Today's modern engines are more complex then they were 20 years ago. With the complexity comes new requirements, and synthetic oil is becoming the number choice of oil for many automobile manufactures. In fact Porsche was the first car manufacturer to factory-fill its engines with synthetic oil. Conventional petroleum based oil, or dino oil as I like to call it, has a tendency to break down faster than synthetic oil does. Because synthetic oil is composed of chemical compounds that are artificially made it is generally superior to traditional dino oil.
History of Synthetic Oil
In the late 1930's German scientist, Dr. Hermann Zornteri, began searching for lubricants with the same properties of natural oils. The first synthetic oil was used in German aircraft engines in the Second World War. By the mid 1960's Chevron was the first company to produce a complete range of 100% synthetic oils. Although synthetic oil was used in the aerospace industry for many years it did not become available for automobile engines until the American Petroleum Institute (API) approved the formula. In 1972 AMSOIL sold one of the first synthetic oils for cars, which was their 10W-40.
Synthetic Oil Misconceptions
There are many misconceptions about synthetic oil. In the early 90's Consumer Reports attempted to resolve some of the misconceptions with a two-year study, which used a fleet of 75 New York City cabs. According to their study they concluded that there was no noticeable advantage using synthetic oil over traditional dino oil. However they noted that taxicabs in New York City do not see many cold starts or long periods of high speed driving. In fact the test was better for typically driving conditions, that being stop-and-go traffic. They concluded that synthetic oil would be most beneficial in cars that are used in extreme driving conditions, such as high temperatures, very low temperatures and long periods of high speed driving.
Pros & Cons of Synthetic Oil
There are many pros and cons about using synthetic motor oil over traditional dino oil. Here are just a few:
•Synthetic oil may increase the life span of your engine.
•With synthetic oil you can benefit from longer oil change intervals.
•When it comes to extreme driving conditions, synthetic oil responds better in high temperatures and very low temperatures.
•Currently synthetic oil costs more than traditional dino oil.
•To benefit from the increased life span, synthetic oil should really be used in the beginning of your engines life. If your engine is already at 100,000 miles, you probably won't see any extended life as the damage from dino oil has already been done.
•Because synthetic oil has a higher viscosity it is typically not used in a new engine. New engines require a break-in period, usually about 5,000 miles. However new machining process has made engine break-in less critical and as mentioned at the beginning of this article many manufactures are now using synthetic oil as a factory-fill.
As you can see synthetic oil is much better for today's modern engines, even Porsche thinks so. Especially in driving conditions with extreme temperatures. Although the current price may be more than conventional dino oil, as more manufactures make the switch to synthetic oil the price is bound to drop.
corey rozon is an ottawa ghost writer.
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