6 Best Synthetic Oils | April 2017

We spent 34 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top options for this wiki. Engine lubrication is one of the few areas where, according to experts, a synthetic product is better than a natural one. Switching to one of these at your next oil change is a cost effective and easy way to prevent wear and tear on your engine. Find the right brand for your motor from our comprehensive selection. Skip to the best synthetic oil on Amazon.
6 Best Synthetic Oils | April 2017
Overall Rank: 5
Best Mid-Range
★★★
Overall Rank: 4
Best High-End
★★★★
Overall Rank: 1
Best Inexpensive
★★★★★
6
Prevent potential engine sludge before it forms, and attack those established, stubborn deposits while keeping your vital engine parts clean with the affordable Pennzoil 550038321 Platinum. This is an established brand, with an extensive history in motor lubricants.
  • better for severe conditions
  • exceeds manufacturer requirements
  • could be overkill for some drivers
Brand Pennzoil
Model 550038321
Weight 9.2 pounds
Rating 4.0 / 5.0
5
No special procedures are necessary when switching to Royal Purple 51530. Leaving conventional lubricants behind is as simple as refilling your engine with this at your next oil change. This respected product can also increase fuel efficiency.
  • works well with older automobiles
  • compatible with ethanol fuels
  • more expensive than many brands
Brand Royal Purple
Model ROY51530
Weight 9.4 pounds
Rating 3.8 / 5.0
4
Pennzoil 550040865-6PK uses a revolutionary process that changes pure natural gas into high quality, synthetic base lubricant. By boosting fuel efficiency, this formula can grant you an average of 550 additional driving miles each year.
  • reduces effort engine expends to run
  • works well even down to -40 degrees
  • protects against loss of power
Brand Pennzoil
Model 550040865-6PK
Weight 11.6 pounds
Rating 4.0 / 5.0
3
Easily handle the ever-changing driving environment your engine faces with Castrol 03101 EDGE. It responds well to differing demands, like changes in pressure and temperature, making it a great choice for use during road trips.
  • much higher rated than basic oils
  • formula reduces volatility
  • meets standards of myriad automakers
Brand Castrol
Model 3101
Weight 9.1 pounds
Rating 3.8 / 5.0
2
The MAG1 61790-pk6 Full Synthetic reduces engine wear by 56 percent versus standard lubricants, at a price that competitors struggle to match. It also offers additional resistance to cold start friction, making it a wise choice for cooler climates.
  • can improve fuel efficiency
  • highly rated by users
  • leading oem viscosity grade
Brand Mag 1
Model 61790-pk6
Weight 11.9 pounds
Rating 4.6 / 5.0
1
Mobil 1 Extended Performance keeps your vehicle alive and well by protecting critical parts for up to 15,000 miles between changes. This is a quality choice for the driver who is prone to forgetting to make that trip to the local service station.
  • includes performance additives
  • exceptional breakdown control
  • compatible with all engine seals
Brand Mobil 1
Model 120766
Weight 9.3 pounds
Rating 4.7 / 5.0

Buyer's Guide

Why Oil Is So Important

Oil is the lifeblood of an engine and without it, your engine would overheat, wear down, and destroy itself in a very short period of time. There are three vital functions oil performs inside of an engine to keep it running smoothly for years: lubrication, cooling, and removal of contaminants.

Inside on an engine are many moving metal parts that are operating within millimeters of each other. If these metal parts were to touch, they would cause significant damage to each other. Without thin molecules of oil separating the parts, lubricating them, and reducing friction, several things can happen. The metal parts may heat up and distort, causing them to bang against each other. Metal shavings from one may rub off onto another in a process called galling. The piston could even get stuck in the cylinder bore, causing the engine to freeze up. All of these things can lead to permanent engine failure.

Internal combustion engines make use of thousands of controlled detonations every minute. This creates the force needed to move the engine components and propel your car forward. These detonations can cause a significant buildup of heat. As oil travels through your engine, it draws heat away from the combustion chamber and allows it to dissipate in the oil pan. This helps to keep your engine from overheating.

As an engine runs, it creates contaminants. These can be bits of metal that result from wear on the metal parts or a buildup of carbon as a byproduct of the combustion. Motor oil not only carries these contaminants away as it travels though the system and deposits them in the oil filter, but it also contains a number of additives to prevent them. Common motor oils contain additives such as rust inhibitors, detergents, and dispersants.

What Is Synthetic Motor Oil And How Is It Made?

Synthetic oil is a lubricant that is used as a substitute for petroleum-refined oils. Unlike standard motor oils, it is not distilled from crude oil. Instead, it is made from materials like carbon dioxide, methane, and carbon monoxide through a chemical process known as the Fischer-Tropsch process. This results in a cleaner oil, which has more uniform hydrocarbon molecules. It also doesn't contain any of the unnecessary compounds found in crude-based oils, like paraffin wax. All of this makes synthetic oil better for extreme temperatures applications.

There are two types of synthetic oil: full-synthetics and semi-synthetics. Full-synthetic oils can be derived from crude oil or from other chemical compounds. If it is derived from crude oil, it is done with the aforementioned Fischer-Tropsch process instead of the traditional distilling method. This results in an oil with more uniform properties that is better suited to the mechanical applications it is designed for.

Semi-synthetic oils are a combination of traditional mineral motor oils and synthetic oils. This special blend of oils results in a motor oil that does a better job of protecting an engine, as can be expected from full-synthetics, but at a lower cost. The first semi-synthetic motor oil was introduced in 1966 by Motul. They also released Century 300V, which was the first 100% synthetic lubricant created for cars.

Benefits Of Synthetic Motor Oil

Because synthetic motor oils are created rather than distilled, they can tailored to the demands of modern car engines. Customized oil molecules with less useless impurities results in a higher quality lubricant that easily out performs its mineral-based counterpart. Synthetic oil's ability to deal with the extreme conditions encountered in internal combustion engines shows itself in a number of ways. It is easier to pump at low temperatures, which is extremely important as this means it can fully circulate through an engine quicker on startup. The quicker an oil circulates through an engine when started, the less time the internal components are moving without lubrication. This equates to less engine wear and a longer engine life.

In addition to performing better when an engine is first started, they also perform better at higher temperatures because they are less volatile. Fluctuating temperatures have less effect on a synthetic oil's viscosity as they do on mineral-based oils.

Synthetic oils have less impurities than standard motor oil, which forms large amounts of sludge as it breaks down. This sludge decreases an engine's efficiency. With less impurities and a consistent molecular structure, synthetic oil can better resist oxidation and will produce fewer deposits.

If you are an eco-friendly consumer, you'll appreciate that synthetic oils are better for the environment. Unlike traditional motor oils, they don't need to be drained and recycled every 3,000 miles. Instead, they are designed to be changed anywhere from 7,000 to 15,000 miles, depending on the oil. This is better for the environment, and will save you from running to the mechanic every couple of months.



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Last updated on April 24 2017 by Johnny Woodard

Johnny Woodard fled the sweltering South and a career in journalism to pursue comedy and edit a popular comedy/sports website in Los Angeles.