How do you know you’re using the right oil in your Billy Goat? With different lubricants needed for engines, gearboxes, chains and other parts of your equipment, it can get confusing. Here’s what you need to know about oil classifications and which products will work best to keep everything lubricated.
Honda, Subaru, Vanguard and Briggs & Stratton recommend using gasoline motor oil in their engines. Oils tested by the American Petroleum Institute (API) have a service symbol, nicknamed the “donut,” on the back label. This lists all the information you need to find the right oil for your engine.
The top of the donut lists the service category. Oil for gasoline engines have categories starting with “S.” New standards surpass the requirements of old standards, so it’s safe to use a modern SN oil in an engine that requires an earlier API service category like SJ. The center lists the SAE oil weight. If there is one number, that’s the viscosity of the oil over a wide range of temperatures. “W” stands for “winter.” The number in front of the “W” is the viscosity at 32ºF, while the number after the “W” is the viscosity at 212ºF. For most engines, 10W30 is recommended for most temperature ratings, while 30 weight oil can be used in warm weather.
International oils are typically ILSAC-certified. Their classifications have more focus on fuel economy, so API adds “Energy Conserving” to the bottom of the donut if the oil also meets the equivalent ILSAC certification. These oils reduce friction, but on a level that’s only noticeable in a fleet of vehicles: choosing an Energy Conserving oil won’t noticeably reduce the amount of fuel your equipment uses.
API grades most gear oils using “GL” service categories. The higher the classification, the more additives the oil has to withstand high pressure and temperatures. However, these additives can damage brass, copper and other materials used in differentials and transmissions. While there are special formulations that are safe for these metals, the easiest way to ensure the safety of your equipment is to use the exact category specified in the manual. GL-3 is the most common gear oil used in Billy Goat equipment.
Oil weight is rated the same as it is with engine oil. Some transmissions and differentials require non-detergent oil. Detergent additives help keep engines clean, but they can foam up in or leave a sticky film on gears, reducing lubrication. These oils will have “Non-Detergent” clearly printed on the label.
Light oil is recommended for lubricating wheels, chains, and cables. This category includes several types of lubricants:
General purpose lubricating oil
Non-wax chain lubricant
Silicone spray lubricant
Electric motor oil
Water displacers and penetrating fluids including WD-40 and Liquid Wrench are not lubricants. They can be used to get parts moving again, but they need to be followed up with a light oil to keep the part moving freely.
Grease is oil emulsified with soap to create a lubricant that stays put wherever it’s applied. Grease standards are handled by yet another industry group, the National Lubricating Grease Institute, or “NLGI.” They have a grading system based on how thick the grease is: Grade 2, recommended by Billy Goat for lubricating bearings and pivot points, is the most common grade and has a consistency similar to peanut butter. Multipurpose lithium-based grease is recommended, but better performing greases like marine and automotive formulas can be used as long as they’re still Grade 2.
Pressure Washer Pump Oil
There isn’t a specific standard for pressure washer oil. Both AR and CAT make oils specifically for their pumps, providing long-lasting protection when exposed to moisture and high temperatures. In a pinch, SAE 20 non-detergent oil or ISO 68 oil can be used, but it will need to be changed more frequently. Your pump owner’s manual will list the recommended service intervals for both standard and pump-specific oil.
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