Different Kinds of Motor Oil
One of the most basic choices you can make when it comes to taking care of your car is what kind of motor oil to use. Since the invention of synthetic motor oil in 1929, we have developed many different kinds of motor oil—so which one is right for your engine? Keep reading to learn more about the different kinds of motor oils available on the market today!
Widely regarded as the most common type of motor oil, conventional oil is made from fractionated crude oil. Because it is a basic petroleum-derived lubricant, it is best for old cars with low to average mileage and simple motors.
As you may have guessed by the name, high-mileage motor oil is designed for cars over a certain mileage. Most high mileage motor oils have additives that cause gaskets to swell, thus reducing leakages. Frequently, high mileage motor oils will also contain detergents designed to purify your engine from accumulated deposits, and may even reduce wanted emissions from the combustion process. While high mileage motor oil may be beneficial at 75,000 miles, most people consider 100,000 miles to be “high mileage.”
Synthetic engine oil was originally designed to optimize engine health. While it is also primarily derived from crude oil, it contains man-made chemical compounds as well. Synthetic motor oil is generally regarded as a better lubricant than conventional motor oil, as it prevents damaging engine build-up, provides higher viscosity at a wide range of temperatures, and is unlikely to oxidize or acidify over time. While full synthetic motor oil has been known to reduce engine drag and improve fuel efficiency, it does command a higher price—in fact, synthetic oil changes can cost up to 54% more than conventional oil changes, though they can be done less frequently than a standard oil change.
A blend of conventional crude oil motor oil and other oxidation-fighting additives, synthetic blend motor oil is ideal for someone who wants the benefits of synthetic motor oil at a fraction of the cost. Here are some of the common additives in motor oil:
· Friction moderators. Especially important for drivers in warmer climates or who frequently tow heavy loads, added friction moderators can help improve fuel economy and overall engine function.
· Detergents. As the name implies, the main function of this additive is to keep your engine clean. Detergents prevent deposits from accumulating at places where your engine has a tendency to overheat, such as around the pistons.
· Anti-Wear Additives. The primary function of anti-wear agents is to provide a protective layer where metal meets metal in your engine. This includes pistons, cylinder walls, cams, and lifters.
· Dispersants. This kind of additive serves to absorb and contain any deposits so that they don’t collect on your engine
· Corrosion preventers. These prevent oil acidification and moisture from accumulating in your engine.
· Viscosity adaptors. Aimed to increase your engine’s adaptability to temperature extremes, viscosity adaptors are added to improve overall engine function.
Other additives include antioxidants, anti-foam agents, and agents which prevent wax in the oil from hardening in cold temperatures. These additives all serve to increase the longevity of the motor by providing a thick layer of moisture-resistant lubrication essential to basic motor function.
The primary function of motor oil additives is to extend the life of the motor. This is typically achieved through ingredients that create even more lubrication, the flexibility of operating parameters like temperature or tow capacity, and preventing moisture, bubbles, deposits, and rust. (Want more information on the benefits of using synthetic motor oil? Check out our recent post on the topic!)
When it comes to selecting the right motor oil for your engine, there are many factors at play. What sort of climate you live in, how regularly you drive your car, mileage, and age of your vehicle all contribute. While it may seem like synthetic oil is the superior option for motor oil, depending on your circumstances it may not be worth the money. This is a good opportunity to check in with your engine health and see if you’d like to make the switch to synthetic today!
To browse available varieties of Amsoil products to find the right motor oil for your vehicle click here!