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Home » Articles » Maintenance » Fuels, Gasoline, Additives and Fluids » Oil 101
Simple Solutions When Choosing The Right Oil For Your Vehicle
Many people don’t know how to select motor oil that will help them get optimum performance out of their car. People often just select the oil their father used, or they may take the suggestion of a counter person at an auto parts store who may not know any more about cars than they do.
There are meaningful differences in motor oils and choosing the right one can have a major impact on how well your car runs. Selecting the right oil is often the quickest and cheapest way to improve your car’s performance and reliability. Two components determine how well motor oil will perform in your car. One factor is the base oil, and the other is the combination of chemicals (additives) that are added to the base oil.
The two primary types of base oils used are mineral and synthetic. Mineral oils are by-products of refined crude oil. Refining helps reduces the impurities but leaves molecules of all shapes and sizes. Synthetic oils are manmade compounds whose molecules are all the same size and shape; consequently, synthetic oil has a less friction and performs significantly better than mineral oils.
What to Choose
The easiest way to select motor oil is to follow the good, better best model:
GOOD �' Mineral-based (regular) motor oils. These are the cheapest and most widely available oils. They typically use standard additive packages that provide minimum levels of performance and protection.
BETTER �' Synthetic motor oils. These man-made oils are more expensive than mineral-based oils but are still widely available. Their performance advantages come predominantly from the synthetic base oil used. They have a longer service life and offer some improvements in protection.
BEST �' High-performance synthetic motor oils. These motor oils are the most technologically advanced oils. Although they significantly outperform mineral based or synthetic motor oils, they are about the same price as standard synthetic motor oil. They are typically only available through auto parts stores and select oil change centers. These oils primarily differ in their uses of more advanced, proprietary additive technologies.
Regardless of the base oil used, chemicals must be added to give motor oil the characteristics needed to do its job. Typical additives that may be added to base oil include detergents to reduce the formation of residue, defoamants, to deter absorption of air, anti-wear agents, antioxidants and others.
Although additives are typically only 15 to 25 percent of the make up of motor oil, they can impact a lubricant’s performance much more than the base oil. For instance, mineral based motor oil with a very good additive package can easily outperform synthetic motor oil with a mediocre additive package.
There is no easy way for a consumer to...