor oil. She is currently the North America Product Technical Specialist responsible for passenger car and motorcycle engine oil, as well as the Techron branded aftermarket fuel additive. Anita also holds a U.S. patent on a gasoline additive manufacturing process. She has a B.S. in Chemistry from the University of California, Berkeley, and a M.S. in Environmental Science from the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology.

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