The 3 Specific Benefits Of Synthetic Engine Oil Over Conventional

stang89bidges

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I just found this today researching on the interwebs. Great answer to an ancient question.

Slick Benefits

Q: I'm curious about motor oils and their influence on horsepower/longevity. I've used synthetic oil (Mobil 1) for many years now. My '88 Mustang GT 5.0 had over 400,000 miles when I sold it. It still ran fantastic, didn't smoke, and started great.

I'm once again using Mobil 1, this time in my '12 Mustang GT 5.0. Since I started using the Mobil 1, my stocker appears to rev up quicker and the car seems to be peppier. Passing is a real treat. What's the true story on the effect of motor oils on engine performance, horsepower, and long life?


A: Questions like yours make us glad to be associated with people like Lake Speed Jr., who is a certified lubrication specialist. Bottom line? The man knows engine oil. here's what he told us in response to your great question:

"Here is the straight truth. The synthetic base oil used to make synthetic motors oils like Mobil 1, Driven, Royal Purple, or Amsoil have three specific benefits over petroleum-base oils used to make conventional motor oils: lower traction coefficient, higher viscosity index, and greater specific heat capacity. Before you Google those words to see what the heck I just said, read these brief explanations and how those three properties provide better engine performance, horsepower, and longer life.

First, lower traction coefficient: Everybody loves extra horsepower, and lower traction coefficient is a fancy way of saying less drag. A motor oil that has less drag allows the engine to accelerate faster and make more horsepower. This benefit also can be seen in improved fuel economy. Synthetic base oils offer a lower traction coefficient compared to conventional base oils, so synthetic oils provide more horsepower than conventional oils. That is why Pro-Stock drag teams use lightweight, synthetic oils: more power and faster acceleration due to lower traction coefficient.

Second, higher viscosity index: All oils have something in common with pancake syrup—they get thinner as they get hotter. Just like syrup is thick when you take it out of the fridge, motor oil is thick when it is cold, but motor oil thins out just like syrup does when it gets hot. However, not all oils thin out at the same rate. The rate at which oil thins out with increasing temperature is called Viscosity Index. The greater the Viscosity Index, the less the oil thins out. I know that sounds backward, but that is the system. A high-viscosity-index oil resists thinning out better than a low-viscosity-index oil, and as a result, the higher viscosity-index oil will have more viscosity at higher temperature. More viscosity at high temperature means better high-temperature protection.

Synthetic base oils have a higher viscosity index than conventional oils, so synthetic oils offer better high-temperature protection. This is why every NASCAR team uses a synthetic-based motor oil. In fact, Driven Racing Oil got started making specialty synthetic motor oils for the top NASCAR teams. To race at wide open throttle for 500 miles, you better have an oil with a high viscosity index. If you plan on winning, you better have a low traction coefficient, so Driven specialized in making high-viscosity-index, low-traction-coefficient motor oils. In fact, making a 5W-50 motor oil like Ford calls for in some of the new Coyote engines requires a high-viscosity-index synthetic formula. Driven just released FR50, a synthetic, high-viscosity-index, low-traction-oefficient 5W-50 based on its NASCAR-proven formulas.

Last but not least, greater specific heat capacity: Oils do more than just lubricate—motor oils provide as much as 40 percent of the cooling for your engine. The specific heat capacity is a measurement of the ability of the oil to absorb heat. The higher the specific heat capacity of the base oil, the more heat the oil can absorb without ‘overheating' the oil. Accordingly, the higher the specific heat capacity, the better the oil is at cooling the critical components in the engine. A synthetic oil has a greater specific heat capacity than conventional oil, so a synthetic oil provides better cooling. Keeping items like pistons and valvesprings cool extends the life of those components. As a result, synthetic motor oils help extend the life of your engine.

All in all, synthetic oils provide better lubricant performance than conventional oils for specific and scientific reasons. While synthetic oils do cost more per quart, they obviously more than pay for themselves in extended engine life and increased performance."

http://www.mustangandfords.com/how-to/tech-qa/1406-tech-questions-and-answers-june-2014/
 
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stang89bidges

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I might as well put this in here too. Why not...

The SAE designation for multi-grade oils includes two viscosity grades; for example, 10W-30 designates a common multi-grade oil. The first number '10W' is the viscosity of the oil at cold temperature and the second number is the viscosity at 100 °C (212 °F).
 

stang89bidges

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Here is another article that discusses the ZINC factor. Its probably more important to those with older classic engines but I think I will still start adding this inside my motor oil for my late model 1989. I have a high mileage 1997 dodge as well and its burning oil. I may go with the mobile 1 high mileage and add the zinc to it also.

http://www.mustangandfords.com/parts/mump-0907-zddp-zinc-additive-engine-oil/
 

stang89bidges

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Mobile 1 chart shows there is more zinc in their oils than valvoline engine oils. I can't find a nice chart with valvoline but I looked up the high mileage valvoline and found its zinc additive is only .083 w% vs 1100 ppm in mobile 1 high mileage.

