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Oils Tested

Car Quest


Liqui Moly




Quaker State


Royal Purple



To have your oil or oil mix tested, please email [email protected]!








What is SQUID INK?

Shell Rotella Gas Truck 5W30 scar size comparison

SQUID INK is a line of specially developed engine oil additives using cutting edge materials and research. It is revolutionary in performance and purpose.

The SQUID INK line contains over 15 different blends, so nearly every oil on the market will have a matching additive blend designed and tested to work with it. Please consult your oil's information page for recommendations on which SQUID INK blend to choose!

While SQUID INK works right away, it also coats the components in your engine with nano-scale lubricators that prevent dry-starts, the #1 cause of wear in many engines. The longer it's used, the stronger the protection becomes as SQUID INK coats the moving parts of your engine. SQUID INK reduces wear as much as 55% in lab testing!

Where can I buy SQUID INK?!


Scar comparison after stress testing without and with SQUID INK

Testing Method

The machine used in lubricity testing is a weighted multiple-fulcrum cylinder-against-wheel system with a constant RPM control. Measurements were taken at 30, 60, and 120 minute intervals of things such as cylinder weight, oil temperature, scar size, and power required to move the wheel.

20 milliliters (mL) of total oil is used per test. When no additives (N/A) were used, 20 mL of the base oil was used. When additives were used, 18 mL of the base oil and 2 mL of the additive were used. This would translate to 0.5 quarts (qt) additive per 4.5 qt base.

Power was measured as both total full-weight load power and base power of the machine (measured at same time). Therefore the "Watt required" data is not a “total power used”, but a differential statistic. This is a measurement that better takes into consideration the base power required to move the motor and other components of the machine, as the Wattage would fluctuate depending on a number of environmental variables.

Wear is caused to a cylinder as a rotating wheel moves against it at the end of the load-bearing arm. This system applies more pressure (load) against these items than most engines will observe -- an equivalent of 50 Kg, or 110 Lb. With a scar length of 1 mm, this translates to 355,583 psi. With a scar length of 8 mm, this translates to a significantly lower 2,844 psi. The point at which the scar stops significantly increasing in size is considered the maximum load of the oil. The maximum load is calculated based on when the scar stops measurably increasing in size, which is indicative of the oil's ability to displace load from the components to itself.

When wear scars sub-2 mm were observed, they proved difficult (if not nearly impossible) to align exactly perpendicular against the wheel after removing the cylinder for weight measurement. Furthermore, scars under 2 mm would remove less than 0.001 gram (g) of material from the cylinder -- this exceeds the granularity of our measurement equipment (0.001 g increments). For those two reasons, it was decided if a scar was sub-2 mm during the 30 or 60 minute checks, the cylinder weight was not recorded and only scar size measured. Scar sizes under 2 mm were given a 0.001 g weight reduction total. All scars over 2 mm were weighed directly.

Temperatures were equivalent to extended high load operating oil temperatures in many vehicles, although our temperatures were achieved through high loads and not through combustion heat. The recorded temperatures were between 120-180’ C, 250-360’ F. (Why Fahrenheit? Fahrenheit allows easier comparison of finer differences without using more decimal places.)

Expect a 10% error margin with most measurements. There are invariably variations between each test such as ambient temperature, residual machine temperature, atmospheric humidity, and the tiny variations in how metal is worn. While the same metal cylinder is used for each variation using the same oil base, the metal is not perfectly uniform throughout. The imperfections may be larger or smaller on any side of the same cylinder, and especially between each different cylinder. Therefore, comparison between different oils using different cylinders should be considered like dynamometer testing ("dyno" testing) with before and after testing of the same vehicle (or in this case: oil) being weighed with more value on your mind's balance scale. The tiny, yet pervasive web of interconnected variables that lead to each result should be taken into consideration.

No funding outside of SSSQUID, or support in any way from any other company was provided. While we are selling a product, it can be added to nearly any motor oil and we don’t care which oil you use it with.

Rating System

Please expect this to change as the rating system is refined. The current iteration is SLR-3, or Squid Lubricity Rating - version 3. This rating system takes into consideration 4 important performance categories over the course of 120 minutes: Scar Size, Operating Temperature, Required Power, and by extension of those: Maximum Load.

Oil basics

Oil is the life-blood of any vehicle. It's one of the most important regular maintenance items that you will purchase. Everyone has their own opinion about which oil is best and why. Through standardized tribological testing, our goal is to show data on how different oils prevent or expedite wear of parts differently. Wear characteristic testing is not 100% definitive in a complex system, it is only one of many important considerations when choosing an oil.

While there are many things to consider when choosing an oil, the three most important areas are: compatibility with your oiling system, compatibility with your engine's moving components, and wear characteristics. Brief overviews of these are below.

Compatibility with Your Oiling System

There is a reason that your oil cap says "5W30", "10W40", or something along those lines. Your engine's oil pump needs to move oil through all journals and out of the ports at specific rates and pressures. Increasing or decreasing the weight, or viscosity, of oil increases or decreases how quickly oil moves. A slower moving - higher weight - oil is harder to pump and often results in higher oil system pressure. A quicker moving oil does not require as much effort to move and often results in lower oil pressure.

There is not much of an error margin with oil pressure before increased wear or premature damage. Too low pressures means that oil will not be distributed correctly/evenly throughout your engine, but too much pressure means not only increased effort (more energy needed from the engine to power the pump) but also the possibility of oil distribution issues. In extreme cases, too heavy an oil can lead to gasket oil leaks from high pressures. Conversely, too light an oil can lead to oil seepage through gaskets.

