Friction and wear loss of various machining parts and pairs depend majorly on the quality of lubricants. Several types of additives are commercially used to enhance the tribological performance of a lubricant. In the present work, some novel lubricating liquids were prepared by mixing diffident additives, viz bromide, fluoride, iodide and acetate, in a commercial available SAE20W40 lubricant. Pin-on-disc investigations were performed to evaluate the effect of the prepared lubricants on wear rate and friction characteristics of mild steel and stainless steel sliding pair. Disc chamber was flooded with lubricants during testing. Fluoride was found to be the most successful additive to improve the performance of the given lubricant, whereas acetate as an additive made the base lubricant less efficient. It is believed that the strong bond stability of C–F bond during working conditions resulted in better performance of the lubricant after the addition of fluoride. © Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd 2020.