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PAO in Racing Oils: What is it and why is it used?

When you read the label of racing products you often see that it consists of polyalphaolefins (PAO). But why are PAO oils so popular in the racing segment?
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Based on the existing statistics, 78% of the lubricant requirements in the world are met with the use of mineral-based fluids. But the use of mineral oil lubricants is decreasing and is expected to be replaced sooner or later by synthetic-based lubricants.

Despite higher costs, there are multiple reasons to choose synthetic over mineral lubricants:

  • Extending equipment life
  • New OEM requirements which promote better efficiency of the vehicle
  • Fill for life lubricants
  • Specific geographical conditions and external factors like temperature, pressure, speed, etc.

With everyday advancements happening around the world, there are a few key paremeters in which synthetic lubricants are superior to mineral-based lubricants: requirements of reduced wear and frictions, lower volatility, and better corrosion protection. To be clear, not all synthetic lubricants are created equal; multiple formulations exist which makes deciding what the right choice is more complicated.

Roughly 75% of the synthetic lubricants are polyalphaolefins (PAOs), organic esters, and polyglycols. The remaining synthetic lubricants are produced from other base stocks, including phosphate esters, polybutenes, silicones, perfluoroalkyl, and polyphenyl ethers.

PAO fluids are the common synthetic base stock used in automotive lubricants. They were developed in the first half of the 1930s and have been used commercially since the 1970s for engine oils. They are classified as a Group IV base oil and are made by a two-step process using linear alpha-olefins like 1-decene.

Low-viscosity PAO fluids are used in automotive applications, such as engine oil and gear lubricants. These are basically the Apollo Rs, Motrax Rs, Gevitro Rs products in the Rymax family. High-viscosity PAO fluids have also become popular in industrial fluids and greases. Since PAO fluids are synthetic hydrocarbons, they are compatible with and often combined with mineral-based oils. They are also preferred in the latest generation vehicles as they have the following characteristics:

  • Better engine performance
  • Suitable for use in cold environments
  • Excellent anti-oxidation stability and low volatility which means oil maintains its properties longer which in turn extends oil drain interval
  • Fill-for-life lubricants
  • Reduction of equipment deposits
  • Excellent anti-wear performance
  • Compatible with mineral oil


From the points mentioned above, you can understand the superior performance that PAO offers along with other synthetics like organic esters and others. Rymax recommends Apollo R and other racing line products for this very purpose as better performance is expected. 

Rymax Brand Ambassador Hunter Taylor therefore uses the Apollo R and Gevitro R products in both the hot California weather and in the freezing temperatures during ice drifting in Norway. The advantage of having undisturbed performance in both hot and cold temperatures shows how much PAO can work to one’s advantage compared to mineral-based lubricants. From the graph, you can notice that the traction coefficient of racing oil is less than a mineral-based lubricant which means better anti-wear performance. 

Apollo R products can be used in gasoline, diesel, and LPG fuelled engines in passenger cars.

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