Skip to content

What are the differences between synthetic oils and mineral oils?

Engine oil is used to lubricate engine parts and decrease friction. Before filling your oil tank, especially the first time, it is important to choose the right oil. There are two main types of engine oils: mineral oils and synthetic oils. Let’s explore their features and differences.

What is a mineral engine oil?

Mineral oils are derived from the refining of crude petroleum. During the process, natural contaminants and unwanted hydrocarbons are removed.

Mineral oils are ideal for older vehicle models. Their main advantage is low cost.

However, mineral oils flow through the engine circuit more slowly. This results in increased fuel consumption and impacted vehicle performance. Mineral oils also need to be changed more frequently than synthetic oils. However, mineral oils are quality oils that are largely sufficient if recommended by your automotive manufacturer.

What is a synthetic engine oil?

Composition of synthetic engine oils

Synthetic engine oils are a product of complex chemical transformations that are performed either directly on crude petroleum extracted by drilling or using preselected molecules. The difference with mineral oils resides in the transformation process: synthetic oil undergoes more sophisticated modifications.

Key points on synthetic oils:

  • They contain fewer impurities than mineral oils;
  • They are chemically modified.

For both types of oil, additives are added to significantly improve the oil’s performance. The additives can protect against wear, oxidation, corrosion, or foam, or provide detergents or dispersants.

Synthetic oils are mainly designed for high-performance engines.

What are the advantages of synthetic oils?

Synthetic oils offer many advantages:

  • Excellent flow at low temperatures;
  • Stable viscosity, even at high temperatures (synthetic oils do not fluidify easily);
  • Less frequent oil changes;
  • Less formation of deposits;
  • Less wear on parts;
  • Optimized fuel consumption;
  • Protection of engine, longer lifespan.

The main disadvantage of synthetic oils is that they are slightly more expensive.

All oil types are not suited to all types of engines. Before choosing between a standard mineral oil or a synthetic oil, it is important to read your automotive manufacturer’s recommendations.