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How to Chose Right Engine Oil for Optimal Engine Performance

Rahmi Doğucan E.
June 05, 2023

A car's engine isn't an easy piece of machinery, and it relies on various components working in harmony to ensure optimal performance. Among these crucial components, right engine oil plays a key role in keeping the engine running smoothly and efficiently. We will explore the importance of engine oil and jump into the different types of engine oil available in the market, shedding light on their significance and how they impact the overall performance of an engine.

old motor oil on shelf

The Importance of Motor Oil

Engine oil is often seen as the blood of an engine and for a good reason. Its primary function is to lubricate the engine's moving parts, reducing friction and preventing wear and tear. As the engine operates, these parts rub against each other at high speeds, generating considerable heat and potentially causing damage. Motor oil forms a protective layer between these metal surfaces, allowing them to glide smoothly, reducing friction, and minimizing the risk of overheating or premature wear.

car engine where the oil goes in

Motor oil also keeps the engine clean by trapping dirt, debris, and other contaminants that may enter the engine. It acts as a cleaning agent, preventing harmful particles from accumulating and causing blockages in the engine's vital passageways. Additionally, right engine oil plays a role in sealing gaps between various engine components, maintaining optimal compression, and preventing leaks.

Different Car Oil Types and Their Significance

Not all oils are equal, and different types of car oil are formulated to meet specific engine requirements. Understanding the various oil types and their significance can help car owners make informed decisions when it is about picking the right oil for their vehicles.

  1. Conventional Motor Oil: Conventional motor oil, also known as mineral oil, comes from crude oil through a refining process. It provides essential lubrication and protection to the engine but generally requires more frequent oil changes due to its lower resistance to heat and degradation.
  2. Synthetic Motor Oil: Synthetic motor oil is engineered in a laboratory and offers enhanced performance and protection compared to conventional oil. It undergoes a highly controlled manufacturing process, resulting in a more consistent and durable product. Synthetic oil exhibits superior resistance to heat, oxidation, and viscosity breakdown, allowing for extended oil change intervals and providing better engine protection under extreme conditions.
  3. High-Mileage Motor Oil: Designed specifically for vehicles with higher mileage, high-mileage motor oil contains additives that help reduce oil consumption, minimize leaks, and condition aging engine seals. It provides additional protection to older engines, aiding in the prevention of oil leaks and reducing the impact of common engine issues associated with higher mileage vehicles.
  4. Synthetic Blend Motor Oil: A blend of synthetic and conventional motor oils, synthetic blend oil combines the benefits of both types. It offers enhanced performance and protection over conventional oil while still being more cost-effective than full synthetic oil. Synthetic blend oil is often recommended for vehicles that undergo moderate to heavy-duty use, striking a balance between performance and affordability.

synthetic blend motor oil

Next, we will explore each car oil type in greater detail, discussing its pros and cons, recommended applications, and guidelines for selecting the appropriate oil for your car.

Conventional Oil

Definition and Composition of Conventional Oil

Conventional oil is the traditional and most commonly used type of motor oil. Conventional oil consists of base oil obtained from crude oil, along with various additives that enhance its performance and protective properties. The refining process removes impurities and adjusts the oil's viscosity to meet industry standards.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Using Conventional Oil

Advantages of Conventional Oil:

  1. Cost-Effective: Conventional oil is generally less expensive compared to synthetic oils, making it a budget-friendly option for regular oil changes.
  2. Widely Available: Conventional oil is readily available at automotive stores, service centers, and even gas stations, making it easily accessible for vehicle owners.
  3. Compatibility: It is compatible with most older car engines that were designed to use conventional oil, making it a suitable choice for vehicles that do not require specialized oils.

Disadvantages of Conventional Oil:

  1. Lower Performance: Conventional oil typically offers lower performance compared to synthetic oils, especially in extreme temperatures and high-stress conditions. It may lack some aspects of engine protection and efficiency.
  2. Shorter Change Intervals: Due to its lower resistance to heat and degradation, conventional oil usually requires more frequent oil changes compared to synthetic oils. This can increase maintenance costs and the time spent on regular oil changes.
  3. Limited Applications: Conventional oil may not be suitable for certain high-performance, turbocharged, or newer vehicle models that require specific oil formulations.

Recommended Applications and Considerations for its Usage

Conventional oil is suitable for many everyday vehicles and driving conditions. Here are some recommended applications and considerations for using conventional oil:

  1. Older Vehicles: Conventional oil is often recommended for older vehicles with engines that were designed to use it. These engines may not have the advanced technologies or tighter tolerances that require the benefits of synthetic oils.
  2. Light Driving Conditions: If you primarily drive in normal conditions, such as regular commuting or occasional city driving, conventional oil can provide sufficient lubrication and protection for your engine.
  3. Regular Maintenance: Using conventional oil may require adhering to more frequent oil change intervals as recommended by the vehicle manufacturer. Regular maintenance is crucial to ensure the engine remains adequately lubricated and protected.
  4. Cost Considerations: If you have budget constraints or prefer a more economical option, conventional oil can be a practical choice without compromising the basic lubrication needs of your engine.

