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What Type of Motor Oil is Best for You?

Updated on January 2, 2010

How to Choose the Right Type of Motor Oil



What Type of Motor Oil is Best for Your Car?


Oil is the lifeblood of your engine.  Not only does it provide lubrication for the vital parts, it even helps with the cooling.  Choosing the type is important, especially if you intend to drive your car “forever”.  I believe about any type of oil that meets your manufacturer’s specification will get you to the 100 thousand mile mark.  Going the next hundred is where the oil type will prove it’s self. 


So with the different brands and types how do you go about making an informed choice? 


For this writing we will just sort through three major types being marketed, Standard, Synthetic or Blend.


The basics of building motor oils.


Motor oils are essentially chemicals derived from the crude oil refining process.  They are drawn off as fractional distillations in the crude oil in the refining  process creating what are termed base oils. These base oils are blended with various different fractions to gain stability . To meet the performance standards various additives are added which also are derived from the refining process.  These are blended in specific formulas to meet the classification standards set forth by the American Petroleum Institute. Without getting too deep in the testing methods and the classification process, we will simply state that there are standards that must be met to meet the API categories for various motor oil grades. 


The additives are critical and an expensive part of building the motor oils.  Additives come in a variety of quality and price ranges. The companies that manufacture the additive actually provide the oil companies with many of the formulations.  As in most things, you get what you pay for. The better the additives, the longer they remain in the performance specifications without breaking down.


Now with some of the basics in mind we now examine three of  main types that are marketed and installed today.


Petroleum Based Motor Oils – These are the basic motor oils which are formulated to meet the standards set forth by engine manufacturers.  They offer good basic protection and meet the API specifications. To the average car owner this oil when changed at the proper intervals will offer the adequate protection and is the most economical choice.  


Synthetic Motor Oils  –.  The chemical composition is different from the regular oils as they are made from a certain categories of synthetic chemicals.  The benefit is an extremely stable product that will remain that way in severe service longer than regular oils.  Research has shown that up to 75% of engine wear occurs on startup.  If you do not garage your car and it is subjected to cold temperatures, a synthetic is very beneficial.  Other conditions such as mountain driving can make this a wise choice.  Synthetic also can result in slightly better fuel economy as less energy is spent pumping the oil through the engine.  The only down side is the cost which is double the conventional oils.


Synthetic Blend – These can be the happy medium by combining the standard petroleum based oils with the pure synthetic oils.  They will give you some of the benefits of synthetic at a lower cost.


The bottom line is your best oil type should be dictated by your diving conditions and environment you car is subjected to. 


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    • QualityS profile image

      QualityS 7 years ago from Prairie Village Kansas

      I am involved in another business involving ethanol. Ethanol has 10% less btu than gasoline so your mileage is cut by this percentage.

    • someonewhoknows profile image

      someonewhoknows 8 years ago from south and west of canada,north of ohio

      If,history of our fuel for cars had been different we would be running our cars on ethanol more than gasoline.Rockerfeller and Henry Ford were at odds when it came to fuel for cars.Ethanol burns cleaner and has an higher octane than gasoline.The engine oil stays cleaner too.Less engine wear as well.Prohibition was started by Rockerfeller because he didn't want to compete with ethanol.