Just as people age and need to change their dietary habits, cars also age and may perform better with a change to the engine oil you put it them. With many types of oil and brands available, it can sometimes be difficult to discern which one best suits your needs. In this article, we'll take a look at the different types of engine oil available at your local auto parts store or favorite oil change location. This way, you can make a more informed decision regarding the type of oil you need when it's time for your next oil change.
In short, motor oil can be classified into four categories:
- conventional oil
- synthetic oil
- synthetic blend
- high mileage oil
Let's take a closer look at each one.
Conventional Motor Oil
Conventional motor oil is the oil that is used in bulk at dealerships. It's also the most affordable option at your local auto parts store. Most adhere to American Petroleum Institute (API) and Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) standards, but they don't offer much in terms of any kind of anti-wear additives, such as corrosion inhibitors or seal conditioners, which can help keep your engine clean. Conventional motor oil is fine for drivers who commit to frequent oil change intervals and have low-mileage/well-driven engines.
Synthetic Motor Oil
If you are looking for top-level performance from a motor oil, synthetic motor oil fits the bill perfectly. Full synthetic oil delivers:
- higher motor oil viscosity levels
- resistance to oxidation
- resistance to thermal breakdown
- oil sludge protection
- improved fuel efficiency
- an increase in fuel efficiency (via engine drag reduction)
This overall increase in performance from a motor oil comes at a price. For full synthetic motor oil, that price is two-to-four times the price of conventional motor oil.
Aside from commuting and other day-to-day driving, you may also opt for full synthetic motor oil if you live in an area with temperature extremes that are marked by particularly hot or cold temperatures. If you are regularly towing or hauling a heavy load, synthetic oil may also be worth your consideration as those activities can increase engine wear. The sludge fighting properties of synthetic oil make it a popular option with drivers of older vehicles, as well.
Synthetic Blend Motor Oil
As you might intuit from the name, synthetic blend motor oil is just what it sounds like: a combination of conventional oil and synthetic oil (with some additives in the mix). If you are considering making a move from conventional motor oil to full synthetic motor oil, a synthetic blend oil is a good bridge. It offers some of the benefits of a full synthetic motor oil without the same price tag.
High-Mileage Motor Oil
If you have more than 75,000 miles on your vehicle, a high-mileage oil is an option worth exploring. High-mileage oil features a select additive package of anti-wear agents and is specifically formulated to help to reduce oil consumption and prevent oil leaks that are more common in older engines with a lot of miles.
Motor oil is the lifeblood of your engine. As your engine ages, you may want to consider the oil you put in it. Knowing a little more about conventional, synthetic, synthetic blend, and high-mileage motor oils can help any vehicle owner make the best decisions at the next scheduled oil change.