The origin and role of tribochemical reaction products formed while sliding silicon oxide surfaces in the presence of adsorbed alcohol molecules in equilibrium with the vapor phase were studied. Wear and friction coefficient studies with varying contact loads and n-pentanol vapor environments were used to determine under what operating conditions the tribochemical reaction species was produced. Imaging time-of-flight secondary ion mass spectrometry and microinfrared spectroscopy found that hydrocarbon species with a molecular weight higher than the starting vapor molecules are produced when there is wear of the SiO(2) surface. When the n-pentanol vapor lubrication is effective and the silicon oxide surface does not wear, then the tribochemical polymerization products are negligible. These results imply that the tribochemical polymerization is associated with the substrate wear process occurring due to insufficient adsorbate supply or high mechanical load. The tribochemical reactions do not seem to be the primary lubrication mechanism for vapor phase lubrication of SiO(2) surfaces with alcohol, although they may lubricate the substrate momentarily upon failure of the alcohol vapor delivery to the sliding contact.