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Ranking The Best Marine Oil On The Market

motorboat engine oil

Quicksilver 4-Stroke EFI Marine Oil

motorboat engine oil

Red Line 40605 2-Stroke Race Oil

motorboat engine oil

Lucas Oil Semi-Synthetic 2-Cycle Oil

Joe Appleton

If you want your boat’s engine to enjoy a long and productive life, you need to treat it with nothing less than the best marine oil that you can buy. Since your boat’s engine is the most important part of the vessel (aside from the hull, of course), it needs to be well taken care of and meticulously maintained. You can cut corners in a number of ways, but when it comes to your engine, don’t even think about it.

That means you should use a dedicated marine oil, and nothing else. As tempting as it might be to use the same oil that you’d use for you car, think again. Boat engines have very different oil specifications.

For a start, a marine engine requires an oil that can protect it from the effects of water, resisting rust and corrosion, and all the other problems that are caused by water. But that’s not all.

Marine engines operate differently too. They run harder and faster, often in the highest rev ranges. After that, they’re usually left alone for long stretches, unlike a car that’s used regularly. Dealing with these two extremes can take its toll on a boat engine, and that’s why you need specific marine products to keep your boat ship shape . And that goes for the engine too.

There are lots of different oils on the market, from two-stroke to four-stroke, with different weights and properties for a wide range of applications. So, to make life a little easier, we’ve drawn up a top list of the best boat oil products out there, with a buying guide to make sure that you buy the best oil for your engine. Here’s all you need to know.

motorboat engine oil

Quicksilver’s all-inclusive 4-stroke oil and changing kit is a great choice for easy marine oil changes. It’s an inexpensive kit that’s simple to use, convenient in nature, and perfect for all marine 4-stroke engines However it has been made with Mercury Mariner engines in mind. It’s available in three different configurations, to suit different engine sizes. These sizes include engines from 25 hp to 30 hp, engines between 40 hp and 60 hp, and for engines between 75 hp and 115 hp.

The actual oil is a 25W-40 engine oil that has been formulated with a number of additives to provide extra engine protection. Some of these additives include Quicksilver’s Flagship Protection formula, which features anti-wear properties that increases crankshaft protection by up to 33%.

Each kit comes with a variety of essential oil changing tools, including a bottle of marine oil, a new oil filter, a drain plug seal, a handy drip tray, and clear and concise instructions.

If you’re looking for an affordable all-inclusive oil changing kit from a reputable brand, then this Quicksilver 4-Stroke EFI Marine Oil kit is worth the money. Make sure that you purchase the correct kit for your engine type though, and read the customer reviews to ensure that the supplied oil filter or fuel filter is compatible with your motor.

  • Buy on Amazon   →
  • $35.99 Bass Pro   →
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Oil Type: 4-stroke Oil Weight: 25W-40 Certification: FC-W Bottle Size: 1 liter per kit (unless stated otherwise)

motorboat engine oil

Next, we have another boat oil designed specifically for two-stroke motors. This is the 40605 race oil blend from Red Line. It’s a versatile oil that’s ideally suited to marine, motorcycle, ATV, and other powersports activities. This is a high-performance oil, and while it’s geared towards racing applications, it’s perfect for high-revving two-stroke marine motors.

This formula is a touch on the expensive side, but if you want the best performance out of your engine, with smooth running and top tier protection, this is worth the extra. It has been specially formulated for high-temperature stability, which is proven to produce gains and improvements of between 3 and 5 percent when compared with other oils.

In terms of protection, this marine oil can prevent the build-up of carbon around particularly susceptible areas of your engine, such as around the combustion chambers, piston rings, and exhaust ports. The result is an engine that can perform better, run smoother, and will last longer than others being serviced with other oils.

It burns clean, reduces smoking, and will help preserve your engine—and some of its perishables too, such as the spark plug and gaskets.

But performance like this isn’t cheap, and there’s no escaping the fact that this oil has a higher price tag than others. This is a great investment if you really want performance that sits at the business end of the spectrum. However, it might be overkill for the average boater.

Oil Type: 2-stroke Suitability: Oil injection and premix Certification: TC-W3 Bottle Size: 1 U.S gallon (3.78 liters)

Sierra 25W40 Boat Oil

motorboat engine oil

If you’re looking for an inexpensive marine oil that’s designed and engineered to improve the performance and prolong the life of an inboard engine with outdrive propulsion, then this formula from Sierra offers excellent value for money.

This reliable 4-stroke engine oil has a viscosity of 25W-40, and it has been specially formulated for inboard and stern drive engines. Don’t make the mistake of confusing this with outdrive lubricant, because it’s not the right tool for the job. This marine oil is excellent for a range of other applications though.

Despite the fact that this is a cheaper product, it does have a number of premium features. The most talked about one (and arguably the biggest strength of this oil) is that it runs clean even in cold temperatures—an area that many other oils have been known to fail in.

It can also handle high horsepower engines and all of the wear and tear that inevitably goes with them, and it can also handle itself well in a marine environment, which can be undoing of some cheaper priced oils.

Again, it’s a cheaper oil, but it has all of the necessary certifications, including the most important NMMA (National Marine Manufacturers Association) FC-W one . It ticks all the right boxes, and won’t leave your wallet empty either. You even get quite a lot of it for your money too!

Oil Type: 4-stroke Oil Weight: 25W-40 Certification: FC-W Bottle Size: 5 U.S Quarts (4.7 liters)

Mercury 4-Stroke Marine Engine Oil

motorboat engine oil

When it comes to marine engines Mercury know what they’re talking about. Mercury is one of the leading names in the industry, manufacturing quality marine engines. Whether you’re in the market for an outboard motor or an inboard engine, they’re a go-to brand. So it should come as no surprise that they manufacture their own line of engine oils and lubricants too.

This particular lubricant is a synthetic oil that has been developed specifically for four-stroke engines. It has a combination of synthetic blends and additives to provide the best lubrication and protection to gasoline engines. It successfully offers superior corrosions protection when compared with other boat engine oil products, which has made it one of the most highly recommended OEM marine oils in the business.

This is a 25W-40 synthetic blend oil designed for use in a wide range of marine applications, including outboard, stern drive, and inboard engines. It’s available in 1 gallon bottle sizes, which makes it ideal for your next boat engine oil change.

It’s ideally suited for high revving engines, but it also works very well for lower horsepower motors too. Though it’s a touch more expensive than other products on the market, this oil will improve your engine life and keep your maintenance costs down. Plus, despite the fact that it is often considered a premium product, it’s not actually that expensive either.

  • $41.99 Bass Pro   →

Oil Type: 4-stroke Oil Weight: 25W-40 Certification: FC-W Bottle Size: 1 U.S gallon (3.78 liters)

motorboat engine oil

For two-stroke marine oils, you should start your search by checking out what Lucas Oil has to offer. Lucas is one of the biggest names in the lubrication game. If it has an engine, you can bet that Lucas has an oil for it. For the best marine oil for 2-stroke engines, we’d recommend the Lucas Oil Semi-Synthetic 2-Cycle Oil for consideration.

This oil has a unique blend that helps transform it into an environmentally conscious lubricant. Or at least as environmentally-conscious as an oil can be . It has a smokeless nature, which allows it to burn much cleaner than other oils, and it also boats a low ash production. Since it’s greener than other products, it makes it a far superior choice for marine applications.

It’s not just environmentally-sound either. It also offers excellent performance and increased protection, particularly for air-cooled engines. The formula is ideal for preventing carbon deposits from building up around piston rings, and inside your combustion chambers. It prevents rust, corrosion, and promises to keep your engine running better, for longer.

Naturally, this oil conforms to all regulations. It’s ISO GD and JASO FC approved, and meets and exceeds both API TC and FD standards. It’s a versatile product that can be used in two-stroke engines that are either direct oil injection or where premixing is necessary.

What’s more, this oil can actually be used for your two-stroke motorcycle too, should you have one in the garage. This makes it quite a versatile purchase. Take note though: it’s not the best choice for mixing into your weed whacker or other outdoor power tools.

The Best Marine Oil: A Buying Guide

While all engines are similar in nature, they have very different needs. Giant diesel engines have a different oil specification than a small outboard engine would, and what’s good for a fishing boat probably won’t be ideal for a high-performance power boat. The moral of the story is this: there’s no one-size fits all boat oil—not if you want decent results anyway.

Understanding how your boat engine works and what it has been designed for is key to finding the best oil for the job. While boat motors share similar DNA to engines found on land-going vehicles, such as their need for lubrication, and protection, there are some key differences. For example, marine vehicles are often in contact with water, salt, and other potentially troublesome materials, and it’s because of this that they often need specialized protection from their motor oils.

motorboat engine oil

But before we get to that part, let’s look at some of the most important things to look out for when buying new oil for you boat.

Two-Stroke Or Four?

Marine gasoline engines come in two distinct flavors: two-stroke, and four-stroke. The different engine types have different pros and cons , but we’re not here to go into detail about that. When it come to lubrication, they have major differences.

Two-stroke engines don’t have a separate lubrication system. The oil and fuel are mixed, consumed, and burned together. The oil can be injected from a separate reservoir directly into the combustion chamber, or it can be premixed in the fuel tank. This lubricated the engine as it’s used.

Four-stroke engines have a similar lubrication system that you’d find on your car. It’s a separate, self-contained system that requires you to add oil to an oil tank, which is then routed to where it needs to go. The oil isn’t spent and consumed along with the fuel.

You should be aware of what kind of engine you have. Two-strokes are generally quite noisy and exhaust noticeable blue smoke. Four-strokes are quieter and appear to burn cleaner. At this point, if you’re still not sure what type of engine you have, you probably shouldn’t be changing your own oil.

Viscosity Level

For the best results, always follow your manufacturer guidelines. Four-stroke oil will come with a viscosity level, or oil weight, printed on the bottle. It’s always recommended that you follow your manufacturer’s advice. So, if they recommend an oil with a weight of 25W-40, then you should use an oil with the same specification.

But what does that number mean?

In short, viscosity is a fluid’s resistance to flow; in this case, the viscosity is rated at two different temperatures, since oil thickens as it cools and thins as it heats. The first number is the viscosity rating that an oil has a zero degrees Fahrenheit. It’s designated with a “W” which stands for “Winter.” The second number is the oil’s viscosity at a much higher temperature, at 212 degrees Fahrenheit, to be precise. As oil gets thinner, it’s not as useful. So, a higher second number is generally better.

That’s a very simple explanation though. For the best results, we recommend that you follow the oil requirements that your manufacturer suggests.

