Synthetic engine oil has been in the market for a long time now. But a lot of people don’t believe that synthetic oil is better, believing that synthetic engine oil is only good for high-end vehicles.
In fact, synthetic engine oil is beneficial to all types of cars, though some high-end vehicle manufacturers specifically state that only synthetic oil can be used in their engines, at the risk of damaging more delicate components.
Most people are likely put off synthetic due to the considerable price difference. 4 liters of conventional (aka mineral) oil might cost you around RM 68, while the same amount of fully synthetic oil is priced at RM 228.
While it’s true that you can get by with conventional oil, synthetic oil really does offer a lot of benefits:
Engine oil mainly functions as a lubricant, a liquid that reduces friction and wear between moving parts within the engine. It also functions as an internal cleaner, collecting and holding debris until it can be deposited in the oil filter, and it neutralizes acids and moisture created by combustion. Lastly, it offers protection against oxidation, especially when the engine sits for an extended period.
So it stands to reason that the higher quality your engine oil is, the more effectively it will do all these things. Conventional oil is considered the bottom-most tier when it comes to engine oil, as it contains very few of the helpful additives and detergents that come standard in fully synthetic oil.
This means it might do okay as a lubricant, but it won’t really help with all the other things, and will likely build up sludge faster than synthetic.
The oil in the above experiment by Engineering Explained was cooled to -35°F (-37°C) before testing their respective flow rates. As you can see, synthetic oil flowed really well even when subjected to sub-zero temperatures, compared to conventional oil, which turned extremely thick.
Even though you won’t find the same sub-zero conditions in Malaysia as you would in winter countries, the oil in your engine upon start-up after being left sitting overnight will definitely be below standard operating temperature. This is what we in the automotive industry call a cold start.
Having a good flow rate means you don’t need to leave your engine to warm-up for as long as 5 mins. Just a minute or so is enough for most modern cars to get the oil flowing to where it needs to be; operating temperature will be reached when you’re actually driving.
Having a good fluidity during a cold start is important as it means your engine isn’t left to run with essentially no oil while your oil is getting up to temperature. Having a good viscosity also means better protection at high temperatures, which is definitely something we do have in Malaysia.
It’s normal to find a little oil sludge in your engine. Both conventional and synthetic oil will produce sludge. It is produced when oil is at a temperature lower than 100 degrees celsius, and when there is water in the crankcase, so it’s pretty much unavoidable — the difference lies in how much is produced.
Oil sludge is gelled and solidified oil mixed with impurities such as dirt and metal particles. It will not only impede the flow of oil, it will increase wear of parts and make your oil pump work harder, which will strain it and might cause damage. So you really want as little oil sludge in your engine as possible until it can be drained out with your next oil change.
Part of what causes oil sludge in conventional oil is that it breaks down at high temperatures, where it oxidises and develops deposits. This is not a problem synthetic oil has — it will maintain viscosity and protection even at high temperatures, drastically reducing sludge formation.
The reasoning behind this is pretty simple — the better lubricated your engine, the easier it will run. Using a high quality synthetic oil will let you get the maximum horsepower from your engine. Having good flow is important, as your vehicle will spend less energy circulating it through the filter and around the engine, which means more energy moving forward.
Synthetic also clings better to the bearings and cylinder walls of your engine, which protects them from damage, especially during startup. It also means instantaneous lubrication and decreased drag when you run your engine, which gives you more torque and better acceleration.
So far, no one has done a proper scientific experiment to determine exactly how much oil quality affects fuel economy. But pretty much everyone who’s tried switching from conventional to a good quality synthetic will attest that they’ve seen improvement in how often they need to fill-up.
Part of the reason for this is synthetic oil’s resistance to developing sludge, which we’ve already determined isn’t good for the engine. Sludgy oil loses its lubricating capabilities, besides blocking pathways and reducing oil flow efficiency. This makes your engine work harder and produce more heat, which reduces efficiency and causes damage.
High quality oil helps your gas go further by reducing drag, so you get a quieter, more efficient engine. The oil’s excellent flow will let it get to all the parts that need lubrication, protecting and cooling them, while detergents in the oil will help clean it of unwanted particles, preventing engine wear.
Of course, even the highest quality synthetic oils need to be changed regularly for them to continue working as they should. However, synthetic oil generally has a longer change interval than conventional, so you can enjoy some added value in addition to all these benefits when you switch to synthetic. If the price of fully synthetic is too steep, you can choose to go for semi-synthetic as the mid-range option.
You can see the effects of high quality engine oil yourself by booking a mobile engine oil change via Maxx ‘N Go that gives you maximum convenience at amazing value. Need more convincing? You can listen to our customer testimonials here.
The Maxx ‘N Go Service Center is also open to take care of all your major service needs — replacing air filters, spark plugs and more.