A vehicle’s engine needs the proper lubricant to run smoothly. But there are so many different brands of engine oil available in the market that selecting one can be a tricky affair. Luckily, there are only three main types of engine oils to select from.
Once you have chosen the type of lubricant you are going for you can lock on your desired brand and make your purchase. So, it is going to be synthetic vs semi-synthetic vs mineral oil. Let’s see who wins the fight.
We will start off with the most obvious choice for most and that is mineral oil. The word mineral is enough to persuade someone into buying mineral oil. It sounds more natural and environment-friendly.
The truth is that mineral oil is in fact extracted from the ground. It is the most basic type of engine oil that is commonly used in two-wheel vehicles. Mineral oil is a type of oil that is extracted from refined petroleum.
The petroleum substance undergoes a specific lab treatment so that it can perform across a wide temperature range. The lubricant is further strengthened by adding a few other chemicals so that the oil can meet the requirement of a two-wheeler.
Mineral oils are usually used in a two-wheeler. They are not suitable for large vehicles like SUV since they are a bit weak when put under stress. There is a large variety of mineral oils available in the market.
Mineral oil is cheaper as compared to its competitor’s synthetic and semi-synthetic oils. This type of lubricant works well in everyday driving.
It is not compatible with extreme weather conditions like when it is hot or cold beyond expectations.
Scientists created a fix that could work around the limitations of both synthetic and mineral oils given the restrictions of mineral oil and the advantages of synthetic oil over mineral oil. As a result, a new kind of oil was founded and it was called semi-synthetic.
While making semi-synthetic oil the manufacturer mixes a small amount of synthetic oil to a certain ratio of mineral oil. The addition of synthetic oil to the mineral oil enhances the viscosity of the product while also increasing its ability to withstand heat.
The semi-synthetic lubricant is able to enhance the performance of an engine by giving it the best ingredients for smooth function. Synthetic-blend oils are also low cost and easily available.
All major brands make semi-synthetic oils for car enthusiasts who prefer high-performance above anything else.
In reality, synthetic oil is actually mineral oil in disguise. The manufacturer takes mineral oil and heavily refines it in a lab to increase its viscosity and to give it much stronger properties than regular mineral oil.
The mineral-based oil is broken down to the smallest molecule to help remove any unwanted impure particles. The result is a perfectly crafted oil that is free of imperfections at a molecular level.
It not only performs well in high temperatures but it also lubricates perfectly well in low temperatures. So, no matter where you take your car, may it be the Sahara Desert or the Swiss Alps, the synthetic engine oil will have you covered.
However, such performance comes only at a price and in this case a hefty one indeed. The process involved to purify mineral oil to the molecular level requires a lot of effort and money, which ultimately raises the price for synthetic oil.
Scientists and chemists work very hard to maintain the composition of the oil to make it consistent. So the next time you complain about the exorbitant price of synthetic oil think twice about all the hard-working people that make it possible for synthetic oil to even exist.
Furthermore, synthetic oil is better in terms of performance in many aspects. We have already talked about its performance at varying temperatures. That’s not the oil’s limit, to be honest, synthetic oil evaporates less and it takes a considerable amount of time for it to turn into a black smudge.
Something you would expect if you are paying a hefty sum for engine oil. That’s a win-win situation for you.
Which Oil Is Best For You?
All three oils have advantages over the other. In essence, it really depends on the type of vehicle you drive, the way you drive it and the place where you drive it. These three factors can determine which lubricant suits your vehicle the best.
Generally speaking, if you are a daily commuter who lives in a warm climate mineral oil is the best choice for you. It will be cheaper for you and it would work fine as long as you are not looking for some performance.
You really do not need to pay extra for semi-synthetic or synthetic oil. However, keep in mind that mineral oil can go bad faster than synthetic and semi-synthetic. There is a trade-off which you would have to bear.
Always look for the mineral oil that matches your vehicle’s requirements and always go for a trusted brand. Low-quality brands would save you some money but they would destroy your car’s engine.
If you are looking for moderate performance, you would need to climb a step higher and choose semi-synthetic oil. This lubricant works well under moderate stress and performs equally well in moderate to extreme climates.
The semi-synthetic oil would easily protect your vehicle against friction and heat generated in the engine. You would enjoy added benefits without paying too much. Just a slight bump in the price would do the trick for you.
A high-performance vehicle would require high-quality fuel and equally high-quality oil to sustain the engine’s performance. You cannot be revving your vehicle down a straight road with mineral oil in the engine.
Synthetic-blend oil becomes necessary in such a case. This oil provides your engine with better protection by making its movements smooth. Aggressive drivers prefer this oil over any other because it allows them to reach the limits of their vehicles.
However, synthetic oil is expensive so it’s no use opting for some if you are not an aggressive driver. Many of us make this mistake and fill our car’s engine with synthetic oil. Although the lubricant does no harm to the engine it really makes a dent in your pocket.
No matter which lubricant you go for, it is important to choose a reputed brand. All major brands make mineral, semi-synthetic and synthetic oils, so it is not like you are limited in your choices if you choose one particular brand over the other.
Apart from some famous brands, some vehicle manufacturers sell their own oil. Lamborghini, Ferrari, and even Honda sell their own lubricants specifically made for their cars. If you are not sure about any third-party brands then you should always go for the oil provided by your vehicle’s manufacturer.
Perhaps the most important thing to look at is the oil’s viscosity. Viscosity is a measure of the oil’s thickness and how easily it flows through the engine. The thicker the oil the better it is for your engine if you live in a hot area.
Viscosity is shown by the numbers you see on the front of every lubricant container, which looks something like 5W 30. If you are living in a cold area like the mountains, you should go for a low viscosity lubricant so that the lubricant does not form a smudge.
Frequency of Oil Change
They say that engine oil should be changed every 3,000 miles. That is the recommended limit, by the way, and so that does not in any way mean that you cannot push your car further.
Modern cars are built in such a way that their engines are able to maintain oil integrity for a much longer time. Nowadays, you can take a car to 5,000 miles and even 10,000 miles depending on your driving.
Generally, if you drive more in cities and your daily drive requires you to brake and accelerate frequently; you should consider changing your vehicle’s oil sooner. Highway driving, on the other hand, would preserve engine oil for longer.
You should, however, pay no heed to mileage limits. They are only provided for guidance and so that oblivious drivers do not destroy their engine. The easiest way to know if it is time for an oil change is to frequently check oil levels.
The dip stick used to measure engine oil can show the condition of the oil and even the amount of oil available in the system. If the oil on the dip stick is some shade of yellow, you are in a good spot.
You would know it is time to change if you see black oil on the dip stick. Do this exercise once or twice and you will be able to guess the amount of time it takes for engine oil to wear out in your car.
There are many other things to consider when it comes to deciding the best engine oil for your vehicle. But that is a topic for another time.