Apart from viscosity and lubrication, there are a number of other useful features that motor oil can do. The most important one is protecting your components from damage, and extending an engine’s lifespan. Marine engines are particularly vulnerable to rust and corrosion thanks to the wet and humid conditions that they have to operate in, but with the right oil and the right blend of additives, they can be kept at bay. Almost all marine oils will have some kind of rust-protection requirement.

Look for oils that have additives and inhibitors that have been specifically engineered to stave off rust, prevent carbon build-ups, and stop corrosion in its tracks. Rust, corrosion, and excess carbon can lead to catastrophic engine failures.

Lastly, there’s the price. There are many boaters out there who will preach that oil is oil, and the differences between one brand and another are negligible. They would be right, to a degree. Any oil is better than no oil—we can all agree on that. However, those lubricants that have been specially engineered to inhibit engine wear are definitely worth paying more for.

More expensive, advanced oils will cost more, but they should extend times between maintenance. Whether you pay more for longer maintenance intervals, or pay less for oil but have to change it more often, that’s up to you. Just make sure you oil those engines!

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Joe Appleton is an outdoor enthusiast who loves everything from bushcraft and hiking to wild camping and boating. If he’s not out in the woods, you’ll find him out on the water.

Categories : Reviews

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Arthur on December 14, 2020

I use Marine outboard TCW3 in my vehicles at 1oz per 5 gallons of gasoline. That 640:1. Over four years now with no problems and vehicles run great.

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A Beginner’s Guide to Motor Oil: What You Need to Know

Motor oil seems simple. You pour it in your engine and drive away. But motor oil is far more complex...and...

Pulling oil dipstick

If you awoke this morning asking yourself, “Gee, I wonder what there is to know about motor oil?” you’re in luck. Here, we present a primer on motor oil fundamentals.

Here’s what we’ll cover:

What is motor oil?

What is in motor oil, what must a motor oil do, what is viscosity, sae viscosity grades (oil weights), how is gasoline motor oil classified, how is diesel engine oil classified.

Ready? Let’s go.

Motor oil pouring.

Motor oil is one of the most important factors in your engine’s performance and longevity.

Put simply, it’s the lubricant that prevents all those metal parts from tearing each other apart or welding themselves together into the world’s coolest boat anchor.

It reduces friction and heat while helping keep your engine clean. Without motor oil, your engine would destroy itself in a matter of seconds.

oil refinery station

Motor oil contains two fundamental components: base oils and additives .

The two work in tandem to produce the final product you put in your engine. Think of coffee as an analogy – the base oil is the water and the additive package are the coffee beans.

The base oils comprise the largest portion of the oil. They lubricate internal moving parts, absorb heat and seal the piston rings.

Motor oil base oils can be composed of 1) petroleum, 2) chemically synthesized materials or 3) a combination of synthetics and petroleum (called semi-synthetic or synthetic blend ).

Petroleum (or conventional) base oils are refined from crude oil. Contaminating elements such as sulfur, nitrogen, oxygen and metal components such as nickel or vanadium are inherent to crude oil and cannot be completely removed through the refining process. The oil refining process separates the various types of molecules in the oil by weight, leaving molecules similar in weight but dissimilar in structure, reducing performance.

Synthetic base oils, on the other hand, are highly engineered to include only beneficial molecules. As such, they contain no contaminants or molecules that don’t serve a designed purpose. Their versatility and pure, uniform molecular structures impart properties that provide better friction-reduction, optimum fuel efficiency, maximum film strength and extreme-temperature performance conventional lubricants just can’t touch.

Check out this post for the definitive guide on synthetic vs. conventional oil .

Motor oil additives

The various chemicals that comprise a motor oil’s additive system provide anti-wear, anti-foam, anti-corrosion, acid-neutralization, viscosity-maintenance, detergency and dispersancy properties .

A few examples of chemical additives include zinc, phosphorus and boron. Striking the perfect balance of the proper additives in relation to the base oil is a tough balancing act for oil formulators, especially as vehicles grow more demanding and sophisticated.

Modern motor oil is a highly specialized product carefully developed by engineers and chemists to perform many essential functions. A motor oil must…

Minimize friction

Lubricants reduce contact between components, minimizing friction and wear. This helps your engine run better and last longer.

AMSOIL fights wear

Lubricants maintain internal cleanliness by suspending contaminants within the fluid or by preventing the contaminants from adhering to components .

Base oils possess a varying degree of solvency that assists in maintaining internal cleanliness. Solvency is the ability of a fluid to dissolve a solid, liquid or gas.

While the solvency of the oil is important, detergents and dispersants play a key role. Detergents are additives that prevent contaminants from adhering to components, especially hot components such as pistons or piston rings. Dispersants are additives that keep contaminants suspended in the fluid. Dispersants act as a solvent, helping the oil maintain cleanliness and prevent sludge formation.

Clean engine sludge

Reducing friction minimizes heat in moving parts , which lowers the overall operating temperature of the equipment. Lubricants also absorb heat from contact surface areas and transport it to a location to be safely dispersed, such as the oil sump.

Fun Fact: Lubricating an engine requires a very small amount of motor oil compared to the amount needed to ensure proper cooling of these internal parts.

Act as a dynamic seal

Motor oil acts as a dynamic seal in locations like the piston ring/cylinder interface. A dynamic seal helps keep combustion gases in the combustion chamber, which maximizes horsepower and helps prevent hot gases from contaminating the motor oil in the sump.

Dampen shock

A lubricant can cushion the blow of mechanical shock.

A functional lubricant film resists rupture and absorbs and disperses these energy spikes over a broad contact area. By dampening mechanical shock, the oil minimizes wear and damaging forces, extending the component’s operating life.

Protect against corrosion

A lubricant must have the ability to prevent or minimize internal component corrosion. Lubricants accomplish this either by chemically neutralizing corrosive products or by forming a barrier between the components and the corrosive material.

Fun Fact: Motor oil has no natural ability to resist rust and corrosion; those properties must be added through use of motor oil additives.

motorboat engine oil

Transfer energy

Because motor oil is incompressible, it makes an excellent energy-transfer medium, such as when used with hydraulic valve lifters or to actualize components in an engine with variable valve timing.

water and honey viscosity

Viscosity refers to the oil’s resistance to flow and is the most important property of an oil. The viscosity of oil varies with changes in temperature – thinner when hot, thicker when cold.

Although oil must flow at cold temperatures to lubricate the engine at startup, it must also remain thick enough to protect the engine at high operating temperatures. When an oil is used at a variety of temperatures, as with most engines, the change in viscosity should be as minimal as possible .

Wouldn’t it be handy to have a number that indicated the oil’s viscosity change? We do, and it’s called the Viscosity Index (VI) . It is measured by comparing the viscosity of the oil at 40°C (104°F) with its viscosity at 100°C (212°F). The higher the VI, the less the viscosity changes with temperature changes and the better the oil protects the engine. Synthetics typically have a higher VI than conventional oils.

For a deep dive on motor oil viscosity and how it affects engine protection, see this post .

What if I use the wrong viscosity (weight) of motor oil?

The Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) has developed several viscosity classifications or grades , such as 5W-30, 10W-40 and 15W-50. People often refer to them as “oil weights.”

These viscosity grades (or oil weights) designate the specific ranges in which the particular oil falls.

The “W” indicates it is suitable for use in cold temperatures. (Think of the “W” as meaning “Winter.”) The classifications increase numerically; the lower the number, the lower the temperature at which the oil can be used for safe and effective engine protection. Higher numbers reflect better protection for high-heat and high-load situations.

The overwhelming majority of oils today are multi-viscosity, meaning they behave differently at different operating temperatures to provide the best of both worlds – good cold-flow when the temperature drops and reliable protection once the engine reaches operating temperature.

For example, a 5W-30 motor oil performs like an SAE 5W at 40ºC (104ºF) and an SAE 30 motor oil at 100ºC (212ºF).

oil viscosity chart

The American Petroleum Institute (API) developed a classification system to identify oils formulated to meet the different operating requirements of gasoline and diesel engines.

The API system has two general categories: S-series and C-series.

The S-series service classification emphasizes oil properties critical to gasoline engines .

When an oil passes a series of both bench tests and engine tests (API Sequence tests), it can be sold bearing the applicable API service classification.

The classifications progress alphabetically as the level of lubricant performance increases. Each classification replaces those before it. Oils meeting the latest API classification, API SP, may be used in any engine calling for it or a previous API specification unless otherwise specified.

The API SP category is the most recent classification , replacing those before it. SP oils are designed to provide…

  • Improved oxidation resistance
  • Deposit protection
  • Maximum fuel economy
  • Emissions-system performance
  • Resistance to a new type of engine knock called low-speed pre -ignition (LSPI)

motorboat engine oil

C-series classifications pertain to diesel engines and include those shown below.

Not all C-series classifications supersede one another. Note the FA-4 classification , which pertains only to some 2017 and newer diesel engines. The FA-4 classification was introduced primarily to help maximize fuel economy in over-the-road trucks.

api diesel engine oil chart

Putting it all together

That’s a ton on information, but it boils down to this: motor oil is more than a commodity. It’s a vital part of your engine’s longevity and performance.

As such, it pays in the long run to use the best oil for your vehicle . The initial price of a high-quality synthetic motor oil may be more, but the lifetime cost can be far less compared to conventional oil, especially if you practice extended drain intervals.

Originally published May 15, 2018.

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Expert Reveals Why Motor Oil Viscosity Can Make or Break an Engine

Posted: July 18, 2024 | Last updated: July 18, 2024

<p>Hybrid cars have both an internal combustion engine and an electric drivetrain. This means that every hybrid car has two motors. And two motors mean more things are going to need repair and maintenance. This leads to more complex servicing and potentially more of your money spent at an auto mechanic.</p>

It’s a well–established rule that motor oil is the life’s blood of a car’s engine. But what does that mean exactly? What are the do’s and don’ts of motor oil when it comes to a car’s maintenance?

Thankfully for us, the Motor Oil Geek YouTube channel has recently unveiled another video delving into the specifics and science of motor oil. In this episode, host Lake Speed Jr. breaks down everything you need to know about motor oil viscosity breakdown but never knew to ask.

<p>In his <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R1ItaRRXHHI" rel="nofollow noopener">video</a>, Speed Jr. ran an engine through a dynamometer, both naturally aspirated and on BOOST, to discover what BOOST does to a vehicle’s motor oil. He then took samples of the oil after each run to see how it was affected and compared the results. </p><p>Ben Strader ran the tests at his facility at <a href="https://efi101.com/" rel="nofollow noopener">EFI University</a>, a school that specializes in high–performance engine training. They ran over 20 pounds of BOOST at 1,300-hp. It’s safe to say they had a good sample size for the test.  </p>

Why Does Viscosity Matter?