It's important to consult your vehicle's owner's manual or seek advice from a trusted mechanic to determine the recommended oil type for your specific vehicle model and driving conditions. This will help ensure optimal engine performance and longevity.

Synthetic Oil

Definition and Manufacturing Process of Synthetic Oil

Synthetic oil is a lubricant that is artificially engineered in a laboratory rather than being derived from crude oil like conventional oil. Created through a complex manufacturing process known as chemical synthesis. 

sythetic motor oil

Synthetic oil starts with a base oil, which can be made from various compounds such as polyalphaolefins (PAOs), esters, or a combination of both. These base oils undergo precise refining and molecular engineering to create a highly uniform and consistent oil with specific desired properties.

Benefits and Advantages of Synthetic Oil over Conventional Oil

Synthetic oil offers many advantages over conventional oil, making it a good choice among car owners:

  1. Improved Engine Performance: Synthetic oil provides better lubrication and reduces friction between moving parts, resulting in improved engine performance. It flows more smoothly at low temperatures, ensuring easier cold starts and reducing wear on critical engine components.
  2. Enhanced Engine Protection: The precisely engineered composition of synthetic oil provides superior protection against heat, oxidation, and sludge formation. It maintains its stability and viscosity over a wide range of temperatures, offering excellent protection even in extreme heat or cold conditions.
  3. Extended Oil Change Intervals: Synthetic oil typically has a longer lifespan compared to conventional oil. Its advanced formulation resists degradation and maintains its protective properties for an extended period. This allows for longer intervals between oil changes, saving time and reducing overall maintenance costs.
  4. Fuel Efficiency: Synthetic oil's reduced friction and improved lubrication can lead to better fuel efficiency. The smoother operation of engine components helps optimize fuel combustion, resulting in improved mileage and reduced fuel consumption.

Suitable Applications and Considerations for Using Synthetic Oil

Synthetic oil is well-suited for various applications, including:

  1. High-Performance and Turbocharged Engines: Engines with high power output or forced induction systems benefit from the superior protection and thermal stability of synthetic oil. It can handle the increased heat and stress associated with high-performance driving.
  2. Extreme Temperatures: Synthetic oil performs exceptionally well in both extreme cold and hot temperatures. It maintains its viscosity and fluidity, ensuring adequate lubrication and protection in harsh weather conditions.
  3. Modern Vehicles: Many newer vehicle models are designed to optimize performance with synthetic oil. If your vehicle's manufacturer recommends or requires synthetic oil, it's crucial to follow their guidelines to maintain warranty coverage and ensure optimal engine performance.
  4. Long-Term Engine Care: If you plan to keep your vehicle for an extended period or want to maximize engine life, synthetic oil is an excellent choice. Its superior protection helps reduce engine wear, prolonging the lifespan of critical components.

While synthetic oil offers numerous benefits, it's essential to consider factors such as cost and compatibility with your vehicle's specifications. Synthetic oil is usually more expensive, but the extended oil change intervals and potential long-term savings can offset the initial cost.

man closing the oil drain

Always refer to your vehicle's owner's manual or consult with a mechanic to determine the appropriate synthetic oil type and viscosity grade recommended for your specific vehicle.

Synthetic Blend Oil

Explanation of Synthetic Blend Oil and its Composition

Synthetic blend oil is a combo of synthetic and conventional oil. It blends high-quality synthetic base oils with a portion of conventional mineral oil, resulting in a hybrid oil formulation. The specific ratio of synthetic to conventional oil can vary.

Advantages and Use Cases of Synthetic Blend Oil

Synthetic blend oil offers a balance between the benefits of synthetic oil and the affordability of conventional oil. Here are some advantages and use cases of synthetic blend oil:

  1. Enhanced Performance: Synthetic blend oil provides improved performance compared to conventional oil. The synthetic base oils contribute to better engine protection, reduced friction, and improved lubrication. This can lead to smoother engine operation and enhanced performance under various driving conditions.
  2. Cost-Effectiveness: Synthetic blend oil is typically more affordable than full synthetic oil. It offers a cost-effective option for those seeking better performance and engine protection without the higher price tag associated with full synthetic oil.
  3. Versatility: Synthetic blend oil can be suitable for a wide range of vehicles and driving conditions. It is often recommended for vehicles that undergo moderate to heavy-duty use, such as towing or stop-and-go city driving. Its a balance between performance and cost, making it a versatile choice for many car owners.

