The need for piston engine oils

Over time, piston engine oils have become more sophisticated, responding to the evolving needs of piston engines and the rising standards created by innovations surrounding these aircraft lubricants. AeroShell piston engine oils have been at the forefront of the latter for generations.

In the 1950s, we created the ‘W’ range, which was the first to use ashless dispersants to make engines even cleaner. We released the first semi-synthetic multigrade aviation oil, AeroShell Oil W 15W-50, in the 1980s. And, working alongside Rotax, we developed the first piston engine oils for light sport aircraft engines in the 2000s – AeroShell Oil Sport Plus 2 and 4.

Find out more about our best-selling piston engine oil below.

What is piston engine oil?

What is piston engine oil? It’s a type of lubricant designed for use in aircraft piston engines to keep them performing well and in good condition.

They’re used to reduce friction between an engine’s moving parts, protect against shocks, cool internal areas, prevent rust and corrosion in highly finished internal parts, and keep the inside of the engine clean.

Piston engine oils are generally made up of mineral oils fortified with materials such as non-metallic salts that make them able to withstand the conditions in which they’re used. The AeroShell W range was the first to use non-ash forming polymeric additives to help keep engines cleaner. Piston engine oils can also contain other properties, such as anti-wear additives, to meet a wider range of requirements.
 

AeroShell Piston Engine Oils range

  • AeroShell Oil Sport Plus 4

    AeroShell Oil Sport Plus 4

    AeroShell Oil Sport Plus 4 has been specially developed in conjunction with major engine manufacturers to satisfy the demands of the small, 4-cycle piston engines used in the light aviation sector, which have previously relied on automotive lubricants.

    More about AeroShell Oil Sport Plus 4

  • AeroShell Oils 65*, 80, 100, and 120

    AeroShell Oils 65*, 80, 100, and 120

    AeroShell (straight mineral) Oils are available in four viscosity grades: SAE 30, 40, 50, and 60. They’re blended from selected high-viscosity index base stocks and contain a minimum quantity of additives. These oils are best used for breaking in most new or recently overhauled four-stroke aircraft piston engines.

    *Available in Americas only

    More about AeroShell Oils 65, 80, 100, and 120

  • AeroShell Oils W80, W100, and W120

    AeroShell Oils W80, W100, and W120

    AeroShell W Oils were the first aviation piston engine lubricants to be formulated with non-metallic dispersant additives, which help avoid the build-up of metallic ash residues on critical engine components. These oils can be used in a wide range of four-stroke aircraft piston engines, including fuel injected and turbocharged variants.

    More about AeroShell Oils W80, W100, and W120

  • AeroShell Oil W80 Plus and W100 Plus

    AeroShell Oil W80 Plus and W100 Plus

    AeroShell Oil W80 Plus and W100 Plus are Shell´s best single-grade aviation piston engine oils. They can help to prolong engine life and protect against rust, wear, and heat thanks to their range of additives, including the AeroShell Oil W range´s advanced ashless dispersant.

    More about AeroShell Oil W80 Plus and W100 Plus

  • AeroShell Oil W 15W-50

    AeroShell Oil W 15W-50

    AeroShell Oil W 15W-50 is a premium semi-synthetic multigrade ashless dispersant piston engine oil that offers exceptional stability and protection against wear thanks to its advanced additive package. It’ll also take care of your engine when operating at extreme ambient temperatures.

    More about AeroShell W 15W-50

  • AeroShell Oil Diesel Ultra

    AeroShell Oil Diesel Ultra

    This is a fully synthetic, multigrade engine oil. It uses a formulation designed to handle all operating conditions in the latest highly rated turbocharged diesel engines. And it’s suitable for piston engines fuelled by Jet A or Jet A-1. Don’t use it in spark ignition or Avgas-powered aircraft engines.

    More about AeroShell Oil Diesel Ultra

How to select the right grade of piston engine oil

You need to choose the right grade of piston engine oil to maximise your engine’s performance and its life. Choose AeroShell Oils for running-in your engine and the AeroShell W range or W Plus Oils during normal operation.

There are four grades of AeroShell Oils and AeroShell W Oils to choose from, which differ based on viscosity. Engine manufacturer Lycoming advises which oil to use based on the average ambient outside air temperature at engine start-up:

  • Below -12°C – Choose AeroShell Oil 65 with the corresponding SAE grade 30.
  • -17°C to 21°C – Choose AeroShell Oil 80, W80, or W80 Plus with the corresponding SAE grade 40.
  • 16°C to 32°C – Choose AeroShell Oil 100, W100, or W100 Plus with the corresponding SAE grade 50.
  • Above 26°C – Choose AeroShell Oil 120, or W120 with the corresponding SAE grade 60.