For those unfamiliar with Lake Speed Jr., he is an expert in all things motor oil. He was an integral member of the team that created Joe Gibbs Driven Racing Oil and is a member of the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE).

In the video , Speed Jr. states that “viscosity is the most important characteristic of any lubricant.” Lower oil viscosity leads to higher engine wear. As Speed Jr. explains, “As an oil analyst, I’ve seen thousands of used oil samples, and I can tell you the number one reason for high wear is typically lower viscosity.”

<p>As a general rule, avoid oils without current API or ILSAC certifications. ILSAC is short for International Lubricant Standardization and Approval Committee and refers to a consortium comprising American, Japanese, and European automobile manufacturers who pursue and uphold performance standards for automotive lubricants.</p><p>API, on the other hand, refers to the American Petroleum Institute trade association that develops and publishes industry standards for petroleum-related products. So, you might be better off avoiding products without these two certifications.</p><p>Look for the ILSAC or API logos or symbols on the product label or packaging. The ILSAC is usually represented with an “I” and “L” enclosed in a circle, while the API features a circular symbol with the API initials in the center and the service category designation (e.g., API SN, API CK-4) around the perimeter.</p>

Proper Lubrication

In layman’s terms, metal parts grinding against each other is not good for car engines. If you know of Speed Jr. and his passionate advocacy for accurate motor oil knowledge, you’ve likely heard him talk about the “four R’s of proper lubrication.”

In a nutshell, the four Rs refer to how oil viscosity, amount, placement, and time combine to properly lubricate an engine. Disrupting one of those elements disrupts the balance necessary for motor oil to function at maximum capacity.

For example, Speed Jr. has previously discussed why adding oil additives can destroy this delicate mixture. Essentially, manufacturers fine–tune motor oils before sending them to stores.

Anytime someone adds extra chemicals to them, it threatens to disrupt the oil’s balance and intended effect. Speed Jr., being the colorful guy that he is, likened adding extra chemicals to motor oil to playing “chemical Russian roulette” with a vehicle’s engine.

In short, if you don’t want your engine to break down or fail, make sure that it is properly lubricated.

<p>Sorry to disappoint you if you opened this article expecting to read about how Penzzoil, Mobil 1, Valvoline, or any of the numerous car engine oil brands are bad for your car. That’s not to say you shouldn’t want to know. After all, we’re talking about the lubricants largely responsible for promoting your engine’s lifespan, as they clean, cool, and protect the engine from corrosion.</p> <p>However, we feel that picking out certain brands as the “worst” car engine oils isn’t as clear-cut or straightforward as we would like, especially considering that many low-quality oils lack brand recognition.</p> <p>Plus, accusing any one brand as “bad” might be reckless, since oil quality can very well be determined by specific engine needs and other factors like driving habits and climate.</p> <p>We’ve outlined factors that make an engine oil “poor quality” or one of the “worst.” You might want to avoid these.</p>

Testing Viscosity

Speed Jr. points out that motor oils such as 0W40, 5W50, or 10W60 come with “a lot” of multi–grade additives. These are also known as viscosity index improvers, and under some circumstances, they can “mechanically sheer and break down.”

He does note that some of these viscosity index improvers are better than others, so they won’t always break down. But how can you tell which ones are better?

That’s the purpose of Speed Jr.’s tests in this video. Speed Jr. took different oils to the lab to test how oils with viscosity index improvers compared to oils without them and how various viscosity index improvers stacked up against each other.

<p>Rudolf Diesel successfully built the first compression ignition engine in 1897, and since then, diesel engines have been used to power everything from farm equipment to race cars.</p> <p>For a while, it was the propulsion method of choice for those who wanted to go green, although we’ve since learned some ugly truths about the diesel’s environmental impact.</p> <p>However, we think the diesel engine still has a place, and it’s the perfect engine for those looking for an efficient and reliable option should definitely consider one.</p>

Mechanical Shearing

According to Speed Jr. and David Stoiber at the High Performance Lubricants lab, mechanical shearing of the viscosity index improvers is the primary cause of viscosity breakdown. That means an engine’s components can pound the oil out of grade.

For example, the manufacturer can produce an oil with a grade of 0W40, but running it through an engine repeatedly can alter the oil’s chemical composition because its “polymers are being sheared mechanically,” according to Speed Jr. He claims that he has seen this happen with engine oil even after only a few hundred miles of driving.

<p>When going over the results, Speed Jr. equated what he found to old ads showing what people’s brains look like on drugs. He said that he felt the same looking at the test results, “This is your oil on BOOST.” Again, Speed Jr. is a lubrication expert. He played an essential role in developing <a href="https://engineperformanceexpo.com/Speakers/lake-speed-jr/" rel="nofollow noopener">Joe Gibbs Driven Racing Oil</a>. When he talks about anything related to motor oil, it’s worth listening to. </p><p>He noted that they ran the engine cold in order to keep the oil viscosity up to protect the engine. But after doing 16 runs on the dynamometer, the BOOST had “crushed” the oil. </p>

Their test took common motor oils, such as Castrol Edge 5W40, MOBIL 5W50, MOBIL FS OW40, and Liqui Moly 10W60, and compared their viscosity breakdowns to oils without viscosity index improvers. So, it’s oils with lots of polymers versus oils with no polymers.

Speed Jr. found that the common motor oils each lost about a grade’s worth of viscosity. The 10W60 lost the most viscosity to mechanical shearing, at 14.54 percent. Meanwhile, 5W50 lost 9.7 percent, 5W40 lost 7.21 percent, and 0W40 lost 5.53 percent.

But what about the base oils without viscosity index improvers? Those oils experienced almost no change in their compositions. According to Speed Jr., that’s due to those base oils having dispersant additives, which give them more long–form polymers.

In the end, Speed Jr. cites that oils with more shear–stable polymers will maintain a better viscosity for a longer period. So, an oil’s ability to stay in grade comes down to the chemicals in it more than which manufacturer produced it. 

<a href="https://wealthofgeeks.com/the-best-tv-anti-heroes/">Mayhe</a><a href="https://wealthofgeeks.com/the-best-tv-anti-heroes/"> Vote</a><a class="row-title" href="https://wealthofgeeks.com/these-gas-pickup-trucks-are-a-waste-of-money/" rel="noopener">These Gas Pickup Trucks Are a Waste of Money</a>

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What is Motor Oil?

What Is Motor Oil?

What is motor oil.

Historically, motor oil was just a mixture of base oil and additives used to lubricate engine parts, reduce friction, clean, cool, and protect the engine.

However, modern synthetic motor oils  are a complex mixture of base oils and additive components designed to perform a variety of tasks:

  • Separating and lubricating moving parts
  • Reducing engine wear
  • Helping to prevent deposits from forming on internal engine components
  • Removing and suspending dirt and contaminants in the oil until these contaminants can be removed at the next oil change
  • Cooling engine parts
  • Enhancing engine fuel efficiency
  • Providing protection across a wide range of temperatures
  • Operating hydraulics in variable valve timing
  • Helping protect the emissions system

In other words, modern synthetic motor oil does a lot more than just lubricate. It's responsible for engine wear protection and engine performance enhancement as well as complete protection of all moving parts.

Engine oil is comprised of two basic components--base oils and additives. The base oils constitute 70-90 percent of the total and are created from natural gas or crude oil, while additives round out the remaining 10-30 percent and can be variety of things.

These additives include among other things:        

  • Dispersants
  • Anti-wear additives
  • Friction modifiers
  • Antioxidants
  • Anti-foam additives
  • Corrosion inhibitors
  • Viscosity index improvers
  • Pour point depressants

Why is a Motor Oil’s Ability To Clean Important?

Every time your engine runs, by-products from combustion contaminate your engine oil. If the contaminants build up in the oil, they can settle and create sludge and deposits in the engine. Using low quality motor oil, neglecting to change your oil, and maintenance issues can also lead to sludge forming in your engine.

If your engine components and oil passages are dirty, your vehicle performance, efficiency and quality can diminish. Deposits also trap heat inside your engine like an insulating blanket. That is why it is important to use a motor oil like Pennzoil Platinum ® that helps keep engines clean.

What are Dispersants?

A dispersant protects your engine’s performance by helping to keep sludge from forming on internal engine parts by suspending contaminants in the oil until they can safety removed at the next oil change keeping your engine cleaner.

What are Detergents?

Detergents operate on high-temperature surfaces, such as the piston-ring area and the piston under-crown, helping to prevent deposits. This protects against engine wear and increases the performance and efficiency of your vehicle. These detergents get consumed over the life of your oil change.

Why are Anti-Wear Additives Important?

High pressure points, like between the camshaft lobe and its follower, can reach over 200,000 pounds per square inch of pressure! The advanced anti-wear additives in Pennzoil Synthetics, like ZDDP or “zinc,” form a protective layer that is thinner than a strand of human hair, yet able to absorb impact at high pressure points inside your engine. This layer protects all of the parts of your engine from wear caused by friction and heat.

Antiwear additives operate under high temperatures and high load conditions, protecting engine parts like camshaft lobes, lifters, piston rings and cylinder walls. Antiwear additives coat these surfaces in a “sacrificial layer” or film, which is consumed as it protects. Without this “sacrificial layer,” metal-to-metal contact would occur. Like detergents, antiwear additives also get consumed over the life of your oil change. This is another reason you should always change your oil at recommended intervals.

What Do Friction Modifiers Do?

Friction modifiers are pretty straightforward -- they reduce friction under high loads and high temperatures. This protects your engine parts from wear and helps maintain peak efficiency, performance, and fuel economy. The effectiveness of these additives diminishes over time as the oil ages.

The Reason Your Oil Needs Antioxidants

Oxidation results from exposure of the oil to oxygen at high temperatures. It’s a bad thing. The results of such exposure can accelerate the breakdown of the oil and contribute to oil thickening, sludge, and deposits. This buildup of grime lowers the performance and efficiency of your vehicle. Antioxidants help slow oxidation in the oil to help keep engines running clean.

Three Reasons Your Oil Needs Anti-Foam Additives

Air bubbles caused by foam create a variety of problems in oil. They make oil harder to pump to vital engine parts, reduce the oil’s lubrication effectiveness, and inhibit the oil’s ability to help keep the engine cool. All of these things hurt a vehicle's performance and efficiency and an oil that has foamed-up can result in serious engine damage. An anti-foam additive helps prevent these problems, specifically at high temperatures.

