What is Synthetic Oil & Which Oil Is The Best [2021 Guide]

There are massive debates about engine oils. “Which is the best, why it is the one, What’s the difference, how it is possible”. In order to answer all these questions, I have geared up this small guide on synthetic oils

The guide will help you know “what is synthetic oil. what is synthetic oil made of, is synthetic better than conventional oil, what is the difference between synthetic and conventional oil, and finally some other advantages of synthetic oils?

So, before you put oil in your ride and fire up the ignition. I say you should fuel yourself with some info…

What is Synthetic Oil

So, in simple words, man-made oil is termed synthetic oil. A lubricant that contains chemical compounds made by artificial techniques such as synthesizing.

What is Synthetic Oil Made Of?
  • Base Oil
  • Powder Additives
  • Carrier Oil

The synthetic and conventional/traditional motor oils are made from the refining process.

Many synthetics start’s their journey with highly refined crude oil and this crude oil is obtained from deep underground mining.

Thus, the source of all types of oil is the same. The factor which differentiates the synthetic from other oils is the level of refinement.

This level of refinement obtained depends upon the manufacturing procedure performed on base oils. These oils are divided into 5 main base oil groups.

API Base Oil Groups
  • Group I
  • Group II
  • Group III
  • Group IV
  • Group V

Remember that there is a clear-cut difference between synthetic or other oils used in air compressors from the synthetic or other oils used in cars.

Those are called “Air Compressor Oils” and these are referred to as “Motor Oils.

Synthetic Blend Vs Full Synthetic

Battle of Oils: Conventional Oil, Synthetic Oils & Full Synthetic Oils

What Is Synthetic Blend oil?

Synthetic blends are less refined. Produced by combining conventional oil with full synthetic oils. You do get the benefit of more refinement and additives with a superior quality synthetic blend.

But, impurities come along in lower degrees. Also, uneven molecular size from conventional oils remains in the blend at a minor level.

Surely they are low-priced than full synthetics. But they are more powerful than conventional oils.

What Is Full Synthetic Oil?

The full synthetic oils are extraordinarily refined. They are known as the purest type of synthetic oil. They are produced through complex chemical cycles i.e., chemical development from petrochemicals.

These cycles totally eliminate the impurities from the crude oil. Only even size molecules are left for the modern engine’s demand. The uniform molecular size grants potent protection and powerful performance to the engine.

Full synthetic oils are 3 to 4x more expensive than synthetic blends. But, with 3 to 4x more protection and performance.

Here are a few examples of the best full synthetic oils:

Full Synthetic Oils
  • 0w20 Synthetic Oil
  • 5w20 Synthetic Oil
  • 5w30 Synthetic Oil

Synthetic Vs Conventional Oil

Next up the second round is between synthetic and conventional oil. So, here is a quick chart showing the difference between synthetic and conventional oil.

You can either read the chart or go into more in-depth details about how both oils work, differ, and the advantages/disadvantages both have…

Synthetic Vs Conventional Oil Comparison Table

Differences Synthetic Oils Conventional Oils
Chemical Composition
Made With Lab Chemical Cycles Crude Oils
Added Additives Yes No
High Refining Procedure Yes No
Engine Wear & Damage Protection
Protection For Longer Duration For Shorter Duration
Friction/Overheating Higher Protection Lower or No Protection
Engine Cleaner
Impurities Fewer Higher
Sludge/Deposit Formation Low High
Motor Oil Flow In Cold Temperature
Oil Flow In Winter Quicker & Smoother Takes More Time
Engine Oil Breakdown Temperature
Temperature Breakdown High Resistance Low Resistance
Oil Evaporation Rate Lower Higher
Oil Viscosity & Form
Viscosity Grade Good Low
Black Thicker Form Has More Constant Flow Causes Clogs In Engine
Turbochargers (Turbo)
Extreme Environment Stress Good Performance Poor Performance
Oil Burning Duration Low High
Deposits After Burning No Yes
Engine Power/Performance Boosts Up No Boost
Oil Change Intervals
Oil Change Frequency Once A Year 3 To 5 Times/Year
In Terms of Miles 10,000 To 15,000 3,000 To 5,000
Oil Change Prices
Overall Price Expensive Cheapest of All
5Qz Bottle Cost [Estimated] $45 To $60 $20 To $30
Oil Change Price [Estimated] $70 To $80 $35 To $50
Engine Type & Usage
Older Engines Not Compatible Fully Compatible
Old Racecars/Rotary Engines Not Supported Fully Supported

