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Which is better for My Car Engine: Synthetic or Mineral Oil?

A good engine oil lubricates the engine’s moving parts, decreases friction and prevents corrosion. However, engine oils come in two different types: synthetic and mineral. Which one should you choose?

Should someone who is using mineral oil change to synthetic oil? Or vice versa? Thankfully, the choice becomes clear once you understand certain very basic differences.

Mineral oil vs synthetic oil for cars

The ‘synthetic oil vs mineral oil’ debate has been going on for some time. The truth is that mineral oils were the ones that were first produced for cars.

‘Synthetic’ oils, as the name itself suggests, involve more artificial processes in their creation. This was only possible much later thanks to the development of new technologies.

So, from a time perspective, synthetic oils for cars are the newer developments. Going by the concept of ‘newer is better’, synthetic oils obviously have more benefits for your car engine than mineral oils.

But why is this the case? To understand this, we have to dig a little deeper.

How are mineral oils produced?

Mineral oils are made by directly refining crude petroleum. The refining process removes many of the contaminants, unwanted hydrocarbons and impurities.

As we mentioned before, this is how engine oils were produced since the early years of automobiles. That’s why mineral oils are better suited to older models of vehicles that were not made with modern technology in mind. In fact, synthetic oils may not even work properly if you introduce them into an engine not build with them in mind. Mineral oils, due to their method of production, are also the lower-cost option when it comes to engine oils. That’s why they may be preferred for fleets or other types of large transport where volume matters more than quality.

Do mineral oils have any disadvantages?

Compared to synthetic variants, the answer is sadly ‘yes’.

The biggest disadvantage of mineral oils is that they move through the engine slower than synthetic variants. This results in decreased fuel economy for your car and may affect performance also.

Further, because they don’t have modern additives, they are not as good when it comes to lubrication, rust protection or corrosion prevention. They also need to be changed more frequently.

Having said all this, if you own an older model or your manual specifically recommends mineral oil for your car, please use that.

How are synthetic oils produced?

To make synthetic engine oils for cars, certain complex chemical transformations and modifications are performed on crude petroleum. They can also be prepared by using certain types of molecules that have been pre-selected for their properties and abilities.

These modifications make synthetic oil much more sophisticated than mineral oil. For example, it contains far fewer impurities and provides much better performance. Other advantages are:

  • It needs changing less frequently
  • It offers better fuel economy and engine protection
  • It protects against oxidation, corrosion and rust formation
  • It flows well at low temperatures and is less viscous at high temperatures
  • It results in less wear and tear, thus prolonging engine life

Synthetic vs mineral oil: Which is better?

From all the above points, in summation, synthetic engine oils are far better for your car than mineral ones – unless you have a much older vehicle or the car manufacturer specifically insists otherwise.