How Rust and Corrosion Inhibitors Benefit Your Engine

It might sound strange, but internal engine parts can be subject to rust and corrosion. Rust and corrosion inhibitors coat metal surfaces, protecting your engine against these hazards. Rust inhibitors help protect against the reaction of water on metals. Corrosion inhibitors help protect against the reaction of acids on metal.

Understanding the Need for Viscosity Index Improvers

The viscosity index measures an oil’s ability to resist changes in viscosity as temperature changes. Viscosity index improvers utilize polymer additives to help maintain oil viscosity over a wide range of temperatures. The more viscous the oil is, the more easily it coats and completely protects your engine parts from wear. The use of viscosity index improvers allows the formulation of multi-grade engine oils, such as SAE 0W-40 and SAE 5W-30

Pour-Point Depressants are Important. Why?

Pour point depressants help motor oil flow at extremely low temperatures. This is important because motor oil needs to flow well in order to fully cover your engine parts and be able to protect them and maintain its efficiency regardless of temperature. Flow is important in cold engines as oils that are difficult to pump at cold temperatures require additional energy to circulate. This results in added stress on the engine and decreased efficiency.

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10 Best Synthetic Motor Oils

Magnus Sellén

  • Updated: March 21, 2024

Mechanic Base is supported by its audience. If you buy through links on this page, we may earn a small commission.

Best Overall

Liqui Moly 2041

Liqui Moly 2041

Highly protective and high-quality oil with a great mix of price and quality.

Premium Choice

Castrol 03057

Castrol 03057

Premium motor oil for reduced wear and friction for performance engines.

High Mileage Oil

Valvoline High Mileage

Valvoline High Mileage

The perfect motor oil for older or high mileage engines that need long-lasting protection.

The debate surrounding synthetic motor oils is a longstanding one. You’ll most probably come across a storm of opinions on their performance as opposed to conventional oils. Yet, one fact is clear- the benefits of synthetic motor oils are definitely visible if your vehicle is ready to carry them! 

Does the appeal of synthetic motor oils tempt you? If you find yourself nodding “yes” to this, you’re at a fortunate place. The array of these oils available today may puzzle you when it comes to picking the best. Especially when several of them seem to market themselves as superior! 

Below, you will find a carefully-curated list of 10 genuinely superior synthetic motor oils. These are the best in the game, so you can rest assured of their quality and performance. Read on. 

Remember to always follow your engine manufacturer’s recommended specifications for your engine oil before you buy one

The 10 Best Synthetic Motor Oils

10 Best Synthetic Motor Oils

1. Liqui Moly 2041 Premium – Best Synthetic Motor Oil Overall

Liqui Moly 2041 Premium

The Liqui Moly 2041 Premium Synthetic Motor Oil has “premium” right in its name. It hails from Germany, with top-tier production standards. It is a synthetic staple oil for European cars, that’s for sure.

It provides excellent security against engine wear. It offers a long life of service for your engine thanks to its quick delivery of oil at low temperatures. In addition to this, it flaunts incredibly high lubrication dependability at any temperature. This characteristic results in brilliant engine purity or cleanliness.

The Liqui Moly 2041 Premium Synthetic Motor Oil holds several approvals, including ACEA A3 and B4, API CF, and SN. Vehicles that must comply with Porsche A40, VW 505 00, BMW Longlife-98, and MB 229.3 specifications are the recommended synthetic oil subjects.

A glaring advantage that you cannot overlook is that it works with both diesel and gasoline engines.

  • Functions well with gas as well as diesel
  • Curated for rapid delivery of oil at low temperatures
  • High lubrication at all temperatures
  • Protects against wear
  • It keeps the engine pure and clean
  • Prone to spillage when opening

2. Castrol 03057 GTX MAGNATEX Full Synthetic Motor Oil

Castrol 03057 GTX MAGNATEX Full Synthetic Motor Oil

Are you looking for an oil that will radically bring down the level of wear your engine suffers? The Castrol GTX MGNATEC is your answer. It gives its word that your engine parts will function up to 4x smoother than before.

This motor oil’s unique characteristic is its formulation- comprising intelligent molecules that latch onto the engine. This persists regardless of the driving conditions, even when your vehicle’s engine is shut down.

The Castrol GTX MAGNATEC protects your engine in an unmatched manner, mainly because 75% of engine fraying happens during warming up. It saves up valuably since there is no need for extensive recirculation and lubrication after starting the engine.

You can buy the Castrol GTX MAGNATEC in 10W-30, 5W-30, 5W-20, and 0W-20 variants. The viscosity drives the performance claims, but at the very least, it meets API SN and ILSAC GF-5 standards.

  • Reduces engine wear
  • It turns vital engine parts smoother
  • Inserts a coat of protection over the engine
  • Satisfies numerous standards
  • The container may leak easily
  • Viscosity options are limited

RELATED: What Does SAE Stand for in Motor Oil?

3. Valvoline High Mileage SAE Synthetic Blend Motor Oil

Valvoline High Mileage SAE Synthetic Blend

Valvoline is quite a well-known brand, with a practical and highly functional range of motor oils. The Valvoline High Mileage Synthetic Blend Motor Oil comes with seal conditioners that invigorate engine seals that are aging. They stop and prevent oil leaks , too- a common occurrence in high mileage engines.

In addition to this, the Valvoline High Mileage Synthetic Blend Motor Oil serves your engine with added protection against wear and contamination. The detergents in this oil keep your engine clean since they bond with and remove deposits and sludge. There are antioxidants in it, too, preventing oil breakdown.

The additives in this oil against wear can persist in the harshest conditions as per friction and temperature. Most viscosity grades of the Valvoline High Mileage Synthetic Blend Motor Oil exceed or at least meet the standards of GM dexos1 Gen 2.

  • It contains seal conditioners that refresh old engine seals
  • Offers extra armor against wear
  • Averts engine sludge
  • The cap of the jug is not well-fitting and secure

4. Castrol 03084C Edge Advanced Full Synthetic Motor Oil

Castrol 03084C Edge Advanced

Are you on the hunt for maximum functioning and security for your vehicle? The Castrol 03084C Edge Advanced Full Synthetic Motor Oil with Fluid Titanium Technology is your best bet.

The technology claims to have a transformational effect on the oil’s structure under pressure, keeping metals away from each other. It dramatically reduces friction that can steal away horsepower.  

The Castrol Edge increases the strength of oil film by about 30%. When you compare it to the industry typicals, this motor oil is 10x stronger versus heat and 6x stringer versus wear. Your fuel efficiency and the economy will benefit from the 0W grades.

  • Offers impressive strength under pressure
  • It brings down metal-to-metal contact
  • Meets several standards
  • May turn dark faster than its rivals

5. Valvoline Advanced Full Synthetic Motor Oil

Valvoline Advanced Full Synthetic Motor Oil

Valvoline has another spot on this list, owing to its sheer reliability and cost-effective nature. The Valvoline Advanced Full Synthetic Motor Oil from the SynPower range guarantees cleanliness and protection against sludge for your engine.

Your engine will remain protected under high heat or cold under extreme driving conditions too. The oil flow is quicker when starting the engine. The Valvoline Advanced Full Synthetic Motor Oil has a specific design to fight engine stress caused by heat, wear, and deposits.

It contains superior anti-wear additives that remain in the oil for a long duration. The viscosity grades of 5W-30, 5W-20, and 0W-20 meet GM dexos1 Gen 2 requirements.

  • Protects the engine against varnish and sludge
  • Regulated fuel efficiency
  • Exceeds industry standards for most American vehicles
  • The jug is not ergonomic to use while pouring
  • Oil may contain conventional mixes and blends

6. Royal Purple 51530 High-Performance Motor Oil 5W-30 (5QT) 

Royal Purple 51530 High-Performance Motor Oil

The Royal Purple motor oil is one of the best options you can choose for your vehicle. This is because it is a widely trusted name among automobile aficionados. Current technology use and innovative practices are just a few reasons why this synthetic oil is a good option. 

The additive technology in this motor oil provides an excellent fuel economy and prevents any excess damage caused to the vehicle’s exhaust system. It also reduces metal-to-metal contact in the vehicle and makes it more efficient. 

Another essential feature of this oil is that it reduces sludge caused by high amounts of gasoline-ethanol blends. This is because of the oil’s additive technology, and you must consider buying it if you use fuel that has ethanol. 

It has high corrosion-resistant properties, and it also protects against LSPI. The cost of this fuel might throw most people off. However, the properties and the efficiency of it make it worth the consideration.

  • Improved protection 
  • Better fuel efficiency 
  • Enhanced ethanol compatibility 
  • ILSAC GF-5 and dexos1 requirements met
  • Catalytic emission system protected


  • It can be considered expensive 
  • Not many options for viscosity

7. Shell Rotella T6 Full Synthetic 5W-40 Diesel Engine Oil

Rotella Shell Rotella T6 Full Synthetic

Shell is a well-known brand in the motor oil industry. However, this synthetic motor oil is one of our top choices because of its wide array of features. Studies conducted on this product prove that it is set to improve your vehicle’s fuel economy by no less than 1.5%.

The unique additive formula of this synthetic motor oil protects your engine and the rest of your vehicle’s components. This increases its lifespan as it also protects against dust, soot, and other elements that could contaminate your engine. 

This motor oil is extremely stable and prevents any viscosity loss too. It helps maintain the oil pressure adequately and continuously enhances the performance of the machine. It works excellent with diesel automobiles, including tractors and trailers.  

The product has all the necessary specifications and certifications that make it an excellent choice for any vehicle. Be it cars or pick-up trucks. Here are a few mentioned below. 

API: Caterpillar ECF-2/ECF-3; Allison TES 439; Cummins CES 20086, 20081; CK-4, CJ-4, CI-4 PLUS, CI-4, CH-4; ACEA E9; MB-Approval 228.31; JASO MA/MA2; MAN M3575; Ford WSS-M2C171-F1; JASO DH-2; Detroit Fluid Specification (DFS) 93K222, 93K218; and Volvo VDS-4.5, 4.


  • Premier additive formula 
  • Increased fuel efficiency 
  • Protection against dirt and contaminants 
  • Shear stability 
  • People’s favorite 
  • Not very inclusive 

8. Mobil 1 (120766) Extended Performance 5W-30 Motor Oil – 5 Quart

Mobil 1 120766 Extended Performance

Another top contender is the Mobil 1 synthetic motor oil . This is a fantastic choice for automobile enthusiasts because of its innovative additive formula. This unique formula elongates the engine’s life and makes it more fuel-efficient. 

This is because one of the best qualities of this motor oil is that it maintains oil viscosity and protects the engine’s vital components against sludge, dirt, etc. It has remarkable lubrication and reduces physical wear and tear in the machine. 

