Oil is a three-letter word that has a lot of meaning. No, we are not referring to cooking oil that is used to make all the delicacies out there. Instead, we are referring to engine oil, which is essential for a car to function properly. Initially, car manufacturers did not use crude oil for anything other than protection of their car parts. They just sold cars with their own fuel and lubrication techniques, leading to inconsistencies and failures. As automobiles became more and more common, specifically in the early 1930s, these car makers realized the need for standardization among their vehicles. The Society of Automobile Engineers in the USA soon began this process with a focus on engine oil, deciding to classify oils by their viscosity, or the speed at which the liquid pours. As time went by, engine oil became one of the most in demand consumables in the world. Now, every car owner should know the basics of engine oil, and this article suits that purpose perfectly.
Types of Engine Oil: Conventional vs Synthetic
The most common types of motor oils are synthetic and conventional. One of the most common asked questions is “What is the difference between the types of oils, and don’t they all just power the engine?” Synthetic oil consists of chemical compounds that are artificially made. These chemical compounds ensure that synthetic oil is composed of only the best aspects of crude oil. On the other hand, conventional oil is derived directly from crude oil and is untouched by man.
- Measurably better low- and high-temperature viscosity performance at service temperature extremes.
- Better chemical and shear stability.
- Decreased evaporative loss.
- Resistance to oxidation, thermal breakdown, and oil sludge problems.
- Extended drain intervals with the environmental benefit of less oil waste.
- Improved fuel economy in certain engine configurations.
- Better lubrication during extreme cold weather starts.
- Can provide longer engine life.
- Superior protection against “ash” and other deposit formation in engine hot spots (particularly in turbocharged and supercharged engines) for less oil burn-off and reduced chances of damaging oil passageway clogging.
- Increased horsepower and torque due to less initial drag on the engine.
- Does not contain detergents.
- Conventional motor oil can be up to 3 times cheaper than that of a synthetic.
- New car engines require a break-in period of approximately 5,000 miles after they come off the factory line and are sent to dealerships. Manufacturers use their own brand of conventional oil when they assemble the car, so some companies recommend it is best to keep “seasoning” the car after.
- Potential decomposition problems in certain chemical environments
- Because rotary engines inject small quantities of motor oil into the combustion chamber to lubricate the apex seals, and burned synthetic oil causes gummy deposits on the apex seals, synthetic oils are not recommended in automotive rotary engines.
- Cost of a synthetic oil change can be up to 3 times more expensive than conventional
- Conventional motor oil cannot be broken down to a level that just rots away and disappears such as organic waste and even when it is used up, it still leaves an environmentally toxic sludge in its wake.
- Due to our dependence on it, scarcity has become an issue over the last 20 years, driving the prices of oil (and as a byproduct, gasoline) up in cost.
- Reduced lubrication at extremely cold temperatures and increased breakdown in extreme heat.
We recommend getting oil changed at your trusted auto service center. In case you need to do it yourself, here’s a quick checklist.
How to change your oil
- Check the type and amount of oil needed
- Get together your filter, wrenches, and other supplies
- Prepare your vehicle
- Locate the oil filter and drain plug
- Drain the old oil
- Tighten the drain plug
- Change the oil filter
- Add the new oil
- Check the oil level
Both synthetic and conventional oil have their pros and cons, and it is up to the car owner regarding the oil type that they want to use with their engine. After analyzing all the information presented, if you, as a car owner, want to switch from one type of motor oil to another, you may do so. Just ensure that you buy the same weight of oil that your vehicle is accustomed to. Car owners can make the switch, which is worth the cost because synthetic motor oil provides more effective protection for your car, may even prolong the life of your engine and would cost the average driver just $65 more each year. As they say, there is always a price to pay.