Motor oils come in various types, and it’s important to understand the differences between them.
In this article, we will compare and contrast conventional, synthetic, and semi-synthetic oils to help you make an informed decision when it comes to choosing the right oil for your vehicle.
Comparing Motor Oil Types
Conventional Motor Oil
Conventional motor oil is made from 100% mineral oil, which is derived from the refining process of crude oil. The crude oil is distilled and cleaned to produce a high-quality base oil. During this process, there are no substantial molecular changes made to the hydrocarbons in the base oil.
Synthetic Motor Oil
Synthetic motor oil is derived through the synthesis of new base oil components, resulting in a higher-performing base fluid. Unlike conventional oil, synthetic oil is not derived from crude oil. Instead, it is chemically engineered to meet specific performance requirements.
Semi-Synthetic Motor Oil
Semi-synthetic motor oil, also known as synthetic blend oil, is a combination of synthetic and conventional base oils. The exact ratio of synthetic to conventional oil can vary depending on the brand and formulation.
There is no specific definition for the amount of synthetic oil that should be included in a semi-synthetic motor oil.
Benefits of Synthetic and Semi-Synthetic Oil
The use of synthetic base oil can significantly improve the performance of motor oil. Synthetic oils offer several advantages over conventional oils, including:
- Improved performance at low temperatures
- Greater thermal stability or heat resistance
- Better oil combustion performance or lower volatility
- Formulation of lighter viscosity oils, such as 0W-20
- Improved shear stability or resistance to viscosity breakdown
Semi-synthetic oil, while not as high-performing as synthetic oil, still provides some benefits compared to conventional oil. It offers a balance between the cost-effectiveness of conventional oil and the performance advantages of synthetic oil.
Which is Better: Semi-Synthetic or Synthetic Oil?
In general, the higher the percentage of synthetic oil in the motor oil, the better the performance. A fully synthetic motor oil with a robust additive system will always outperform semi-synthetic oils. However, a well-formulated semi-synthetic oil can still offer performance benefits compared to conventional oil.
When choosing between semi-synthetic and synthetic oil, consider factors such as your vehicle’s requirements, driving conditions, and manufacturer recommendations. Always follow the vehicle manufacturer’s oil service and change intervals.
One of the most important aspects is to carefully select a good brand that guarantees its motor oils to be of high quality and excellent performance, such as Ultra1Plus, Motul or Castrol.
Durability of Semi-Synthetic Oil
Adding synthetic base oil to a motor oil formulation can result in a stronger oil due to the benefits of synthetics. The amount of synthetic oil in the base oil composition affects the durability of semi-synthetic motor oil.
Castrol, for example, incorporates a certain amount of synthetic material in their synthetic formulas to improve oil burn-off performance and low-temperature flow. However, a robust additive system is also crucial for overall oil performance.
It is important to note that the durability of semi-synthetic oil depends on the specific formulation and the individual vehicle’s requirements. While the inclusion of synthetic oil can create stronger motor oils, it is always recommended to follow the vehicle manufacturer’s oil service and change intervals.
In conclusion, the main difference between conventional, synthetic, and semi-synthetic motor oils lies in the type of base oil used in their formulation. Conventional oil is derived from crude oil, while synthetic oil is chemically engineered and offers superior performance. Semi-synthetic oil combines the benefits of both conventional and synthetic oils.
When deciding which oil to use, consider factors such as your vehicle’s requirements, driving conditions, and manufacturer recommendations. While fully synthetic oils generally provide the best performance, a well-formulated semi-synthetic oil can still offer benefits over conventional oil.
Remember to always follow the vehicle manufacturer’s recommendations for oil service and change intervals to ensure optimal engine performance and longevity.