Comparison between Synthetic Blend Oil, Conventional Oil, and Synthetic Oil

To better understand the differences, here's a comparison between synthetic blend oil, conventional oil, and synthetic oil:

  • Performance and Protection:
    • Conventional oil: Provides basic engine protection but may have limitations under extreme conditions.
    • Synthetic blend oil: Offers better performance and protection compared to conventional oil, but not as advanced as full synthetic oil.
    • Synthetic oil: Provides superior performance and enhanced engine protection, especially in extreme temperatures and high-stress conditions.
  • Price:
    • Conventional oil: Typically the most affordable option.
    • Synthetic blend oil: More expensive than conventional oil but less costly than full synthetic oil.
    • Synthetic oil: Generally the most expensive option.
  • Recommended Applications:
    • Conventional oil: Suitable for older vehicles and regular driving conditions.
    • Synthetic blend oil: Ideal for vehicles with moderate to heavy-duty use, offering a balance between performance and cost.
    • Synthetic oil: Recommended for high-performance engines, extreme driving conditions, and newer vehicles with specific oil requirements.

    High Mileage Oil

    Definition and Purpose of High Mileage Oil

    High mileage oil is specifically formulated for vehicles with higher mileage, typically those that have accumulated over 75,000 miles or more. The primary purpose of high mileage oil is to address the specific needs and challenges that arise in older engines.

    high mileage oil being poured in

    It contains additives designed to condition and protect aging engine components, providing enhanced lubrication and minimizing potential issues associated with higher mileage vehicles.

    Benefits of Using High Mileage Oil in Older Vehicles

    Using high mileage oil in older vehicles can offer these benefits:

    1. Reduced Oil Consumption: High mileage oil is formulated with seal conditioners that help prevent or reduce oil leaks and consumption. This can be particularly beneficial in older engines with worn seals and gaskets, helping to maintain proper oil levels and minimize the need for frequent top-ups.
    2. Minimized Engine Wear: The additives in high mileage oil are specifically designed to reduce friction and minimize wear on aging engine parts. This can help extend the life of critical components such as piston rings, camshafts, and lifters, promoting smoother engine operation and reducing the risk of premature failure.

    High mileage oil contains detergents and dispersants that help keep the engine clean and prevent the buildup of sludge and deposits. This is important in older engines that may be more prone to these issues due to accumulated contaminants over time. A cleaner engine can result in better overall performance and improved fuel efficiency.

    As engines age, seals and gaskets can become brittle and start to deteriorate, leading to leaks. High mileage oil includes additives that can help rejuvenate and condition these seals, reducing the likelihood of leaks and maintaining proper engine compression.

    Considerations and Usage Guidelines for High Mileage Oil

    When using high mileage oil, consider the following guidelines:

    1. Consult Your Vehicle's Manual: Check your vehicle's owner's manual or consult with a qualified mechanic to determine if high mileage oil is recommended for your specific vehicle. Some engines may benefit from high mileage oil earlier in their lifespan, while others may not require it until higher mileage thresholds.
    2. Choose the Right Viscosity: Select the viscosity grade recommended by your vehicle's manufacturer. The viscosity requirements may vary based on the engine design and operating conditions. It's crucial to use the appropriate viscosity to ensure optimal engine performance and protection.

    While high mileage oil can provide added protection, it's important to adhere to regular maintenance schedules. This includes following the recommended oil change intervals, inspecting and replacing other engine fluids as needed, and addressing any specific issues identified by your mechanic.

    Choose high-quality high mileage oils from reputable brands to ensure that you're getting a reliable product with the necessary additives for optimal engine protection. Look for oils that meet industry standards and certifications.

    By using high mileage oil, you can help prolong the life of your older vehicle's engine, mitigate potential issues associated with higher mileage, and improve overall performance

    Racing Oil

    Introduction to Racing Oil and its Specialized Properties

    Racing oil is a type of car engine oil formulated for high-performance racing engines. It is designed to withstand extreme operating conditions, including high RPMs, intense heat, and heavy loads. Racing oil possesses specialized properties that differentiate it from regular motor oil, making it suitable for the demanding requirements of racing applications.

    man pouring engine oil

    Racing oil often features the following properties:

    1. High Viscosity Index: Racing oil maintains its viscosity across a wide range of temperatures, ensuring optimal lubrication and protection in both high-temperature and low-temperature conditions.
    2. Enhanced Film Strength: It forms a stronger lubricating film on engine parts, even under extreme loads and high RPMs. This helps reduce friction, prevent metal-to-metal contact, and minimize wear on critical engine components.
    3. Thermal Stability: Racing oil exhibits exceptional resistance to thermal breakdown, preventing oil degradation and maintaining its protective properties at elevated temperatures.

