Synthetic vs. Conventional Engine Oil
Synthetic verses Conventional Engine oil is not a topic on every motorist mind however we all need to come to an agreement of which oil is best for our vehicles. It would probably confuse most people to know that both synthetic and conventional engine oil come out of the same ground. When the oil comes out of the ground we call it crude oil. Crude oil out of the ground is completely useless until it is separated in an oil refinery and from which we get diesel fuel, gasoline, lubricant oil, kerosene, paraffin wax, and asphalt. The process to separate crude oil is called fractional distillation. In this process crude oil is heated to 400 degrees Celsius at which temperature it turns into a vapor. This vapor is placed in a tower when at different levels traps are placed to catch the vapor as it turns back to a liquid as it cools. At 300 degrees diesel fuel turns to liquid and at 150 degrees gasoline emerges. Because we want more gasoline and diesel than asphalt and kerosene a revolutionary method called cracking was invented to change the molecular structure of the oil at super high temperatures (800 degrees C) or by using a catalyst.
When the lubricant oil is produced it will have an abundance of pollutants or impurities. If you only remove the impurities, you will have the base for conventional oil. If you change the molecular structure of the base oil and remove impurities, you are then crating a synthetic oil. Which either way you go, you will need to add additives to the oil to make it useful in today modern automobile engines. Some people use to say, “oil never goes bad”. However the additive packages get consumed by the engine running and therefore make the oil almost useless.
The more expensive the oil, the more additive are in it. A very good quality engine oil will have about 20 t0 30% of its volume consist of additives. Additives have three basic properties 1) Enhance the good things of the base oil. 2) Suppress the bad things about base oil. 3) Add new properties to the base oil with extreme pressure additives, detergents, metal deactivates, and tackiness agents to help it stick to engine parts.
Making an oil into a synthetic by changing the molecular structure allows oil lubricant companies to choose what molecule sizes are best to lubricate your engine parts and to discard the molecules that are just dead weight. In a sense you could say that synthetic engine oil is a more condensed oil for your car offering more lubrication for the same volume. Another benefit of synthetic engine oil is that at cold start- ups, the oil will flow better through the engine to help lubricate parts quicker. Why not synthetic oil on all cars? Older cars were not made for synthetic oil, if synthetic oil molecules are smaller and all about the same size, they can more easily slip pass gaskets and membranes making engines more prone to leak oil. Modern day conventional oils have amazing additive packages that allow the oils to be more durable and offer more protection that ever before. At Peak Auto conveniently located next to the Cary Auto Mall on US 64 W. in Apex NC, we believe that your vehicle manufacturer designed and built your engine with a very specific engine oil specified with a certain additive package or “approval”. It is important that we stick with the manufacturers specifications just as we use the correct spark plugs for and engine when a service is required.