Synthetic Vs Conventional Oil Infographic

Synthetic Vs Conventional Oil infographic

Detailed Difference Between Synthetic And Conventional Oil

Chemical Composition

One of the key differences that make synthetic oils completely apart from conventional oils is their chemical composition.

Synthetic Oils

  • The synthetic oils at their core have additives and the manufacturing is carried out with a highly refined procedure.

Conventional Oils

  • While on the other hand, conventional oils are just made with crude oil as their base. No high refining procedure is used in their production.

Engine Wear & Damage Protection

The engine oil act as a barrier between the engine parts. Because engine parts rub with each other and produce tremendous heat friction. This friction can damage your engine pretty quickly.

Synthetic Oils

  • Synthetic oils maintain wear protective properties for a longer duration due to the addition of additives and refining process. Thus, it increases engine life by protecting your engine parts from wear and damage caused by friction and overheat.

Conventional Oils

  • But, conventional oils break down quickly because they don’t have the additives and refining procedure. Their ability to halt the engine wear decreases accordingly. As a result, engine life will only decline as friction rises.

Engine Cleaner

Oil performs as your personal engine cleaner. It circulates through your engine and pickups the deposits.

Synthetic Oils

  • Synthetic oil contains fewer impurities. Thus, it can greatly repel deposit and sludge production.

Conventional Oils

  • On the flip side of the coin, conventional oils are not that refined. They can quickly form sludge and deposits over time.

Motor Oil Flow In Cold Temperature

When you are not riding your ride, the oil doesn’t flow and settles. But, when the ignition fires up, the oil is also fired up and starts flowing. The oil rushes towards the important engine parts and guards against the friction.

Especially in the winter months or if you live in colder regions. This process slows down to a greater extent. That’s why I always say that the cold temperature affects both you and your car.

Synthetic Oils

  • Now in synthetic oils, this flow process is very quick even in winter. As you start your ride, the oils also start flowing. So, no damage-causing friction will happen as oil is flowing speedily and smoothly.

Conventional Oils

  • In the case of conventional oils, the oil takes more time until it’s ready for smooth flow. This gap in time allows friction to dig its claws and cause engine wear.

Engine Oil Breakdown Temperature

Whenever are you driving, the engine runs along and becomes hot. With the passage of time, this high temperature causes faster engine oil breakdown or evaporation. Thus, exposing the engine to wear out quickly and easily.

Especially, in hot climates or if you are native to hot regions. It can also happen when you are in situations like hauling and towing.

Synthetic Oils

  • Synthetic oils become more resistant to hot temperatures. Because of their refinement procedures, the addition of additives, and process cycles. Thus, they provide greater resistance to quicker engine oil breakdown.

Conventional Oils

  • But, the conventional oils are not the same. As soon as heat gets to them they start breaking down or evaporate at a quick pace. That is return exposes the engine to wear at high speed.

Oil Viscosity & Form

The oil with the passage of time becomes thicker and blacker like black tar. Because of the impurities, it has absorbed. The more viscous it becomes the more sluggish it gets. Thus, the critical engine parts don’t receive the oil at the proper time and start falling apart.

Synthetic Oils

  • Synthetic oils have way better viscosity compared to conventional oils. That’s why they perform better both in cold and heat as I have mentioned above.
    Even the black thicker form of synthetic oils has more constant flow than conventional oils.

Conventional Oils

  • On the flip side, conventional oils don’t have good viscosity because they don’t have additives in them. That’s the reason they have the most thicker and viscous foam.
    Not to mention the black thicker form which only becomes clog in the engine parts.

Turbochargers (Turbo)

Turbochargers known as Turbo are turbine-driven forced induction systems. They are used to boost the engine’s power efficiency.

Auto Manufacturers now are constructing smaller engines for maximized fuel performance. Plus, adding turbochargers to boost engine power.