This oil is especially great for people living in colder regions. The additive formula of this oil makes it very easy to restart your engine in cold temperatures. Its unique formula prevents the possibility of oil breakdowns too. 

It is an affordable choice for most people. Motor oil is highly compatible with a wide range of automobiles. However, it is advised that you cross-check the compatibility once before using it.

  • Trusted brand 
  • Fuel efficiency 
  • Temperature protection 
  • Dirt protection 
  • Oil breakdown is reduced 
  • Chances of engine becoming noisier 
  • Price variation observed from place to place

9. Pennzoil Platinum Full Synthetic Motor Oil 5W-30 – 5 Quart

Pennzoil Platinum Full Synthetic Motor Oil

This Pennzoil motor oil was created with the help of a premier gas-to-oil technology. This process is credited to converting pure natural gas to synthetic base oil readily. The technique ensures the purity of the oil, which makes it an excellent option for your vehicle. 

Firstly, the additive feature of this oil, along with its gas-to-oil technology, ensures fuel efficiency. Studies have proven that your vehicle could increase up to 550 extra miles with this synthetic motor oil in one year. This is because the company claims your engine will be 50 times cleaner than any other motor oil.

It protects engines against LSPI, which makes it an excellent choice for turbocharged engines too. Additionally, the oil lubricates engines readily in cold temperatures. Your vehicle will start faster and incur minimum cold-damage. Contrarily, this oil prevents evaporation in hot climates.

Here are a few specifications of this synthetic motor oil:

Volvo, FCA MS-6395, Honda/Acura HTO-06, GM dexos1 Gen 2, Ford WSS-M2C946-B1, and Chrysler MS-13340.

This synthetic motor oil exceeds the prerequisites of the following:


  • Completely synthetic 
  • Enhances fuel economy of the vehicle
  • Engine protection 
  • It helps maintain engine quality in extreme temperatures
  • Prevents wear and tear from oxidation stability
  • Fuel efficiency not as high as other brands 
  • Packaging below par

10. Mobil 1 (120769) High Mileage 5W-30 Motor Oil – 5 Quart

Mobil 1 120769 High Mileage

This synthetic motor oil is an excellent option for people looking for something for engines with more than 75,000 miles on them. The Mobil 1 oil ensures extreme protection and lubrication to the engine. 

It enhances the performance of the engine while still providing it with adequate protection against sludge build-up. It is far more advanced than most other motor oils by the same brand. It works best for old engines as it prevents any pesky leaks too. 

Leaks in the engine are controlled with the help of the boosted seal conditioner. This may weaken over time and cause leaks. However, the conditioner prevents any untimely shrinkage of this seal. The brand claims that this oil can ensure over 500,000 miles worth of protection for your engine if you choose this oil. 

  • Great for high-mileage engine
  • Protection for essential engine components 
  • Sludge deposits are minimized 
  • Reduced chances of leaks 
  • Viscosity options are not satisfactory 
  • Price changes

Synthetic Motor Oils – Buying Guide 

engine oil

With so many options online, you are practically spoilt for choice. However, not all synthetic motor oils are worth your money. So, before you buy any synthetic motor oil for your vehicle, you must learn more about it. Here is a comprehensive buying guide to help you with your purchase. 

RELATED: 10 Best Oil Filters

You need to pick the right brand of motor oils first. Going with a new brand that has no previous customer reviews could be a gamble when it comes to your vehicle’s engines. Make sure you only opt for synthetic motor oils from reputed brands online. 

A few profitable brands that you can consider buying from including Mobil, Valvoline, Castrol, and Royal purple. These brands have made their name in the industry and are now trusted household names. 


Most good things come at a price. So, if you want to prioritize your engine’s health, you might have to splurge on this motor oil. Many motor oils that cost less than $20 are generally synthetic blends. They are just as good but inexpensive. 

On the other hand, synthetic oils over $20 are entirely manufactured and are usually on the steeper end. Their quality is unmatched because of their formulas and purity of blend.  

Viscosity is essentially the thickness of the motor oil you use. It can be measured and written down as 5W-30, 5W-20, and 0W-20. The first digit in this number signifies the viscosity in cold temperatures, and the number at the end denotes consistency in heat. 

The viscosity of the oil is important because it determines how your engine will perform. Your engine will have to do more work if the motor oil is too thick. So, your motor oils should be consistent and not change too rapidly with temperature changes. 

Additives are extra components in the synthetic motor oil; this could be anything from corrosion inhibitors, viscosity index improvers, anti-foaming agents, conditioners, detergents, antioxidants, dispersants to anti-wear agents. Do your research well and see what works best for your vehicle.


Understand what your vehicle engine needs and make sure you give it that. Test both synthetic motor oil and conventional motor oil and see which one has the best effect on your machine. 

To conclude with

Synthetic motor oil has a large number of benefits over traditional oil. You can test it out on your vehicle and see if it works. Be sure to do your research well and pick the right option. The suggestions mentioned above are sure to help you too!

What brand of synthetic motor oil is best?

The debate surrounding the best synthetic motor oils is a longstanding one. However, we strongly recommend choosing any of the known brands like Mobil, Valvoline, Castrol, Liqui Moly, and Royal purple.

Is Mobil 1 the best synthetic oil?

Mobil 1 is absolutely in the top 5 of the best synthetic motor oils you can find on the market. However, if it is really best is just speculation; it depends on your car engine model. Not all engine oils are suitable for all engines.

What is the best 5W30 synthetic oil?

If you are looking for a great 5W30 synthetic motor oil, you should absolutely look into any of these brands: Mobil, Valvoline, Liqui Moly, Castrol, and Royal purple. We do recommend Castrol or Liqui Moly for most engine types.

Will synthetic oil last 2 years?

The most so-called “long-life” synthetic motor oils last up to 2 years or even longer. However, it is not recommended to use them if they are older because they will lose their performance. Check the motor oil specifications for exact information.

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How to Pick the Right Motor Oil for Your Car

Let’s explain all of those confusing numbers, letters and terms to help you choose the right oil for your car.

oil for car

Gear-obsessed editors choose every product we review. We may earn commission if you buy from a link. Why Trust Us?

The owner's manual for your car will list its recommended oil weight, whether that's a standard format like 10W-30 or something more unusual. That number refers to the viscosity (or thickness) of the oil that you should use. You should adjust which weight and type for the seasons and your expected use of the car, which we’ll explain below. For regular use in moderate temperatures, what’s listed in your owner’s manual is fine. Always choose an oil from a brand that displays the starburst symbol that indicates the oil has been tested by the American Petroleum Institute (API).

You’ll also notice a two-character service designation on the container. API's latest service standards are SP for gasoline engines and CK-4 for diesels. These letters are based on a group of laboratory and engine tests that determine the oil’s ability to protect the engine from wear and high-temperature deposits and sludge. API has a full list of these standards here in case you’re curious, but make sure you’re buying an oil that’s been tested under a current standard. As of this writing, that includes SP, SN, SM, SL and SJ for gasoline engines and CK-4, CJ-4, CI-4, CH-4 and FA-4 for diesels.

Those are the basics, but there's a whole lot more to the story than that.

Pennzoil Ultra Platinum Full Synthetic Motor Oil 5W-30

Pennzoil Pennzoil Ultra Platinum Full Synthetic Motor Oil 5W-30

Valvoline High Mileage with MaxLife, 10W-30 Synthetic Oil

Valvoline Valvoline High Mileage with MaxLife, 10W-30 Synthetic Oil

Castrol 03093 GTX 10W-30 Motor Oil, 5 Quart

Castrol Castrol 03093 GTX 10W-30 Motor Oil, 5 Quart

Rotella T6 Synthetic Diesel Motor Oil 5W-40 CJ-4

Shell Rotella T Rotella T6 Synthetic Diesel Motor Oil 5W-40 CJ-4

Understand the labels.

Motor Oil Labels

These are the labels you'll find on every container of reputable motor oil. The API doughnut on the right tells you if the oil meets a current service rating. It also provides the SAE ( Society of Automotive Engineers ) viscosity number and tells you if the oil has passed the Resource Conserving test. The starburst symbol on the left indicates that the oil has passed the service tests listed in the other doughnut.

Viscosity refers to a fluid's resistance to flow. Most motor oils’ viscosity is rated based on how thick it is at zero degrees Fahrenheit (represented by the number preceding the W, which stands winter, as well as its thickness at 212 degrees (represented by the second number after the dash in the viscosity designation).

Motor oil becomes thinner and runnier as it heats up and thickens as it cools. Within reason, thicker oil generally maintains a better film of lubrication between moving parts and seals vital components of your engine better. With the right additives to help it resist thinning too much in the heat, an oil can be rated for one viscosity when cold and another viscosity when hot. The more resistant oil is to thinning, the higher the second number (10W-40 versus 10W-30, for example) will be, and that's good.

Meanwhile, in low temperatures, oil has to be resistant to excessive thickening so it can still flow properly to all the moving parts in your engine. Excessive thickness can make it more difficult to start the engine, which reduces fuel economy. If the oil is too thick, the engine requires more energy to turn the crankshaft, which is partly submerged in a bath of oil. A lower number is better before the W for cold-weather performance, so a 5W oil is typically what's recommended for winter use. However, synthetic oils can be formulated to flow even more easily when cold, so they are able to pass tests that meet the 0W rating.

Once the engine is running, the oil heats up, which is why a higher second number is especially important for extreme uses and hotter-running, more complicated engines.

Why So Many Oils?

oil for cars

Look in auto parts stores and you'll see oils labeled for all kinds of specific purposes: high-tech engines, new cars, higher-mileage vehicles, heavy-duty/off-road SUVs, and even cars from certain countries. You'll see a wide selection of viscosities.

If you read your owner's manual, you'll know what oil the vehicle’s manufacturer recommended to use when it was brand-new. The manual may include a reference to Energy Conserving or Resource Conserving oils, which means that the oil passed a fuel economy lab test against a reference oil. While that doesn’t always translate to better fuel economy, most leading brands have at least some viscosities that are labeled as such.

How to Choose Between Synthetic and Conventional Motor Oil

Premium Conventional Oil : This is the standard new-car oil. All leading brands have these oils, which are available in several viscosities and tested under the latest API service level. Automakers usually specify a 5W-20 or 5W-30 oil for colder temperatures, with a 10W-30 oil as optional for higher ambient temperatures. These three ratings cover most light-duty vehicles on the road. Even more important, though, is changing the oil and filter regularly. We recommend changing your oil every 4,000 miles or four months. The absolute minimum is twice a year. If your car has an electronic oil-change indicator on its instrument cluster, follow its guidance instead and be sure to reset it once your oil change is done.

