Car Oil Guide: Mineral Oil vs Synthetic Oil

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  • Jun 27, 2014
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Is synthetic engine oil more beneficial than mineral engine oil?


mineral oil vs synthetic oil

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Is synthetic engine oil better than mineral engine oils? There’s always a dilemma about choosing the right engine oil for your car. Aside from the grades, there’s also Mineral and Synthetic to add to the confusion. Every engine oil manufacturer claims that synthetic oils enhance performance, mileage and engine life but on the flip side, these oils come at a premium price. Does it make sense to go in for these expensive oils when it is not really recommended by a car manufacturer?


Mineral engine oil

Almost entirely natural, mineral engine oil is a derivative of the crude oil refining process. While the thicker by-products that are derived after the refining process are used as tar; the carbon-rich substances are further refined to make petrol and diesel and the remaining crude oil that is contaminated with sulphur and other impurities is used as base for making mineral oil. 



• Mineral Oil helps lubricate moving parts in the engine, as per the level of refinement and holds the capacity to perform well in varied conditions. 

• Are cheaper compared to semi-synthetic or synthetic oils



• The simple way in which they are extracted or produced as opposed to synthetic oils makes it unstable and increasingly prone to loss of viscosity. 

• They hold some contaminants that are prone to sludge formation which can be dangerous for your engine in the long run in case it isn’t changed on regular intervals. 


Synthetic engine oils

Synthetic oils, despite being based on conventional mineral oils, go through extensive refining in the presence of chemicals that make them more viscous making it well suited for high performance engines. 



• Owing to the higher viscosity, it is easier for synthetic oils to handle changes in temperatures and engine load.  

• Addition of chemicals reduces sludge formation

• As the oil is resistant to sludge formation for longer period, the oil change interval is longer



• The high cost involved in research and its production has a direct effect on retail cost.

• Affects the rubber seals and causes oil leaks, hence not recommended on high-mileage engines. 

• Not significantly effective on low performance engines, especially with respect to price


While mineral oils can face the stresses of daily driving easily ensuring that your engine runs smoothly and efficiently, synthetic engine oils can take an actual beating without a fuss. If you use your car for off-roading, drive for prolonged durations at high speeds or put it through extreme temperature changes, only then synthetic oil is recommended. It is not recommended that you use these oils if your car is not being driven in extreme temperature changing conditions, is not driven in high-altitude locations and is not equipped with a high-performance engine. Contrary to common belief, synthetic oil doesn’t necessarily put a dent in your pocket. It is known to last nearly 50-70 per cent longer than mineral oil which ultimately leads to savings in the long run. On the whole, synthetic engine oil is definitely better.

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