Synthetic Vs. Mineral Engine Oil: Which One Is The Best

Are you wondering which type of engine oil you should use in your vehicle? Maybe you’ve started by Googling it and now you’re left with many contradictory recommendations? While the internet is sure a useful tool to easily find plenty of information, everything on there is not always true or verified by facts. Luckily, we’ve created this blog post to help you get the facts straight and decided whether or not you should use synthetic or mineral engine oil in your car.

A Quick Primer

You must already be aware of how the lubrication system on your car works but just in case, here’s how it works. Since the components inside your engine are made of metal and move at incredible speed, they need to be properly lubricated to prevent them from overheating and seizing.

To do that, the oil pump pumps oil through the oil filter and then shoot it inside the valve cover and on the most important parts like the camshaft and crankshaft. The oil then drips back down into the oil pan and the cycle continues.

Quite simple, right?

However, the type of oil you use can make a big difference in how efficient the system is and can have a significant impact on the overall lifespan of your engine’s internal components. Not all engines are created equal and that’s why lubricant manufacturers offer different types of engine oil specifically designed to work perfectly on certain engines. On the other hand, using the wrong oil type in your engine can cause premature wear of expensive components.

Quick Comparison Table of Synthetic Vs Mineral Oil

Synthetic Oil

Mineral Oil

Refining Process

Thoroughly refined, no impurities & contaminations

Not properly refined, some impurities remain

Mileage

Perfect for high mileage around up to 15000 km

Recommended for less mileage around up to 5000-6000 km max

Weather Resistance

Usable in any weather no matter if it’s extremely hot or really really cold

Temperature resistant but might become thicker in extremely cold weather

Oil Leakage

Synthetic oil is a lot thinner than mineral oil and might leak more easily

Mineral oil being thicker will require a bigger crack to leak

Anti-Foam Additives

Usually contains anti-foaming additives

It depends on the manufacturer

Oil Change Period

Lasts longer so longer interval of oil changing

Oil needs to be changed every 5000km or so

Synthetic Oil in Details

Origin

Synthetic oil first originated from Germany. After the Second World War, when the German started having a hard time get their hands on mineral oil, they thought about making something artificial and more effective than mineral oil.

After succeeding in creating a viable alternative, and after further testing, they’ve realized it was even better than the original product in many ways. One thing led to another, and synthetic oil was born.

Production

Synthetic oil is generally made using traditional oil. To make synthetic oil from crude oil, it needs to be refined filtered many times in the lab.

Then, some powder additives and chemicals like methane, carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide are mixed with it. After adding different chemicals and some more modifications, synthetic oil is finally produced from the base crude oil.

Features

Lubrication

The primary purpose of using oil in an engine is to keep in properly lubricated at all times. To achieve that, synthetic oil has a very high-end lubrication formula. Synthetic oil can create a better lubrication film around the engine parts that never lets the elements rub against each other.

Wear protection

Synthetic oil contains zinc additives that help to keep the engine parts wear-free. Synthetic oil better protects your engine’s main components.

Viscosity

Viscosity is a very important feature in engine oil. One of the best perks of synthetic oil is its viscosity stays almost the same no matter the temperature. This means that the oil in your engine would have the same thickness, the same viscosity, and therefore the same lubrication properties in the winter as in the hottest days of summer

Advantages of Synthetic Oil

  • No contamination
  • Better lubrication
  • Less frequent oil changing
  • Ideal for high performing engine
  • Suitable for long rides
  • Reduced emissions
  • Compatible to any temperature

Disadvantages of Synthetic Oil

  • Expensive
  • Increased risk of valvetrain noise
  • Not better to use in the newer engines

Usability

For modern high performing engines, synthetic oil is simply the best. As this oil type has no impurities whatsoever and can keep its lubricating properties, it’s obviously the best cars often pushed to the redline. and can make a high performing lubrication film. For example, if you are looking for RAM 1500 Hemi oil, then synthetic oil is what you need.

Price

Since synthetic oil is totally made in an artificial way, it tends to be much more expensive than mineral oil. The chemicals and additives added to it and the several filtering processes make it a bit more costly to produce and, therefore, more costly to buy. However, since synthetic oil lasts longer, oil changes can be extended a bit, saving you a bit of money.

Types of Synthetic Oil

Be aware of the fact that there are two types of synthetic oil: synthetic blend and full-synthetic. The blend type is actually just a mix of 50% mineral oil and 50% synthetic oil. For this reason, synthetic oil is more expensive than a blend.

Conventional Oil in Details

Production

Mineral motor oil is organic oil with hydrocarbon. Mineral oil is made from the petroleum found deep inside the earth’s surface. After different processes like drilling, pumping, and then distillation, mineral oil is produced.

Features

Although refined to some extent, mineral oil is still just crude oil. It rarely contains additives as opposed to its synthetic counterpart. On the other hand, it does have some impurities left as it comes from mineral substances. That partly explains why it’s important to change your oil more regularly when using mineral oil in your engine.

Lubrication

Like synthetic oil, conventional oil also features good lubrication properties helping your engine to last longer.

Viscosity

As opposed to synthetic oil, the viscosity of mineral oil will change according to the temperature. During winter, the oil will become a bit thicker which could make it a bit harder for your starter to start the engine. Once started, the time it takes for the oil to reach the valvetrain is also more important. Consequently, it could be argued that synthetic oil is a better choice in cold climates.

For the same reason, mineral oil is not designed to be used in high-performance and high revving engines. Race cars typically run hotter and faster than normal cars and the higher temperature might make the oil become a bit thinner and lose its lubricating properties.

Advantages of Conventional Oil

  • Completely natural
  • Affordable & efficient
  • Perfect for regular use

Disadvantages of Conventional Oil

  • Needs more frequent replacement
  • Doesn’t perform well in excessive cold temperature
  • Not suitable for high-performance engine

Usability

Mineral oil is perfect for older car models. However, it also performs quite well on common passenger vehicles with low mileage. If you are looking for affordable oil that simply gets the job done, this is it.

Which One Should You Get

Mineral and synthetic oil are both great in their respective field. Which one is the right one for you will depends on the vehicle you drive and how you drive it.

If you own a cheap car and only go from point A to point B, mineral oil is more than enough for you. On the other hand, if you live in a cold climate, maybe you should consider using synthetic oil instead.

Mineral oil is cheaper but also requires to be changed more often. If you hate changing your oil on a regular basis, using synthetic oil will make your day!

High-mileage vehicles also perform better when using synthetic oil. However, if the car is quite old, maybe it’s not worth it to invest higher quality oil in it. It’s really a judgment call at this point.

Last Words

Answering the question “Which one is better: synthetic or mineral oil” is not that easy. Every mechanic has its own opinion and there’s simply no definitive right or wrong answer. Some people it’s better to use synthetic oil in the winter and mineral oil during summer. Others will say that synthetic oil is simply not worth the price.

In all cases, and no matter which one you choose, always make sure to replace the oil in your engine according to the manufacturer’s recommendation. Keeping your car properly maintained is always your best bet to keep the cost of repairs as low a possible.

If you are unsure of what kind of oil your car needs, you can find on this website a table with the right oil for each specific car model.