Full Synthetic Oil : Oils made for high-tech engines or heavy-duty uses, be it a Ford F-150 that tows frequently or a Chevrolet Corvette with the latest supercharged LS engine, are full of synthetic additives . These oils’ labels indicate whether they’ve passed stringent special tests for superior, longer-lasting performance in all the critical areas, from viscosity index to protection against deposits. They flow better at low temperatures and maintain peak viscosity at high temperatures. So, why shouldn't everyone use them? These oils are expensive and not every engine needs them. There may even be some features that your engine needs that synthetic oils don't have. Again, follow the guidance in your owner's manual.

Synthetic Blend Oil : These have a dose of synthetic oil mixed with organic oil, and are formulated to provide protection for somewhat heavier engine loads and high temperatures. This generally means they're less volatile, so they evaporate far less, which reduces oil loss and increases fuel economy. These oils are popular with drivers of pickups or SUVs who want extra protection for activities that put more stress on the engine, such as hauling heavy loads. They're also much less expensive than full synthetics—sometimes just pennies more than a premium conventional oil.

Higher-Mileage Oil : Today's vehicles simply last longer. If you prefer to pay off your car and run the mileage well into the six figures, you have another oil choice:, oils formulated for higher-mileage vehicles. Almost two-thirds of the vehicles on the road have more than 75,000 miles on the odometer. Consequently, oil companies identified this as an area of customer interest, and have new oils they're recommending for these vehicles.

When your vehicle is somewhat older and has considerably more mileage, you may notice a few oil stains on the garage floor. Engine seals such as those around the crankshaft may have hardened and lost their flexibility, so they leak and may crack, especially at lower temperatures. You’ll need to check your oil levels more frequently and may need to top off your oil between oil changes.

Higher-mileage oils are formulated with conditioners that flow into the pores of the engine seals to restore their shape and increase their flexibility. Most rubber seals are designed to swell just enough to stop leaks, and oil refiners pick their "reswelling" ingredients carefully. Valvoline showed us the performance data of one of their seal conditioners that caused most seal materials to swell while reducing the swelling of one seal material that tended to expand too much from the ingredients found in some other engine oils.

You also may have noticed some loss of performance and engine smoothness due to engine wear on your higher-mileage vehicle. These higher-mileage oils also have somewhat higher viscosities. Even if the numbers on the container don't indicate it, there's a fairly wide range for each viscosity rating and the higher-mileage oils sit at the top of each range. They may also have additives to improve their viscosity index. The result? They seal your pistons better against their cylinder walls and won't leak as much through larger engine bearing clearances that have worn down with time. They also may have a higher dose of antiwear additives to try to slow that wear process.

If you have an older vehicle, these features may mean more to you than what you might get from a full synthetic at a fraction the price.

Going Deeper

oil for cars

An oil’s resistance to thinning in hotter temperatures is called the viscosity index. Although a higher second number is good, the oil also has to be robust , lasting for thousands of miles until the next oil change. Oil tends to lose viscosity from shear, which is the sliding motion in the tight clearances between metal surfaces,such as those found in bearings. So, resistance to viscosity loss—called shear stability—is necessary to enable the oil to maintain the lubricating film between those parts.

Unlike antifreeze , 95 percent of which is made up of one base chemical (typically ethylene glycol), petroleum-based engine oil contains a mixture of several different types of base oils—some of which are more expensive than others. Oil companies typically pick from a selection of five groups, each of which is produced in a different way and in different viscosities. The more expensive groups are more highly processed, in some cases with methods that produce a lubricant that can be classified as a synthetic. The so-called full synthetics contain chemicals that may be derived from petroleum but are so altered that they're not considered natural oil anymore. For example, one custom blend contained 10 percent polyalphaolefins (PAO), which is the most common type of chemical used as the primary ingredient in a full synthetic oil.

The base oil package in any oil makes up anywhere from 70 to 95 percent of the mix; and the rest is composed of additives. An oil with just 70 percent base oils isn’t necessarily better than one with 95 percent base oils. Some base oils have natural characteristics or ones that derive from their processing, which reduce or eliminate the need for additives. Although some additives make improvements lubrication, they don't necessarily have great lubricity on their own.

The ingredients in an additive package differ in cost, but price is just one factor. Some additives work better in certain combinations of base oils. Likewise, some less expensive base oils are a good choice for a blend because of the way they perform with popular additives. Bottom line: Every motor oil has a recipe. Refiners come up with a list of objectives based on the needs of their customers (including the carmakers themselves) and formulate oils to meet those goals as best they can.

Keeping an oil from thinning as it gets hot while it takes a beating from engine operation is one thing, but it's also important to keep oil from becoming too thick. Using less volatile premium base oils to prevent evaporation is one approach. Evaporation of the base oil package not only increases oil consumption—it results in thicker oil, which decreases fuel economy.

Oil Additives

Oil companies’ use of additives is another approach to improving and maintaining oil performance. High engine temperatures combine with moisture, combustion byproducts (such as unburned gasoline), rust, corrosion, engine-wear particles and oxygen to produce sludge and varnish, which can gum up and damage the engine. Additives help maintain good lubrication by minimizing sludge and varnish. Here are the main categories of additive ingredients and why they're important:

• Viscosity-index improvers : These reduce the oil's tendency to thin with increasing temperature.

• Detergents : Unlike the kind you use to wash clothes, detergents in oil don't scrub engine surfaces. They do remove some deposits—primarily solids. However, their main purpose is to keep surfaces clean by inhibiting the formation of high-temperature deposits, rust, and corrosion.

• Dispersants : These disperse solid particles by keeping them in a solution so they don't come together to form sludge, varnish or acids. Some additives work both as detergents and dispersants.

• Antiwear agents : Sometimes the lubricating film created by oil breaks down, so antiwear agents have to protect the metal surfaces. A zinc and phosphorus compound called ZDDP is a long-used favorite, along with other phosphorus (and sulphur) compounds. If you must know, ZDDP stands for zinc dialkyl dithiophosphate.

• Friction modifiers : These aren't the same as antiwear agents. They reduce engine friction and thus, can improve fuel economy. Graphite, molybdenum and other compounds are used for this.

• Pour-point depressants : Just because a 0 degrees Fahrenheit viscosity rating is low doesn't mean that oil will flow readily at low temperatures. Oil contains wax particles that can congeal and reduce flow, so these additives are used to keep it flowing in the cold.

Antioxidants : With tighter emissions regulations resulting in higher engine temperatures, antioxidants are needed to prevent oxidation that thickens the oil. Some of the additives that perform other functions also serve this purpose, such as the antiwear agents.

• Foam inhibitors : The crankshaft whipping through the oil in the oil pan causes oil to foam. Oil foam is not as effective a lubricant as a liquid stream, so oils have foam inhibitors that cause the foam bubbles to collapse.

• Rust or corrosion inhibitors : These protect metal parts from acids and moisture.

More Is Not Better

You can't necessarily improve an oil by putting in more additives. In fact, you can make things worse. For example, sulphur compounds have antiwear and antioxidation characteristics, but they can reduce fuel economy and reduce the effectiveness of your catalytic converter. Too much of a specific dispersant can affect catalyst performance and reduce fuel economy. Antiwear and friction-reducing additives also may have ingredients that could affect catalyst performance, such as sulphur, which companies are being pressured to use less. Adding tToo much of some detergents can also affect antiwear characteristics.

Don't Forget the Filter

Oil filters are a completely different,albeit related, subject when it comes to changing your oil. Again, it's always best to consult your owner’s manual for the type of filter required. Some aftermarket filters are larger, so make sure you have some extra oil if you use one.

FRAM Extra Guard Spin-On Oil Filter

Fram FRAM Extra Guard Spin-On Oil Filter

Bosch 3323 Premium Oil Filter

Bosch Bosch 3323 Premium Oil Filter

Motorcraft FL-820-S Oil Filter

Motorcraft Motorcraft FL-820-S Oil Filter

Headshot of Stef Schrader

Stef Schrader routinely breaks and attempts to take project cars on race tracks. She enjoys fancy cheeses, good coffee, fast Porsches, traveling to new places and rare, weird cars. She lives with a large collection of Fisher-Price Puffalumps and an overloaded parts shed.

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Keeping your engine oil topped up is crucial to keeping your engine performing. The oil in your car’s engine helps to keep the moving parts running smoothly, dragging away any debris and protecting against damage. Your oil works hard, and over time can evaporate, drip away or lose its effectiveness.You should check your oil levels regularly and top it up when needed, it should also be changed regularly - as often as every year.

It can be confusing to know what kind of oil you need, whether it’s part-or fully synthetic and what viscosity. If you know the difference between 5w30 oil and 10w40 oil, then you’ll find everything online. If you need some help, supply a few details and our oil finder tool will select the right oil for your car. You can also learn more about moto oil in our essential car oil buyer’s guide. It’s also worth checking your owner’s manual (if you can remember where to find it!).

A DIY oil change is a pretty simple job for the home mechanic. If you do choose to do it yourself, make sure to capture the used oil4 and dispose of it safely. If it’s easier - or you don’t want to get your hands dirty - drop in to your nearest Halfords and take advantage of our oil check and top-up service. For just £5 we’ll check your oil and top it up if necessary.

Engine oil is a bulky buy, but we’ll deliver it to you for free if your total basket is over £40. You’ll find plenty of car accessories and other essential oils and fluids that you’ll need to keep your car purring.

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Valvoline Advanced Full Synthetic SAE 5W-30 Motor Oil 5 QT

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Valvoline Advanced Full Synthetic SAE 5W-30 Motor Oil 5 QT

1 QT, Case of 6

5 QT, Case of 3

32 Fl Oz (Pack of 1)

5 QT (Pack of 2)

Viscosity 5W-30
Brand Valvoline
Vehicle Service Type Car, Truck
Flash Point 394 Degrees Fahrenheit
UPC 074130009509 074130032125
Liquid Volume
5 Quarts
Package Information

About this item

  • Advanced protection against the four main causes of engine breakdown: wear friction heat and deposits
  • 40% better wear protection vs. industry standards as tested in the Sequence IVB engine test
  • 25% better deposit protection with superior engine cleaning detergents as tested in the GMOD engine test
  • Full synthetic formula offers 24X stronger protection against engine-killing contaminants than the leading full synthetic motor oil
  • Meets or exceeds all requirements of ILSAC GF-6A, API SP, API SN with SN Plus, API SN, GM dexos 1 Gen 3
  • American made and formulated, from the Original Motor Oil brand trusted for more than 150 years

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Valvoline European Vehicle Full Synthetic XL-III SAE 5W-30 Motor Oil 5 QT

From the brand

valvoline trusted

How did we get our start?

