The Funny Thing About Synthetic Oil by:Dirk Gibson
Synthetic oil has been touted as the cure all for engine wear. While there is little doubt that such oil provides strong benefits, are all the marketing claims to be believed? The answer is fairly surprising.
The idea of creating synthetic petroleum products was first pursued to a successful end by a surprising group - the Nazis. Germany was involved in a small war you've probably heard about from the late 1930s on. The country had deficient oil supplies and sought out alternatives. By 1944, they were producing huge swaths of synthetic fuel. During this process, Dr. Hermann Zorn started doing research on synthetic lubricants that didn't gum up. This research led to the evolution of synthetic oil as a commercial product.
In the late 1960s, Chevron launched the first synthetic oil on the consumer market. Amsoil and Mobile soon followed. The great synthetic oil movement had begun. At the time, the synthetics were clearly much better at lubricating against friction in engines. This fact soon became standard lore when discussing oils, much like the idea that you should change your oil every 3,000 miles.
The question today is whether synthetic oils are still better for your engine than standard oil, which is known as mineral oil. Surprisingly, the answer is not entirely clear. The quality of synthetic oils has not gone down over time. Instead, the quality of mineral oil products has gone up. This seems a bit odd from a business perspective. Simply put, why would a company "close the gap" on two of its products? Whatever the reason, it is clear that synthetic oil now provides minimal benefits compared to mineral oil for most cars.
The originator of this idea was Consumer Reports. It did a study comparing oils and found there was no discernable difference in wear rates between the two oils so long as the recommended oil change schedule was followed. The study received a lot of criticism regarding the testing parameters. Even if valid, the criticism doesn't change the fact the gap between synthetic and standard oil has been closed dramatically.
So, should you save money and go with standard oil over synthetic? Well, first check your owner's manual to see what is called for. If synthetic is not required, you probably don't need it unless you live in an extreme temperature like Phoenix in the summer or Minneapolis in the winter.
About the author
Dirk Gibson is with http://www.dcjautoparts.com - find high performance auto parts and accessories for your car or truck.