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Monday, 2 September 2013

Synthetic vs crude based engine oil.

Synthetic vs crude based engine oil: The debate rages on!

The long raging debate about synthetic vs crude based engine oil has taken on a whole new meaning in recent years. To meet ever tighter emissions and fuel consumption regulations manufactures are downsizing engines but at the same time increasing specific horsepower. This move has seen oil sump capacity decrease while the temperature loads have increased – especially with the increased use of Turbo charging.

The pro’s of mineral oils in the synthetic vs crude based engine oil debate.

The obvious advantage of using crude based engine lubricant is the initial cost
- about half the price of synthetic lube. Why would anyone pay twice as much for engine lubrication? Even if synthetic oil lasts longer. If the vehicle is under warranty this is a very strong case in favour of mineral oil in the synthetic vs crude based engine oil argument. OEM’s are very strict about oil change intervals so it’s not possible to extend these outside of their recommendations.

Availability used to be the other argument in favour of crude based oil, but this is no longer the case; synthetic oils are now easily accessible on any forecourt.

The case in favour of synthetics in the synthetic vs crude based engine oil argument.

Quite simply, synthetic oils offer superior performance when compared to regular engine oils.

Synthetic engine oils offer superior:
  • Oxidation properties. 
  • Viscosity stability over a wide range of operating temperatures. 
  • Reduced drag resulting in fuel savings. 
Being synthesized, synthetics are more uniform than regular oils. This results in them being more thermally stable: For instance, synthetic oils need less Viscosity Index modifier additive to keep their viscosity stable.

Synthetics also have better viscosity film strength than petroleum stocks at elevated temperatures (greater than 80°C). Film strength indicates a lubricant’s ability to occupy the space between two metal surfaces under pressure or heat.

Synthetics usually have a much higher base number (BN) retention than petroleum-based formulations. The BN is contributed by additives such as detergents and is a measure of a lubricant’s ability to neutralize acid. The longer a lubricant can resist turning to acid, the longer it can be used.

What to conclude in the synthetic vs crude based engine oil debate.


With the ever increasing costs of replacement parts and services coupled to the decreasing cost differential it’s becoming more difficult to justify using conventional engine oil in place of synthetic.

Synthetic oils offer a potential fuel saving of up to 3 to 5 %; and with less impact on the environment the argument in favour of synthetics is gaining impetus on a daily basis. Some manufacturers are already specifying 0W20 oils to meet the fuel and emissions regulations.

Irrespective of where you stand in the synthetic vs crude based engine oil argument, when it comes to supplying quality synthetic engine lubricants Habot Synthetic Lubricants have a full range of proven oils with professional service to back them up.