Synthetic Oil Review - Searching for Good Synthetic Oil?
This is a quick synthetic oil review for those in search of properly designed and manufactured synthetic motor oil.
A good synthetic motor oil will provide superior engine protection at extended oil change intervals as compared to conventional oils. Synthetic oil will also provide engine power and gas mileage improvements over conventional oils. Synthetic oils are superior to conventional but watch out, not all synthetic oils are created equal. Below is a quick synthetic oil review.
What is synthetic oil? A brief review of Webster's Dictionary to reveal the accurate meaning of the word synthetic finds: to be devised, arranged, or fabricated for special situations to imitate or replace usual realities. Thus by Webster’s, synthetic oil is fully man-made oil not refined crude (conventional oil).
So why use a synthesized oil vs conventional oil? Engines operated with good synthetic oil last longer, require fewer repairs, are more responsive with more power, get better fuel economy, and emit cleaner exhaust.
Good synthetic oils last longer than conventional oils offsetting the higher per bottle price tag over conventional oils. How can a good synthetic oil do this? It comes down to the fundamental differences between synthetic and conventional oils.
Good synthetic oil is designed and is pure as opposed to conventional oil which is crude pumped from the ground and refined to varied levels of purity. Even highly refined and further processed conventional oil is not pure.
Good synthetic oils are pure because the molecular structure is assembled from its base constituents into the exact hydrocarbon chains required for the specific lubrication application. Pure synthetic oil has no odd shaped molecules taking up space and increasing friction as found in refined oil. Thus it can be designed with improved thermal stability and enhanced lubricating properties to better protect equipment.
By design synthetic oil is better than conventional but how do you find a "good" synthetic oil. Lets start with the bottle. Good synthetic oil companies will tell you how frequently to change your oil (longer change intervals is indicative of a better synthetic oil as long as the company is reputable).
First, the difficulty in finding good synthetic oil is due to the common corporate drive towards maximizing the bottom line. Too often shortsighted sacrifices in product quality are taken to squeeze out additional profit truly at our expense. This marginal improvement in profit is made by touting the excellent benefits of a good synthetic oil while supplying a low end "synthetic" oil. This profit motivation requires us to screen carefully for quality synthetic oil. There are a handful of key things to look for…
A good oil company sells a fairly priced quality product that creates value for its customers. The true value of good synthetic oils are improved performance and extended life. This is verifiable information and should be labeled on the bottle or be provided in the advertising. Good synthetic oil will indicate the extended oil service life on the bottle (this is very rare).
What to look for next... Group IV PAO base oil. Mix oil base and oil additives to create protection that you pour into your engine. Oil base stocks are classified by the American Petroleum Institute as group II, group III, or group IV. Group III and IV are called synthetics though only the group IV stocks are worthy of the synthetic designation. Group II base stocks are used to produce run of the mill conventional mineral oils.
Group III base stocks are highly refined (hydrocracked and isodewaxed) conventional oils. Most of the "synthetics" found on the shelf of your neighborhood auto parts store or stuff Marts are group III. Group IV are fully synthesized oils and are what we should look for (PAO polyalphaolefin).
Now with a good PAO base - lets mix in some additive. Additives are provided to further protect metal surfaces, extend the oil life, and extend the range of an oil’s applications.
Additives in synthetic oil are provided to deal with the conditions associated with the internal environment of the engine. Additives in conventional oil are provided to handle the thermal breakdown of the oil itself and the engine environment. A PAO based oil is very stable on its own and has a naturally long life providing proper lubricating film in an engine. This means the purity and thermal breakdown resistance of synthetic base allows the final base and additive combination to protect better and last longer than conventional oil and additive.
Adding detergents to keep the engine clean further enhances oil life and protection. Alkalinity is increased to minimize engine corrosion by neutralizing acids introduced by the byproducts of combustion. Other additives include antiwear agents to provide additional protection against wear (like zinc added to prevent damage when metal to metal contact occurs under abnormal high load conditions).
Put simply the additives in good synthetic oils need only take care of engine protection without the burden of oil breakdown found in conventional oil.
How do you and I find the group IV PAO with a good additive package. The Manufacturers that produce and sell group IV based synthetic oils are proud of it. They know they are offering the best and will tell you on the oil bottle or their website that you are buying a PAO (polyalphaolefin) basestock oil.
PAO means top of the line, longest oil life, and the best engine protection currently available. Because of the corporate tendency towards high profit margins PAO engine oils are rare relative to all the other oils commonly found on the shelf.
Finding published information for a particular oils additives is much more difficult than determining an oils base (like finding PAO). Additives are the added elixir allowing the really exceptional synthetics to distinguish themselves from the everyday just good enough to be called synthetic oils. Unfortunately additive packages are typically proprietary and the oil companies are not prone to sharing this information in detail.
Can the premium price for a good synthetic oil be justified. Is all that protection necessary, who wants to drive a vehicle forever anyway. Well, in addition to added protection, good synthetic oil will pay back on extending oil drain intervals.
How long will good synthetic oil last in an engine? It depends on the application and condition of the equipment. Often good synthetic oils can easily be used for 2 to 3 times the change interval required of a conventional oil and sometimes significantly longer while still providing superior protection.
The oil manufacture should indicate the service life of their product and back it with a warranty. No warranty, outrageous claims, and no history then move on and find a better synthetic. As always oil analysis at regular intervals is the greatest insurance your engine is properly protected. Oil analysis can be used to tailor the perfect change interval for an engine and synthetic oil combination.
My personal experience using synthetics has been very positive. I have noticed significant improvements using premium PAO synthetic motor oils in my own vehicles. I sincerely hope this synthetic oil review helps in your search.
Where can I buy AMSOIL oil