Perhaps the single most important component in a car engine is the lubricating oil.
The oil used in car engines has two main ingredients, base oil and additives.
The base oil is refined from crude oil, which is then subject to various further processes to remove undesirable components and stabilise the oil. Additives, such as detergents and corrosion inhibitors are then incorporated into the final product to improve and maintain the performance of the oil.
Synthetic lubricants were originally designed for use by the aerospace industry in high temperature gas turbine/jet engine applications. Synthetic motor oils were developed in the 1970’s, and the first commercially available synthetic oil for motor vehicles was introduced by the French oil company MOTUL in 1971.
Despite their name, most synthetic motor oils are derived from Group 111 base mineral oils (from the purest part of the mineral oil refraction process)
Synthetic oil is manufactured in controlled conditions. It is engineered specifically to operate under rigorous conditions which may cause a conventional oil to break down.
The benefits of synthetic oils include:
- Better performance at extreme temperatures (hot and cold)
- Reduced friction
- Reduced engine wear
- Improved fuel efficiency
- Chemical stability
- Decreased evaporative loss
- Resistance to sludge problems
- Extended service life
Synthetic oil is completely compatible with conventional oil and can be safely mixed.
Many manufacturers offer ‘Semi-synthetic’ oil, a blend of synthetic and mineral oil, which offers many of the advantages of synthetic oil at a reduced cost. When changing to synthetic oil it is necessary only to ensure that the oil is of the correct grade for your engine as specified by the manufacturer.