What is the difference between synthetic, semi-synthetic and mineral oil?

Engine oil is one of the most important substances directly influencing the technical condition of a car. It reduces the degree of wear on various engine components and also reduces fuel consumption. The choice of engine oil is a very important decision for every driver. There are many varieties of oil available in the shops. What are the differences and how to choose the version best suited to your car?


Proportions of base ingredients

There are currently three basic types of engine oil on the market: synthetic, semi-synthetic and mineral oils. They differ primarily in the proportions of the ingredients used in production, which are collectively referred to as the oil base. There are also additives in the formulation, which are selected for each type of oil individually.

Different process of oil production

Attention should also be paid to the manufacturing process itself. Mineral oils are made by refining, while synthetic versions are produced from a combination of a number of chemical compounds as base components. Mixtures of these two types of oil are called semi-synthetic.
This gives them the properties to keep the engine clean for a longer period of time and reduce the need to replace the substance with a new one.

High-quality synthetic oil

Synthetic oil is resistant to low temperatures, where it does not lose its properties. It does not thicken and therefore makes it easier to start the engine in autumn and winter. It has a low viscosity, so it is evenly distributed over all engine components. For this reason, synthetic oils are widely regarded as high quality substances. The use of synthetic oil is recommended for low mileage or brand new cars. Synthetic oils can also be effective under the high pressures to which the lubricated surfaces are subjected. This helps protect the engine from excessive wear.

Mineral oil for older vehicles

Mineral oil is considered to be of the worst quality. The most important characteristic that synthetic oil differs from mineral oil is viscosity. It is much denser due to the presence of components that cannot be eliminated in the refining process. These include sulphur and hydrocarbons. This type of engine oil is less expensive than synthetic, which is why it is a very popular choice for users of older cars with high mileage. Due to its high density, the use of mineral oil reduces leakage and overall engine wear. However, it can make it more difficult to start the engine in winter, especially during severe cold weather.

Compromise: semi-synthetic oil

A compromise solution that combines the advantages of the previous ones is semi-synthetic oil. It is manufactured on the basis of a mineral variety, but contains an admixture of synthetic oil. It allows the car to run freely without any negative impact on its technical condition, while at the same time reducing costs. The use of semi-synthetic oil does not risk flushing the carbon build-up out of the engine and reducing the compression ratio. Therefore, it is the best choice for a car with average mileage, the owner of which does not want to incur excessive expenses. However, this type of substance is not recommended for vehicles with high mileage, as it can lead to engine leakage.

The correct choice of engine oil

When selecting oil, it is essential to follow the requirements in the owner's manual. An oil that complies with the manufacturer's recommendations will be safe for the car and its engine. In addition, attention must be paid to the particulate filter, which requires the use of so-called low SAPS, or low ash, oils. If in doubt, seek specialist assistance before changing the oil. With proper maintenance, the engine will be kept in good working order and the car will always be ready to drive.

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