These turbo-engines are way hotter than the normal ones. They burn internal fuels at immense speed.

According to one report by MobilOil, the temperature of the oil can go beyond 400° Fahrenheit. The turboshaft can speed up to 200,00 RPM which is twice the speed a normal engine can achieve.

Synthetic Oils

  • The synthetic oils in this extremely stress-loaded environment can perform smoothly. They don’t burn that rapidly and don’t leave any deposits behind. Protect your car engine by boosting the overall engine power for peak performance.

Conventional Oils

  • On the dark side, the conventional oils burn at 2x speed, especially in turbo-engines. The burned-up oil leaves deposits on your engine parts. Which causes engine failure at an amazingly high rate.

Oil Change Intervals

For an average car, it requires about 6 months to change the oil. If you count in miles it would be 7,500 miles for an average car.

Synthetic Oils

  • Synthetic oils have fewer impurities and with added additives, the deposits are cleaned quickly and effortlessly. Thus, the oil change intervals are quite amazingly long. It is estimated that
    For Example – Cars with synthetic oils running in them only require to change oil only once a year. In terms of miles, it would range from 10 to 15,000 miles which are 3 to 5x more than conventional oils.

Conventional Oils

  • As for conventional oils, they don’t have the added benefit of additives. Plus, the impurities like sludge and deposits are inside them. So, the change intervals are relatively short.
    For Example – The cars with conventional oils running in them need an oil change at regular intervals. In terms of miles, it would range from 3,000 to 5,000 miles which is 3 to 5x lower compared to synthetic oils.

Oil Change Prices

The oil price depends upon different factors such as the “Oil Change Intervals” as I have discussed above. But, aside from buying an oil bottle, the oil change prices according to the schedule for your car per year also matter in the longer run.

Synthetic Oil Change Prices

  • In that regard, synthetic oil prices are 2x that of conventional oils because of the added additives, refining procedures, and chemical cycles used to make it.
    For Example – The 5 Qz of synthetic oil can cost up to $45 to $60. While synthetic oil change prices up to $70 to $80.

Conventional Oil Change Prices

  • As for conventional oils, they are the cheapest as they are just made from crude oils, and have no refining procedures, chemical cycles, and additives in them.
    For Example – The same 5 Qz of conventional oil can cost up to $20 to $30. While conventional oil change prices up to $35 to $50.

Engine Type & Usage

One of the critical issues is the oil you’re gonna use is compatible with your car or not. Selecting the best synthetic oil for your car also relies on the age of your car. Because every car model or brand is specific and requires the specific grade oil to properly run.

Synthetic Oils

  • The synthetic oils in this matter lack behind. Because they are the types who came later in discovery after the conventional oils. So, most synthetic oils with their modern grading system are not compatible with old car engines.
    For Example – Older rotary and racecar engines are not compatible with today’s synthetic oils.

Conventional Oils

  • While conventional oils are the oldest of motor oils that are been used even in the oldest of engines. So, almost all of the conventional oils are compatible with these older engines.
    For Example – The same older rotary and racecar engines are compatible with conventional oils.

Synthetic Oil FAQs

Q: What color is synthetic oil?

Ans: A new and clean synthetic oil is translucent and has a lighter brown color just like a “toffee”. While a used-up synthetic oil has a darker brown or even black color just like tar.

Q: How long does synthetic oil last?

Ans: Due to the high refining process and added additives the synthetic oils last much longer than regular motor oils. It’s estimated that a full synthetic oil usually lasts from 10,000 to 15,000 miles. In terms of years, you only need to change the oil once a year.

Q: What are the advantages of synthetic oil?

Ans: Here are other advantages of synthetic oils:
1. Synthetic oils give better fuel and oil economy.
2. Grants quick easier engine starts in chilly winter.
3. The synthetics enhance your car’s engine start time.
4. With synthetics, you can easily predict the oil quality.
5. All types of cars get perks from the additives in synthetic oils.
6. You can switch back and forth from synthetic to conventional oils without any harm.
7. They give superior gas mileage and save your engine from extra damage costs (engine damage due to old oil).

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