It is best to equip your vehicle with an oil pressure and oil temperature sensor, and to verify the oil you are using is within manufacturer specification for pressure and temperature. If you cannot do this, it's a good idea to use the oil weight combination suggested by the manufacturer of your engine. Often small changes will not cause an issue, such as using 10W30 in an engine that specifies 5W30. However, larger changes, such as 20W60 in an engine that specifies 0W16 will almost certainly result in improper oil system pressure and/or poor engine lubrication. Use what the manufacturer recommends unless you have the proper monitoring tools!

As a rule of thumb, heavier oils offer better wear protection and heat dispersion. This is not a law, and some thinner oils can easily outperform their heavier rivals. An example of this is Pennzoil Hybrid 0W16 outperforming many oils in the 20, 30, 40, and even 50 weight range.

Compatibility with Your Engine's Components

In some circumstances engine components require specific weights or blends to meet certain operational requirements such as valve clearance, oil distribution design, and gasket design.

Using oils that are too heavy, or even too slick, can result in retainer/valve unseating. This mostly happens in high manifold pressure situations (such as turbocharged vehicles running high boost), but can happen in naturally aspirated (N/A) vehicles as well. A similar issue is that oil ideally creates a friction layer between two (or more) components. Using too thick or too thin an oil will change the active operating clearance between components like rockers, valves, and even piston rings.

Some engine's have small areas that oil needs to reach well and easily; the heavier the oil, the more difficult it will be for it to move into smaller areas. A visualization of this would be mixing pancake batter. As the spatula moves through the batter, watch how quickly or slowly the batter fills in the area behind it (this is known as a slipstream). The thicker the batter, the slower the batter closes behind the moving spatula.

In extreme cases, too heavy an oil can lead to gasket oil leaks from high pressures. Conversely, too light an oil can lead to oil seepage through gaskets.

Many older vehicles had higher levels of zinc (Zn) and phosphorus (P), mostly in the form of ZnDDP (Zinc Dialkyl Dithiophosphate; ZDP; ZDDP) added to engine oils to help take care of oxidation and corrosion (treating metals with Zn to prevent oxidation is known as galvanization). In the 1940's and 50's it was believed to help reduce wear to a degree, but increasing the level beyond a certain threshold would in-fact increase wear. Zn and P, specifically ZnDDP has been removed from most modern oils for numerous reasons. The first is that it is not environmentally friendly, and burning ZnDDP is harmful to animal life. The next reason is that Zn actually performs rather poorly as a proper lubricant for modern vehicles in comparison to newer additives. Furthermore, moderns engines do not have issues with oxidation and corrosion that affected some older metals and alloys. Every test we did with added ZnDDP (Zinc Dialkyl Dithiophosphate) or fine, sub-5 micron pure Zn, resulted in worse wear characteristics than without. Though it's a hotly debated topic, many believe that using modern (relatively) high detergent oils can also increase wear in some older engines. Some consider this a myth, but unfortunately there is very little readily available data on the subject. One issue which is an irrefutable fact is that higher levels of ZnDDP can and will wear your catalytic converter quickly. Avoid high ZnDDP oils (such as Valvoline VR1) or ZnDDP additives if your vehicle has a catalytic converter. All SQUID INK blends are ZnDDP-free (they contain no Zn, P, or ZnDDP).

Wear Characteristics

As you can see, there are many considerations when choosing the correct oil for your vehicle. Possibly the most important of all aspects is the oil's wear characteristic. While not definitive, it's very important. You can purchase the exact oil recommended by a manufacturer, but if it wears your components quickly, you're going to be in for an expensive repair bill sooner rather than later with decreasing performance on the journey there.

Wear characteristics deal with how the oil lubricates two or more components moving against each other. Oils with poor lubricating ability (lubricity) will wear your components quicker. Picking an oil with the best wear characteristics within the other needs of your engine will lead to an engine that lives long and prospers. This wiki is dedicated to the testing of various oils, and how their wear characteristics can be improved with various additives.

Compared to Other Laboratory Oil Testing

A popular choice for many people is to have the contaminates of used oil compared against new oil using spectrography. This is the method used by companies like Blackstone. It's a good thing to keep in mind that oil testing using this method only shows contaminates which are not caught by an engine's ~20 micron oil filer. This type of testing is hardly definitive and should only ever be used as a general guesstimate as to how a lubricant is performing.

Please also keep in mind that your components wear at an exponentially decreasing rate. As they wear, they surface area over which two components make contact increases, which decreases the load-bearing required from the lubricant. Therefore less metal will naturally show up in the spectroscopy tests over time -- this doesn't necessarily mean one oil is better than another. All-in-all, these types of tests in a filtered system are not very valuable unless you're also replacing all wearing components between each oil that you want to have tested.

Our testing method is far superior to spectrography tests because it shows results of actual real-world wear on components, maximum film strength, and lubricity in terms of power requirements. Combined, this leads to far more conclusive and concrete results than what other companies are able to offer.

Have your favorite oil tested


Testing one oil through all mixture combinations takes upwards of 2 weeks. Naturally, there's only so much testing we can do. If you have a specific oil you’d like tested, we accept sealed bottles of oil, and/or sealed bottles of a specific additive.

We require no less than 500 mL of oil for full testing, but can do targeting testing with as little as 250 mL.

Please email [email protected] for more information!