However, this advice doesn’t apply to AeroShell Oil W 15W-50.

For large engines, the operator’s preference and experience often decides which grades to use. Generally, this depends on the climate in which the engines are operating:

  • AeroShell Oil W100 or W100 Plus tends to be used in temperate regions.
  • AeroShell Oil W120 is often chosen in warmer climates.

While most of our advice fits with many piston engine oils, there are special considerations if you have a radial piston engine or a vintage engine. You also need to consider when to change your piston engine oil, how to store it, and how to test it. Learn about each below.

When should I change piston engine oil after break-in?

Some aircraft manufacturers suggest straight mineral oil should be used to break in new or recently overhauled engines for the first 25 to 50 hours, or up to 100 hours, of operation. Or until the oil consumption is stable. After that, switch to ashless dispersant oil – the AeroShell W range.

Yet, some rebuilders and manufacturers, such as for engines like the Lycoming O-320H and O/LO360E, say you can use either straight mineral oil or ashless dispersant oil for break-in. For all turbocharged Lycoming engines, ashless dispersant oils are recommended from the start.

Check with your engine manufacturer or rebuilder to find out what oil you should use. To find out about when to change you piston engine oil during day-to-day operations, read the AeroShell Book.

How to store piston engine oil

You can store AeroShell W Oils for a long time without compromising on quality, properties, or performance as long as you’ve stored and handled them correctly.

How to use piston engine oil in radial engines

Thanks to their unusual parts, radial engines can run into problems not seen in other piston engines, so you need to choose a dedicated piston engine oil that can handle the heavy-duty stress. The right AeroShell piston engine oil to choose depends on the kind of aircraft, application, and the climate it’s operating in.

For ordinary operations, choose AeroShell Oil W120 in moderate or temperate climates and AeroShell Oil W100 in cooler climates. When breaking your engine in, choose AeroShell Oil 120 and 100 respectively. If AeroShell Oil W 15W-50 is approved for your radial engine, then you can use this too. All these oils are a reliable choice because they don’t contain zinc additives, which can destroy your engine’s master rod and bearing.

If you’re using your radial engine for agricultural operations then be mindful that it faces specific issues to do with dirt and overspray getting into the oil. To avoid this, keep your engine well-maintained, follow good flying procedures, and change your oil frequently.

How to use piston engine oil in vintage aircraft

A lot of the oils originally approved for vintage piston engine oils are no longer available. Check with the engine rebuilder or oil supplier what new oil to use if it was approved on aviation oil other than a MIL-L-6082 or a MIL-L-22851.

Don’t assume you can simply replace your old oil with new piston engine oils.

How to test piston engine oil

Make sure you perform oil tests periodically to give you chance to spot changes, rather than only noticing problems when it’s too late. Here’s how to test your piston engine oil:

  • Regularly take samples – Take a sample midway through draining hot oil from the sump, as this’ll give you the best representation of how clean the oil is rather than if you sample from the top or bottom. Be sure to take the sample in the same way each time you test your oil, as inconsistency can lead you to mistakenly believe you have engine problems.
  • Use a series of consistent tests over time – A series of tests will reveal changes and trends over time. Don’t rely on absolute values.
  • Take samples in the same way – Make sure you take each sample the same way and at the same time interval. Always properly label them.

It’s all part of good maintenance to routinely check your piston engine oil so you can find problems before they can become major failures. Good maintenance generally involves spectrometric wear metal check and testing oil viscosity and acidity, which are services Shell companies can offer.

Bear in mind that there might be higher wear metal levels during break-in or after certain maintenance procedures.
 

AeroShell piston engine oil data sheets and specs
AeroShell Piston Engine Oil Technical Data Sheet (TDS) Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) Specifications
AeroShell Oil Diesel Ultra AeroShell Oil Diesel Ultra Technical Data Sheet (TDS) AeroShell Oil Diesel Ultra Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) Thielert/Centurion Engines:- 1.7 & 2.0 Centurion (Other models yet to be produced)
SMA:- SR305-230E
Austro Engine:- AE 300
Mercedes Benz:- MB 229.5
ACEA:- Meets the requirements of A3/B4
API:- Meets the requirements of SL/CF
SAE:- Viscosity grade 5W-30

AeroShell Oil Sport Plus 4

AeroShell Oil Sport Plus 4 Technical Data Sheet (TDS)

AeroShell Oil Sport Plus 4 Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS)

Rotax:- RON 424

AeroShell Oil W 15W-50

AeroShell Oil W 15W-50 Technical Data Sheet (TDS)

AeroShell Oil W 15W-50 Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS)

MIL-L-22851 (Obsolete)
US:- J-1899 SAE Grade Multigrade
British:- J-1899 SAE Grade Multigrade
Joint Service Designation:- OMD-162
FAA:- Airworthiness Directive 80-04-03 R2

