Phosphates are successfully used in motor oils as antiwear agents. They reduce wear by forming a protective metal phosphate film on the rubbing surface. The origin of the extraordinary antiwear properties of the phosphates remains a matter of debates for decades. Our research indicates that unique antiwear properties of the phosphate films might be related to their smart materials behavior. Low coordination metal phosphates create open networks, which remain soft at low loads and stiffen rapidly upon loading. Material exhibiting such a “smart” effect can replace a system of layers of “normal” materials with increasing stiffness. Exploring the concept of smart materials behavior we gain confidence in finding new materials that can be used as prototypes of new generation additives.