    Racing oil contains specialized additives, such as friction modifiers and anti-foaming agents, to further enhance its performance and provide maximum protection under racing conditions.

    Why Racing Oil is Not Suitable for Regular Street Use

    Racing oil, despite its high-performance properties, is not suitable for regular street use due to the following reasons:

  • Racing oil is specifically designed for racing engines with unique requirements, such as high-performance race cars or motorcycles. 
  • May not be coherent with the design and specifications of regular street vehicles, including everyday commuter cars or family sedans.
  • Reduced Engine Protection at Lower RPMs: Racing oil is formulated to perform optimally at high RPMs and under extreme racing conditions. 
  • During typical street driving, where engines operate at lower RPM ranges, the high-viscosity nature of racing oil may impede proper lubrication and potentially lead to engine damage or increased wear.
  • Racing oil may have lower levels of detergents and dispersants compared to regular motor oil. This is because racing engines undergo frequent rebuilds and maintenance, requiring less focus on long-term engine cleanliness. Regular street engines, on the other hand, benefit from the detergents and dispersants present in motor oil to maintain engine cleanliness and prevent sludge buildup.

    Target Audience and Specific Applications of Racing Oil

    The target audience for racing oil includes professional racers, amateur racing enthusiasts, and individuals with high-performance race vehicles. Racing oil is used in various motorsports disciplines, such as Formula 1, NASCAR, drag racing, and motorcycle racing. It is specifically formulated for racing engines that demand maximum performance and protection under extreme operating conditions.

    Specific applications of racing oil include:

    • Racing Events: Racing oil is the oil of choice for competitive racing events, providing the necessary lubrication and protection for high-performance engines during intense racing sessions.
    • Track Days and Performance Driving: Enthusiasts participating in track days or engaging in spirited performance driving may choose racing oil to ensure their engines receive optimal protection during high-speed and high-stress situations.

    It's important to note that for regular street use, it is recommended to follow the vehicle manufacturer's specifications and use motor oil that is specifically designed for daily driving conditions, providing the necessary protection and meeting the recommended viscosity grade.

    Choosing the Right Oil for Your Car

    Factors to Consider when Selecting the Appropriate Oil Type

    illustration of motor oil on gears

    When selecting the right oil for your car, consider the following factors:

    1. Vehicle Manufacturer's Recommendations: Check your vehicle's owner's manual or consult with the manufacturer about the recommended oil type, viscosity grade, and any specific requirements. Following these guidelines ensures compatibility and optimal performance.
    2. Driving Conditions: Consider the typical driving conditions your vehicle encounters. If you frequently drive in extreme temperatures, such as very hot or cold climates, choosing an oil with the appropriate viscosity grade and temperature range is important for reliable performance.
    3. Age and Mileage of the Vehicle: Older vehicles or those with high mileage may benefit from high-mileage oil, as it provides additional protection and conditioning for aging engine components. However, always check the manufacturer's recommendations.
    4. Performance Needs: If you have a high-performance vehicle or engage in demanding driving activities, such as towing or aggressive driving, considering synthetic or synthetic blend oils can offer enhanced protection and performance benefits.

    General Guidelines for Making an Informed Decision on Car Oil

    To make the right call when choosing the right oil for your car, follow these general guidelines:

    1. Follow Manufacturer Recommendations: Always prioritize the vehicle manufacturer's recommendations to ensure compatibility and warranty compliance.
    2. Understand Oil Viscosity: Pay attention to the viscosity grade recommended for your vehicle. It determines the oil's flow characteristics and its ability to provide proper lubrication at different temperatures.
    3. Quality and Certification: Choose high-quality oils from reputable brands that meet industry standards and certifications. This ensures you're getting a reliable product with the necessary additives and performance properties.
    4. Regular Oil Maintenance: Regardless of the oil type, maintaining a regular oil change schedule is crucial for engine health and longevity. Follow the recommended oil change intervals provided by the vehicle manufacturer.

    What happens after oil change?

    Understanding the different car oil types is one good start for maintaining the health and performance of your vehicle's engine. Conventional oil, synthetic oil, synthetic blend oil, high mileage oil, and racing oil each have their unique properties and recommended applications.

    man checking the engine oil levels

    Regular oil maintenance, along with other crucial vehicle maintenance tasks, helps extend the life of your engine and improve overall performance.

    Additionally, consider optimizing your driving experience with accessories like Pedal Commander. Pedal Commander can enhance throttle response, providing a more engaging and responsive driving experience. Combine regular oil maintenance with performance enhancements like Pedal Commander to enjoy the full potential of your vehicle.

    How to Chose Right Engine Oil for Optimal Engine Performance