upload_2016-2-12_9-32-29.png


upload_2016-2-12_9-21-34.png


https://mobiloil.com/~/media/amer/us/pvl/files/pdfs/mobil-1-oil-product-specs-guide.pdf


And here is Valvoline High Mileage and its specs.

upload_2016-2-12_9-24-7.png

http://content.valvoline.com/pdf/maxlife.pdf


And then I found this hunting around, Ashland MSDS for valvoline high mileage. Check out the boiling point properties:

upload_2016-2-12_9-25-57.png
 

A5literMan

At least it is lumpy...
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Decent info there(even if it is PR-marketing based). I've used Mobil 1 for the past 2 years. I like it for my daily. It's not going to make any performance increase though. It accelerates the same and oil isn't going to make a sotp difference.
 
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Gearbanger 101

Straight Outta Locash
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I buy whatever is on sale at the local parts store, and back it with a good FL1A filter.....this formula has never let me down yet.

I don't get worked up trying to wade through marketing bull:poo: from companies that have a stake in their claim.
 

mikestang63

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Oil is Oil is Oil.. As long as it meets the specs , buy what is on sale. I prefer dino over synthetic, especially in an older car. Synthetic oil in an older or high mile car leads to leaks and imo offers little advantage for the price. If the car calls for synthetic then use it. I like Rotella and PYB but like I said, buy what's on sale.

If you are just starting out on a new car or motor and feel the need to spend $6 a quart, go for it. I think the filter is of more importanc and I always use a FL1A or Wix. Change the oil at regular intervals and you will be fine.
 

Boosted92LX

It's only an inch or two. What's the big deal?
SN Certified Technician
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I can say one thing for synthetic oils, Royal Purple in particular... The specific heat capacity is true true true! We have steam turbines driving blower fans atop our ethylene furnaces. They would get so hot they'd literally cook the conventional dino turbine oil in the bearing boxes. We switched over to royal purple and now they run. And run. And run. I love that stuff! It's saved me countless hours of work.

Now motor oil.. I run it in my fox just for giggles to get a little more protection from beating on it. My truck.. Pretty much whatever's on sale. It sees normal duty.
 
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stang89bidges

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Decent info there(even if it is PR-marketing based). I've used Mobil 1 for the past 2 years. I like it for my daily. It's not going to make any performance increase though. It accelerates the same and oil isn't going to make a sotp difference.
Performance. Yeah I understand this isn't going to be noticeable like the original question asks. You MIGHT see it on a dyno. But the answer is a solid professional answer IMO. It states is chemical differences and the fact that it doesn't break down as fast is a no-brainer to me that it will perform better as a heat transfer for my engine and that it will last longer which can only be better for an engine.

I also believe its not going to make a WORLD of difference with longer lasting engine internals, but hey, if you use this in your daily driver, 10-20 thousand miles more could be a lot. Its like saying if you eat McDonalds all you life your life expectancy will be 65 years. If you eat healthy nutrient rich foods your life expectancy will be 80 years. Which do you prefer?
 

stang89bidges

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I like this too from Mobile 1 website. The information above states you need more zinc than whats in mobile 1 itself but nonetheless, mobile 1 has more zinc than other oil manufacturers which in my book is a plus. However, if you don't use a zinc additive, then this is a better choice for those flat tappets ;)

upload_2016-2-12_11-44-32.png
 

hoopty5.0

mechanicus terribilis
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Synthetic oils are as much of a racket as insurance. They're completely unregulated and are free to market them as they please. Basically just doctored up mineral oil.
 

stang89bidges

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That may be true they are not regulated the same I dunno but I do know a company has to build it's reputation on good products. Not sure I would call them a racket lol.

My conventional oil turns black much faster than synthetic. That I have used anyway.

Sent from my Samsung Note 4 using Tapatalk
 

A5literMan

At least it is lumpy...
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Your info that was posted is still PR/marketing based. I'm not saying it's complete bs. If you want to run synthetic or conventional it's just not a big difference. I like it for the extra time between changes(I change it at 5k miles). My manual says to wait until the oil life expectancy monitor says 20% oil life. I don't wait for that. I just change it anywsy(usually says I still have around 40% left) Modern mechanicals have more to do with longevity than the oil technology. I.E. Roller cams,mechanical engineering,etc. I do feel there might be a slight advantage to synthetics vs petroleum based oil but it's minimal. I say run what you want for whatever reason you have. ;)
 
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hoopty5.0

mechanicus terribilis
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Oh, and the walmart house brand motor oil is re-packaged. It's made by Exxon and sold at a fraction of the price as it's brand name.
 
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stang89bidges

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I wasn't really asking questions on oil, but I'm glad people are responding to this post. I just wanted to throw some info on the forum I found. I found it all interesting. There is a lot more technical info out there too. I like researching every little part of my mustang as an enthusiast and I figure there are others on here too that will appreciate that.

This is an old subject, but it's still a hot debate. Research can only help ease the lack of knowledge some of us have when choosing an oil for our stangs.

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