Here's What Happens When Your Oil Freezes

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Spoiler alert: It's not good for the engine.

We all sort of know what goes on in our engine. There's some air, some fuel, some spark, and a bunch of pistons moving quickly. They spin a shaft, which spins a shaft, which spins the wheels. We also know that when things are going right, there's oil flowing everywhere. But what about when we park our cars overnight in subzero temperatures? Garage 54 found out.

The guys don't need a special chamber to do this, as it's a frigid -30 degrees Celcius (-22 degrees Fahrenheit) outdoors in Siberia. We probably don't get that cold here in the US, but a -20 degrees is definitely in the conversation for places like Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan's Upper Peninsula. And we just found out Teslas in Texas get cold too.

So, Garage 54 has a clear oil pan built and clear rocker covers built for this Lada so we can see what's going on while the engine is running. First, they give the car an oil and filter change, so as to control the experiment. They use solid polycarbonate for the transparent material, after making proper molds of both pieces, which is entertaining to watch itself. After hefty doses of gasket maker, the pieces are reassembled, and the car is put outside to freeze for the night.

In the morning, as expected, the oil is near frozen "the consistency of honey." The oil just sits on the bottom of the pan. It takes a bit for the vehicle to start, obviously, but with some ether spray, they get it going, for a moment. You can see the oil starting to move as they floor the throttle when turning over.

Garage 54
Garage 54
Garage 54
Garage 54
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The guys from Garage 54 are somewhat surprised that the car takes so long to start. They note that there's no oil to the top of the engine, only the chain is moving the fluid. After a lot of revs and a lot of smoke, the Lada seems to get going, and finally, we see a few splashes of oil. There's still none on the camshaft, even with an aftermarket oil pump. The engine eventually chomped off the teeth of the distributor.

So, what have we learned? Move out of Siberia, maybe? And if you can't, get an engine block heater or park in a climate-controlled garage. Oh, and don't try this at home.

Garage 54
Garage 54
Garage 54
Garage 54
Source Credits: Garage 54

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