Which is better, synthetic or mineral motor oil?

Every motorist knows that their engine requires oil to lubricate and protect it. However, that oil needs to be able to perform in a wide range of temperatures and still be able to do its job well. Wear and tear on the engine will reduce its ability to perform and also shorten its life but with regular servicing and using good quality motor oil, you can lessen the damage and improve the longevity. One question that often crops up is which is better, synthetic motor oil or mineral motor oil? The first thing to look at is how each is made. Synthetic motor oil is created in a laboratory from synthesized chemicals whereas mineral motor oil is a product of the petrochemical industry. Both have their advantages and disadvantages but as your vehicle’s engine is dependent upon what you put in it, it makes good sense to find out which one would suit your requirements best.


Synthetic Oil versus Regular Oil Comparisons


1. The price of synthetic oil is approximately double that of mineral oil, however, it can remain in the engine for much longer. Conventional oil is recommended to be changed every 3 – 5000 miles but synthetic oil can generally last for double that time. This means that although the initial outlay is more, less frequent oil changes will balance out the cost.


2. Fuel economy is improved when there is less friction and as a result, less energy is required to make the engine run. This is where synthetic motor oil has the advantage as studies have shown that mileage can be improved. The viscosity of synthetic oil remains the same whereas regular motor oil can be quite thick in cold temperatures. This means that the mineral oil needs to be warmed up so that it can flow through the engine. During this warm up period, the engine has less protection from friction.


3. Extremes of temperatures can have a devastating effect on engines as can the daily commute. On the daily commute vehicles will be stopping and going and stopping again many times during the journey. This can reduce the effectiveness of motor oil and mineral oil can become riddled with detritus from the constant heating and cooling process which will damage the engine. Synthetic oil has a certain resistance to this process.


4. Most new vehicles have been developed to run on synthetic motor oil and as such, where good quality synthetic motor oil is used, vehicles do not show the same issues with cold starting or breakdown that older vehicles do.


Comparing synthetic and mineral oil is a bit like comparing chalk with cheese and although synthetic oil costs more, it has very positive effects on the engine. Some older vehicles will undoubtedly go better on mineral oil, so it is up to the motorist to choose which will suit them best.

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