What do you use for your engine oil, mineral oil or synthetic oil? If you drive, you must have considered what to use at least once in your life. So we prepared. Let us explain everything you need to know about engine oil!
Mineral oil is purely made of base oil? No!
Some may think that the difference between mineral oil and synthetic oil is the presence of synthetic additives, but it is a misunderstanding. Engine oil, whether mineral or synthetic, is made up of 80~90% base oil and additives for different functions (like anti-wear, anti-oxidation, anti-friction, etc.). Basically, mineral engine oil and synthetic engine oil both contain additives. So, what differentiates the two then? The answer is the base oil!
Basis of engine oil category: Base oil!
When mineral oil refined from the crude oil is used as the base oil, it is called mineral engine oil or general engine oil. Whereas if synthetic oil produced by chemical synthesis using an artificial method is the base oil, it is called synthetic engine oil. Even if same additives were used, the engine oil becomes either mineral or synthetic depending on the kind of base oil used.
Okay. What's the difference?
Undecorated instincts, mineral oil
Crude oil is refined to produce distillates such as gasoline and diesel. In the process, heavy oil is produced as a by-product. Mineral oil is created from that heavy oil. After going through several steps of latest refinement technology, impure materials are removed from the heavy oil to finally achieve the optimum level of lubrication required for engine oil. But, it is impossible to remove impure materials of sulfur substance since it came from crude oil. That is why it has disadvantages compared to synthetic oil of being chemically unstable, low viscosity (stickiness) at high temperature, causing sludge due to easy carbonization. Hence, higher frequency of engine oil change period for mineral engine oil than the synthetic one. However, lower price would be its biggest advantage.
Decorated strength, synthetic oil
As the name itself explains, it is artificial. You can understand it as a piece of artwork invented in the laboratory. It is a kind of oil with maximized chemical capacity of lubrication artificially produced to complement the weakness of mineral oil being chemically and thermally unstable.
You can expect that synthetic oil is very stable to high heat. Therefore, it prevents low viscosity and sludge formation caused by high heat generated in the engine during the drive. It protects the engine and prolongs the life of engine oil. It is a well-known fact, however, that synthetic engine oil is a lot more expensive than the mineral oil because it undergoes various chemical procedures.
Performance or price, what would be your choice?
Are you seeking for reasonable spending or meticulous enough to keep the oil change schedule without failure?
Engine oil is a part of the consumables so you don’t have to use engine oil too high quality for your engine. Moreover, the refinement technology has so improved over the past years that the typical weakness of mineral oil is mostly overcome. Above all, mineral oil is a lot cheaper than the synthetic oil. To take into consideration those elements, mineral oil is indeed an appealing option.
If you are a meticulous person who never fails to bring your car to the service center on schedule, using mineral engine oil would be a nice choice. As we mentioned earlier, mineral engine oil does have disadvantages of low viscosity and sludge formation for long-hour or long-distance drive. In case of neglect, it will lead to low fuel economy, noise and vibration. It is thus so important to change the engine oil periodically.
Do you value performance or miss the schedule because you are so busy?
If you are a consumer who values performance and also too busy to keep the oil change schedule in time, a use of synthetic oil is best recommended. Synthetic engine oil prolongs the lifespan of engine oil by delaying the oxidation in the long-hour and long-distance drive based on its higher chemical and thermal stability. Other than lubricant function, engine oil is to the engine like coolant to the condenser. Overall performance is increased and it protects the engine itself.
Mineral and synthetic engine oil are both truthful to its basic function of lubrication. Mineral engine oil is ‘specialized’ for its price while synthetic engine oil ‘specialized’ for its better performance. So, we cannot just say that one is better than the other. You need to consider the opportunity expenses, meaning to say the actual price of the engine oil, time and effort, other consumables like filters before deciding which type of engine oil to use for your car!
Engine oil story
Let me tell you an actual story to remind how important an engine oil change is. One client came to the service center for regular check-up. We informed him that his unit reached the first 1,000km preventive maintenance service so we need to change the engine oil. He said it is okay to ride for a couple of hundred kilometers so he will come back next time. Few weeks later, his unit was towed to the service center with the engine completely destroyed. The inspection result showed too much sludge was formed and melted into the engine, stuck beyond repair all because he failed to change the engine oil in time. To save Php 5,000, he risked the engine and eventually he had to spend Php 200,000. Of course, the repair service was not covered by warranty for the neglect of regular PMS.
A periodic engine oil change based on the expert’s recommendation is there for a reason. Pleading to all the car owners reading this article, heed to the precautions and advices given by the service center.