If you're looking into buying synthetic lubricants, you may be wondering what the difference is between regular and synthetic options as well as when it's best to use either one. Learn more about the differences as well as when it's best to use synthetic and regular oil.
What Is Synthetic Oil?
While more natural oil deposits exist beneath Earth, synthetic oils are manufactured through a chemical reaction of base fluid and additives. This reaction produces an oil that's remarkably close to the theoretical "ideal" in terms of composition, purity, and performance. Semi-synthetics, on the other hand, have a higher oil content and include less than 30% oil in concentrate while pure synthetics contain no oil at all.
How Synthetic Compares To Regular Oil
The benefits of synthetic lubricants are vast and varied. The biggest benefit of synthetic oil is that it lasts longer than regular oil. It can last up to twice as long. Another big benefit is that synthetics are more resistant to heat and oxidation, meaning your engine will run cooler and cleaner.
Synthetic oils are also more resistant to viscosity breakdown, meaning they won't thicken up in extreme temperatures like regular oils can. Additionally, synthetic oils are often less dense than regular oils, meaning they will flow better at low temperatures.
All of these benefits mean that your engine will last longer and run more efficiently with synthetic lubricants than with regular lubricants.
Now that you know more about the differences between synthetic oil and regular, it's important to discuss some of the downsides of choosing synthetics.
Shopping for Synthetic Oil: SAE and API Ratings
All motor oils, whether synthetic or not, must meet minimum standards set by the American Petroleum Institute (API). For several decades, API has rated motor oil based on its ability to protect against engine wear and failure under certain conditions. The latest version is called the "API SN," but previous ratings include:
- "SM," a previous version of the SN standard
- "SH," a previous version of the SJ standard
- "SJ," a previous version of the SM standard
- "SL," a previous version of the current API SN standard
When looking for synthetic oil, it's important to make sure you're getting oil that meets or exceeds the API SN rating. You can also look for an oil that has the SAE International certification.
In the end, the benefits of synthetic oils far outweigh the downsides. If you are serious about protecting your investment, then synthetic oil can be the way to go.