A method has been developed to characterize lubricants, starting from the failure of thin film lubrication in sliding concentrated steel contacts. For a number of lubricants, differing in viscosity and chemical composition, the collapse of the partial EHD film is taken as a criterion of the lubrication behavior. The contribution of viscosity and chemical composition of lubricants to the load carrying capacity of the partial EHD film at a speed of 1 m/s (P1) can be separated. This is achieved by plotting the value P1 as a function of the logarithm of the bulk viscosity (η). The following linear empirical relation P1 = β log η + α is found to be valid within the viscosity range of 2–200 • 10−3 Pa.s. Lubricants with the same chemical composition have an equal value of α.

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