Valvoline was founded by Dr. John Ellis who formulated a petroleum-based lubricant in 1866 and trademarked the Valvoline name in 1873.

What makes our products unique?

A higher standard. We’re the only motor oil brand with a dedicated engine lab where we apply hands-on expertise to create and test solutions you can feel confident in.

Why do we love what we do?

We're proud to be The Original. The first to see potential in things others overlook. Originals move the world forward. And we'll keep inventing the way forward to always meet your needs - today and in the future.

Valvoline Extended Protection SAE 5W-30 Full Synthetic Motor Oil 5 QT

Full Synthetic Motor Oils

Valvoline Logo

As The Original, we’re always innovating to solve your automotive challenges. Superior motor oils, coolants, fluids and even batteries. And we’ll keep developing mobility solutions that are proven to maximize engine life and improve overall vehicle performance.

Valvoline Multi-Vehicle 50/50 Prediluted Ready-to-Use Antifreeze/Coolant 1 GA, Light Yellow/Green.

Multi-Vehicle Solutions

nissan altimaniac

We introduced motor oil & we’ve been reinventing it ever since. The first high mileage oil. The first racing oil. The first synthetic blend. We’ve been trusted for over 150 years, so you can feel confident that we’ll find original solutions for every challenge.

From the manufacturer

advanced full synthetic motor oil from valvoline the original motor oil brand

Valvoline Advanced Full Synthetic Motor Oil

advanced full synthetic motor oil by valvoline being poured into a jeep engine

Protect Critical Engine Parts in Everyday Driving

Severe driving happens more often than you think. In fact, it’s often the everyday driving trips like a quick trip to the store or commuting to work that actually have a severe effect on your engine. During short trips or excessive idling, lesser motor oils can't handle the large temperature fluctuation that happens inside your engine. This can lead to sludge and deposits that harm your valves, fuel injectors and piston rings. That’s why just any motor oil won’t do. Valvoline Advanced Full Synthetic coats and protects all those critical engine parts, and is proven to provide 40% better wear protection than industry standards.

valvoline full synthetic motor oil being poured into an engine

40% Better Protection Against Wear

Our Valvoline Advanced Full Synthetic Motor Oil has additional boosters to minimize the effects of heat. At higher temperatures, you get thinner oil that can cause more wear as the high spots on the metal surfaces can break through the layer of oil and rub against each other. That causes valvetrain wear, timing chain wear, and bearing wear, among other problems. Our full synthetic oil is combined with the right additives to minimize these problems, reducing wear by 40 percent in the ILSAC GF-5 test. With less wear, your engine is going to last longer. Not only that, it will make it run better and result in better fuel economy.

valvoline advanced full synthetic motor oil is 24 times stronger than the leading synthetic.

24X Stronger Protection Than the Leading Synthetic Motor Oil

Rust & corrosion can wear down essential engine parts and shorten the life of your car. We tested Valvoline Full Synthetic Motor Oil side-by-side against the leading synthetic (and certified with a 3rd party). Valvoline provides superior protection by surrounding water molecules, preventing them from separating and threating the engine. Protect your car with the motor oil Proven to Maximize Engine Life, Valvoline Full Synthetic Motor Oil.

Customer Reviews
Price $26.67$26.67 $28.97$28.97 $26.97$26.97
Type Full Synthetic Premium Full Synthetic Full Synthetic Premium Full Synthetic Full Synthetic
Grades Available 0W-16, 0W-20, 10W-30, 20W-50, 5W-20, 5W-30 0W-20, 5W-20, 5W-30 0W-20, 0W-30, 0W-40, 5W-30, 5W-40, 5W-30 XL-III 0W-20, 5W-20, 5W-30 0W-20, 10W-30, 5W-20, 5W-30
Mileage Less than 75,000 miles Less than 75,000 miles All mileage More than 75,000 miles More than 75,000 miles

Product Description

Anything a conventional motor oil can do Valvoline Advanced Full Synthetic can do better. Designed with the highest quality base oils and additives, it delivers 25% better deposit protection and 40% better protection against wear than industry standards. With less wear, you can expect stronger performance, optimal fuel efficiency, and a longer-lasting engine. Driving conditions like short trips or stop-and-go traffic are hard on a vehicle and the car’s engine oil, causing extreme heat and temperature fluctuations inside your motor that can lead to harmful sludge and extra friction. Valvoline Advanced Full Synthetic Motor Oil includes additional boosters to minimize the effects of heat. And for enhanced cold start protection, it flows easily at low temperatures. Step up to one of our best motor oils for superior performance in all types of weather and conditions. GM dexos 1 Gen3 certified and approved in SAE 0W-20 and 5W-30, Valvoline Advanced Full Synthetic Motor Oil provides 24X stronger protection against engine-killing contaminants than the leading full synthetic, keeping your motor running smooth whether it’s a Ford, Toyota, Dodge, Jeep or Honda. Valvoline Advanced Full Synthetic, from the Original Motor Oil brand trusted for more than 150 years.

Product information

Technical details.

Viscosity ‎5W-30
Brand ‎Valvoline
Vehicle Service Type ‎Car, Truck
Flash Point ‎394 Degrees Fahrenheit
UPC ‎074130009509 074130032125
Global Trade Identification Number ‎00074130032125
Manufacturer ‎Valvoline
Model ‎787007
Item Weight ‎9 pounds
Product Dimensions ‎8.22 x 4.6 x 12.66 inches
Item model number ‎881164
Is Discontinued By Manufacturer ‎No
Manufacturer Part Number ‎881164
OEM Part Number ‎881164
Special Features ‎ADVANCED PROTECTION AGAINST the four main causes of engine breakdown: wear friction heat and deposits

Additional Information

Customer Reviews
4.8 out of 5 stars
Best Sellers Rank #95 in Automotive ( )
#6 in
Date First Available November 27, 2013

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Customers say

Customers like the ease of pouring, ease of use, and quality of the auto oil. They mention that it pours very predictably, and is easy to add. They also like the appearance and efficiency. However, some customers have reported issues with the oil quality, saying that it arrived half spilled.

AI-generated from the text of customer reviews

Customers are satisfied with the quality of the auto oil. For example, they mention it's well-regarded, works well, and has an excellent rating. Some say that it has no issues with mileage or performance.

"As far as I’m concerned, this is real good oil ...." Read more

"This came packed well, in it's plastic bag and it came with a top protector ..." Read more

"Used this for a while in my car and it works well ." Read more

"Looks not bad, not expensive , all good" Read more

Customers are satisfied with the efficiency of the auto oil. They mention that it lubricates their car and helps the engine run smoothly. They say that it improves mileage right away, and that it enhances the performance and fuel economy. Customers also say that the acceleration on their Crosstrek felt noticeably improved.

"...I’ve been using it in my cars. I have noticed my older Camry seems to idle more smoothly . The fuel injectors may have cleaned up a little bit...." Read more

"...they are full synthetic oil and has excellent rating then it is good for my car ...." Read more

"...surprisingly though, I noticed that even when warm, that my car now coasts longer and doesn't jerk back as much when abruptly letting off the gas..." Read more

"...It's great and makes the engine run smoothly ." Read more

Customers like the ease of use of the auto oil. They mention it's simple, convenient, and easy to add to the engine. Some say it makes for easy starting of the snowblower in cold climate regions.

"I buy this oil for my lawn mower.it is easy to use .runs clean.I feel it’s a good value for the price" Read more

" very easy to read and fill car, keep it coming" Read more

" Very easy to use " Read more

" Simple the best ." Read more

Customers like the ease of pouring. They mention that the auto oil comes in a nice jug with an easy-to-pour lid. The spout is set it makes it super easy to pour without spilling or making a mess. They appreciate the saucer like pouring lip and easy to open pull.

" Easy pour " Read more

"...After the oil change, I immediately noticed several things: The car starts easier , especially in cold weather...." Read more

"Came in a nice jug.. Seemed to pour easy ,hope it don't burn fast?" Read more

"...The size of the pour hole is way too big. Makes filling very difficult and always have to use a funnel...." Read more

Customers are satisfied with the appearance of the auto oil. They mention that it comes out looking very good, the bottle design is good, and the pour spout design is the best they've ever seen. Some appreciate the unique bottle shape. Overall, most are happy with the quality and performance of the product.

" Looks not bad , not expensive, all good" Read more

"Boxes with items shipped was in perfect condition. Purchased items were in perfect shape . Everything checked just like new." Read more

"...The jug also has a contoured pour spout lip . So it pours very predictably. Overall an excellent product" Read more

"...on it now, and at 5k mile change intervals this oil still comes out looking very good ...." Read more

Customers like the sound of the auto oil. They mention that it helps quiet down valve and lifter noise, keeps the engine humming, and makes it sound new again. Some say that the oil starts easier and makes the engine calm.

"...I don't know if it's placebo, but I believe my engine has gradually gotten quieter with this oil as well...." Read more

"...Then I noticed a tick in one car. Changed it to Valvoline and the tick was quieter . I also noticed better MPG using Valvoline...." Read more

"...it on my 2019 Infiniti Q50 3.0tt RWD 5W30 I love it how I no longer hear the timing chain when I first start the car...." Read more

"...increase in acceleration smoothness, less arduous starts with no turbo noise , and a smoother idle...." Read more

Customers like the lubrication of the auto oil. They mention it lubrifies their car and helps the engine run smoothly. They also say the brand produces some of the best lubes in the world. Customers also say it has good viscosity and is a suitable additive to lubre engine parts in cars, lawnmowers, and snowblowers.

"...or performance and at the oil change, we noticed the oil still had good viscosity . This is a much better price than parts stores." Read more

"...4. Oil viscosity is maintained between changes which it's the critical aspect in operation.5...." Read more

"Engine sounds like poopoo compared to other brands. Lacks constant lubrication ." Read more

"...It definitely has the viscosity ." Read more

Customers are dissatisfied with the quality of the auto oil. They mention that it leaks everywhere, has no seal within the cap, and is really oily. Some say that the product arrived half spilled.

"As described. No leaks in my order ." Read more

"It’s great to have 6 quarts but felt like not enough oil filled up . It was slightly less of oil...." Read more

"Arrived in a garbage bag leaking oil a lot of oil the box was saturated with oil ." Read more

"...I ended up using the oil when it arrived but it had lost a whole quart of oil during shipping." Read more

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The Best Conventional Motor Oils

Jason Siu

Shopping for engine oil can be daunting, with numerous brands and options available in today’s marketplace. How do you choose from all the different companies offering motor oil when they all sound the same? Well, truth be told, most reputable brands will offer similar products, and in the case of this list, you really can’t go wrong with any of the options. Some oils are better quality than others, offering more performance and working harder to keep your engine clean. But many would argue that the general consumer won’t even notice the difference between Quaker State or Pennzoil. In fact, there have been studies conducted that show most oil brands have similar products.