AeroShell Oil 65

AeroShell Oil 65 Technical Data Sheet (TDS)

AeroShell Oil 65 Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS)

US:- J-1966 SAE Grade 30
British:- J-1966 SAE Grade 30

AeroShell Oil 80

AeroShell Oil 80 Technical Data Sheet (TDS)

AeroShell Oil 80 Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS)

US:- J-1966 SAE Grade 40
British:- J-1966 SAE Grade 30
Joint Service Designation:- OM-170 Obsolete

AeroShell Oil W80

AeroShell Oil W80 Technical Data Sheet (TDS)

    AeroShell Oil W80 Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS)

US:- J-1899 SAE Grade 30
British:- J-1899 SAE Grade 40
Russian:- MS-14
Joint Service Designation:- OMD-160

AeroShell Oil W80 Plus

AeroShell Oil W80 Plus Technical Data Sheet (TDS)

AeroShell Oil W80 Plus Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS)

US:- J-1899 SAE Grade 40
UK:- J-1899 SAE Grade 40
FAA:- Airworthiness Directive 80-04-03 R2

AeroShell Oil 100

AeroShell Oil 100 Technical Data Sheet (TDS)

AeroShell Oil 100 Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS)

US:- J-1966 SAE Grade 50
British:- J-1966 SAE Grade 50
Russian:- MS-20
Joint Service Designation:- OMD-270

AeroShell Oil W100

AeroShell Oil W100 Technical Data Sheet (TDS)

AeroShell Oil W100 Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS)

US:- J-1899 SAE Grade 50
British:- J-1899 SAE Grade 50
Russian:- MS-20
Joint Service Designation:- OMD-250

AeroShell Oil W100 Plus

AeroShell W100 Plus Technical Data Sheet (TDS)

AeroShell W100 Plus Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS)

US:- J-1899 SAE Grade 50
UK:- J-1899 SAE Grade 50
FAA:- Airworthiness Directive 80-04-03 R2

AeroShell Oil 120

AeroShell Oil 120 Technical Data Sheet (TDS)

AeroShell Oil 120 Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS)

US:- J-1966 SAE Grade 60

AeroShell Oil W120

AeroShell Oil W120 Technical Data Sheet (TDS)

AeroShell Oil W120 Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS)

US:- J-1899 SAE Grade 60
British:- J-1899 SAE Grade 60
Joint Service Designation:- OMD-370

World's Best-Selling Piston Engine Oil

AeroShell Piston Engine Oils - At A Glance

Find out more about the world's best selling piston engine oil.

AeroShell Multigrade W 15 W 50

Our best aviation multi-grade oil. Used over 25 years and trusted by more pilots and engineers than any oil in its class.

AeroShell Oil W100 Plus and W80 Plus

Our best single-grade oil with added wear and  corrosion protection and proven ashless additive technology.

AeroShell Oils W80, W100, W120

High quality oils for clean-engine performance. Offers protection covering a wide variety of ambient take-off
temperatures.

AeroShell Oils 65, 80, 100, 120

High quality straight mineral oils that give your engine a great start to life.

AeroShell Oil Sport PLUS 4

First aviation oil tested and approved for BRP-Rotax® engines. For light sport four-stroke engines

AeroShell Oil Diesel Ultra

The only oil designed for diesel aeroengines burning jet fuel. Promotes long engine life.

Year-Round Protection

Make a flying start this summer

Flying season is here. As you prepare to start your engines for another summer in the skies, you can fly further with our comprehensive range of piston engine oils, trusted all around the world to protect engines while in the air and on the ground.

All bases covered this winter

Winter brings with it challenging conditions for your engines. Our trusted portfolio of hardworking piston engine oils perform in low temperatures and challenging conditions, so you can be sure that your engine is fully protected, even while it’s flying less during the winter months.

AeroShell Piston Engine Oil interactive module

AeroShell Piston Engine Oil interactive module

Check out our online interactive tool to help you learn more about Piston Engine Oils and how AeroShell can help you spend more time flying.

Aeroshell Piston Engine Oil

MORE IN aviation

Buy AeroShell Lubricants

Locate the nearest AeroShell distributor.

Download the AeroShell Products Specification Guide

Learn more about the specifications that AeroShell products are approved for.

Featured content

AeroSuperBatics Wingwalking Team

For over 30 years, UK-based AeroSuperBatics Wingwalkers have performed demanding aerobatic and close formation flypast routines at speeds of up to 150mph and ‘G’ forces of up to 4G.

Safety Data Sheets

Search for aviation products by brand name or application in your preferred country and download Safety Data Sheets and Technical Data Sheets where available.

Knowledge Centre

Frequently Asked Questions and video guides.

More about aeroshell lubricants