The Difference Between Synthetic & Mineral Oil

Engine oils come in various forms. If you own a combustion engine powered vehicle, you would have most likely had the experience of needing to service its engine oil. Be it at a service center or by yourself at home with a set of tools, an engine oil service requires an appropriate engine oil that comes in two forms; Mineral and Synthetic.

Choosing between the aforementioned engine oil types may be a daunting task especially when you’re standing in front of a row of numbers and bottles. So let’s break down the differences. Mineral oil is derived from refined crude petroleum. It carries little to sometimes no additives and is most commonly used on older engines. Mineral oils are the cheapest engine oils you can buy and have to be changed more frequently. This is due to the fact that it flows slower than synthetic oils, causing more fuel consumption. This is however not a sign that mineral oils are bad. Mineral oils provide excellent engine lubrication, ensuring that the engine stays safe internally and is able to perform at its optimum. 

Synthetic engine oils begin life from crude petroleum and undergo a far more intense modification process. This process will be a chemical transformation of the oil to remove as many impurities as possible and to input formulated additives to improve the chemical structure and effectiveness of the oil. The advantages of having more additives are better protection against wear, corrosion, oxidation and to provide superior lubrication. The advantages it offers comes at a higher cost than mineral oils but it has a longer oil change interval as well. 

Synthetic oils can be split into Fully and Semi synthetic. Fully synthetic uses 100% synthetic oil while semi mixes synthetic and mineral oil to create a blend. Semi synthetic engine oil is in the middle of mineral and fully synthetic oil in terms of price, performance & interval change. 

Engine oils have evolved and come a long way. Manufacturers are continuously expanding and developing newer improved engine oils that allow for fewer carbon emissions, longer lifespan and better performance. As a user, the key factor to remember is that not all engine oils work for all engines. Take note of which engine oil is best suited for your engine and keep it healthy.