In this article, we’ll take a look at the best motor coils available—but only conventional motor oils. If you’re searching for the best synthetic motor oils, click here . Conventional motor oil is generally the most affordable engine oil you can purchase and offers basic protection for most engines. Generally, the majority of automakers will use conventional motor oil in a vehicle when it rolls off the assembly line for the break-in period, after which some owners will upgrade to semi-synthetic or fully synthetic oil. But for most ordinary drivers, conventional motor oil is sufficient in maintaining your engine’s performance and life.

Where the performance of conventional motor oils suffer compared to synthetic oils is in extreme temperatures, and you’ll need to do more frequent oil changes. Ever heard that your car’s oil should be changed every 3,000 miles? That’s likely because it uses conventional motor oil.

We’ll detail more information you need to know about conventional motor oil after our product suggestions. For more information on the top 10 best motor oils, refer to our table of contents.

Table of contents

  • 1. Editor's Pick: Castrol GTX Motor Oil

2. Valvoline Daily Protection Motor Oil

3. quaker state advanced durability motor oil, 4. amazonbasics motor oil, 5. havoline motor oil, 6. pennzoil motor oil.

  • 7. Lucas Oil Hot Rod & Classic Motor Oil

8. Formula Shell Motor Oil

9. stp motor oil, 10. acdelco professional motor oil, why is motor oil important, what are all these numbers and letters, how to change your car's engine oil: a breakdown by kshitij sharma, tools required, the procedure, recent updates, 1. editor's pick: castrol gtx motor oil.

motorboat engine oil

A premium conventional motor oil that has been around since the late 1960s, Castrol GTX is our top pick due to its reputation, price, and overall popularity even on Amazon. This motor oil is designed to offer superior protection against engine sludge (as measured in the Sequence VG Sludge Test), along with advanced protection against viscosity and thermal breakdown. It's formulated with premium quality base oils and anti-wear additives that help extend the life of your engine.

Castrol GTX is available as a 6 pack of 1-quart bottles, a 5-quart jug, 3 pack of 5-quart jugs, and a 6-gallon bottle. Choose from 10W-30 or 10W-40 viscosities. You can also choose from High Mileage, Synthetic, and High Mileage Synthetic options as part of Castrol's GTX lineup.

Product features:

  • Extremely popular and reputable brand
  • Superior protection against sludge—as measured in the Sequence VG Sludge Test
  • Advanced protection against viscosity and thermal breakdown
  • Formulated with premium quality base oils and anti-wear additives
  • Helps extend the life of your engine
  • Available in (6) 1-quart bottles, 5-quart jug, (3) 5-quart jugs, 6-gallon bottle
  • 10W-30 and 10W-40 viscosities

motorboat engine oil

Formulated with advanced additives for year-round engine protection is Valvoline's Premium Conventional Motor Oil. The company's lineup of motor oils is available in multiple viscosities: 10W-30, 10W-40, 20W-50, SAE 30, SAE 40, and SAE 50. Amazon offers Valvoline's conventional motor oil in single units of 1- or 5-quart bottles, a 6 pack of 1-quart bottles, or a 3 pack of 5-quart bottles.

Valvoline uses added detergents to help protect against sludge and deposits, while high quality additives resist motor oil breakdown in tough conditions. The company's conventional motor oil meets the API SN Plus classification, protecting engines from Low Speed Pre-Ignition (LSPI).

In addition, each bottle features trademarked Easy Pull Tab, Precision Pour Spout, and Anti-Glug Tube.

  • Available in multiple viscosities: 10W-30, 10W-40, 20W-50, SAE 30, SAE 40, and SAE 50
  • Select from single units of 1- or 5-quart bottles, (6) pack of 1-quart bottles, or (3) pack of 5-quart bottles
  • Added detergents to protect against sludge and deposits
  • High quality additives resist motor oil breakdown
  • Meets API SN Plus classification
  • Trademark features: Easy Pull Tab, Precision Pour Spout, and Anti-Glug Tube

motorboat engine oil

Quaker State's conventional motor oil is part of its Advanced Durability lineup and is available in a single 5-quart bottle, a 6 pack of 1-quart bottles, or a 3 pack of 5-quart bottles. Designed to protect against corrosion, Quaker State's Advanced Durability conventional motor oil contains acid-neutralizing additives to stop combustion acids from damaging your engine. Formulated to meet the fuel economy requirements of the GF-5 Industry standard, this oil meets or exceeds North American warranty requirements for worldwide automakers.

This oil will maintain viscosity grade from start to finish, giving your engine optimal protection so it can survive daily commutes, from sustained high-speed highway operation to repetitive stop-and-go traffic.

  • Available in (1) 5-quart bottle, (6) 1-quart bottles, or (3) 5-quart bottles
  • Designed to protect against corrosion
  • Acid-neutralizing additives stop combustion acids from damaging the engine
  • Maintains viscosity grade from start to finish
  • Meets fuel economy requirements of the GF-5 Industry standard
  • Meets or exceeds North American warranty requirements for worldwide automakers

motorboat engine oil

AmazonBasics may not be a well-known brand when it comes to the automotive industry, but in recent years, Amazon's own line of products has expanded at a rapid pace to all types of markets. This conventional motor oil is available in 0W-20, 0W-40, 5W-20, 5W-30, 5W-40, 10W-30, 10W-40, and 20W-50 viscosities. It can be purchased in a 1-gallon jug, a 5-quart bottle, or a 6 pack of 1-quart bottles.

Formulated to keep engines properly lubricated and protected, this affordable option is API SN and ILSAC GF-5 approved. It's designed to help prevent buildup that can cause rust and corrosion, AmazonBasics' conventional motor oil reduces friction for less engine wear. The oil has high resistance to viscosity and thermal breakdown, while also helping reduce exhaust emissions.

AmazonBasics' conventional motor oil is manufactured by Warren Distribution, Inc., which is North America's largest manufacturer of private label lubricants.

  • Affordable, like all AmazonBasics products
  • Available in 0W-20, 0W-40, 5W-20, 5W-30, 5W-40, 10W-30, 10W-40, and 20W-50 viscosities
  • Select from 1-gallon, 5-quart, or (6) 1-quart bottles
  • API SN and ILSAC GF-5 approved
  • Keeps engines properly lubricated and protected
  • Prevents buildup that can cause rust and corrosion
  • Reduces friction for less engine wear
  • High resistance to viscosity and thermal breakdown
  • Helps reduce exhaust emissions
  • Manufactured by Warren Distribution, Inc.

motorboat engine oil

Havoline's conventional motor oil features Deposit Shield Technology, which the company says protects against deposit and sludge formation, while providing excellent protection of critical engine parts. This oil works to shield against thermal breakdown, while cleaning the engine and positive crankcase ventilation systems to minimize deposit formations under heavy load and stop-and-go traffic. Like other oils on our list, Havoline's conventional offering meets or exceeds warranty requirements of automakers that rely on an API SN motor oil.

All grades of Havoline's conventional motor oils are formulated with high quality base stocks and contain detergent, dispersant, wear control, antioxidant, corrosion inhibitor, and foam suppressant additives. A high level of dispersancy protects against deposit and sludge formation from constant traffic and sustained high temperature operation.

This oil is available in a 5-quart jug and can also be purchased in a pack of 3. Our link below takes you to the 5W-30 variant.

  • Available in a 5-quart jug or (3) 5-quart jugs
  • Deposit Shield Technology protects against deposit and sludge formation
  • Works to protect against thermal breakdown
  • Cleans the engine and positive crankcase ventilation systems
  • Meets or exceeds warranty requirements that rely on an API SN motor oil
  • Formulated with high quality base stocks
  • Contains detergent, dispersant, wear control, antioxidant, corrosion inhibitor, and foam suppressant additives
  • High level of dispersancy protects against deposit and sludge formation

motorboat engine oil

From Pennzoil is its conventional motor oil that promises to clean up to 40% of engine sludge in the first oil change. It'll of course continue to clean on the second and subsequent changes, by gently lifting sludge deposits off engine surfaces and dissolving them safely into the oil. In addition, Pennzoil's formula controls high temperature oxidation and deposits, while offering enhanced emission system protection compared to GF-4 and earlier service categories.

Formulated with Active Cleansing Agents, this oil will continuously work to prevent dirt and contaminants from turning into performance-robbing deposits. It meets or exceeds requirements of ILSAC GF-5, API SN Plus, API SN and all previous categories, as well as Chrysler MS-6395.

All of Pennzoil's products are backed by the Pennzoil Lubrication Limited Warranty, offering coverage up to 300,000 miles or 10 years (whichever is first) if you exclusively use Pennzoil Platinum, Pennzoil Gold, Pennzoil High Mileage, or Pennzoil motor oil. The warranty covers 15 critical engine parts and is customized for each driver's specific OEM recommended oil change schedule.

  • Cleans up to 40% of engine sludge in first oil change
  • Gently lifts sludge deposits off engine surfaces and dissolves them safely into the oil
  • Controls high temperature oxidation and deposits
  • Enhanced emission system protection
  • Formulated with Active Cleansing Agents
  • Meets or exceeds requirements of ILSAC GF-5, API SN Plus, API SN and all previous categories, as well as Chrysler MS-6395
  • Backed by Pennzoil Lubrication Limited Warranty

7. Lucas Oil Hot Rod & Classic Motor Oil

motorboat engine oil

Lucas Oil has a wide lineup of offerings, but one of its most popular conventional motor oils is this Hot Rod & Classic Motor Oil. Of course if you're not running a hot rod or classic, look at other oils Lucas Oil has to offer. Available in a 5-quart jug, this oil contains high levels of ZDDP (Zinc) that is necessary to protect flat tappet cams, lifters, and pushrods. Designed to provide excellent thermal stability in case of overheating, this oil contains special Lucas additives that protect against rust, corrosion, and dry starts that occur when a vehicle sits unused for a long period of time.

This oil is available in 10W-30, 10W-40, and 20W-50 and our link below will take you to the 10W-30 variant, but search if you'd like a different viscosity.

  • Specially formulated for hot rod and classic cars
  • Available in 10W-30, 10W-40, and 20W-50 in 5-quart jug
  • Contains high levels of ZDDP (Zinc) to protect flat tappet cams, lifters, and pushrods
  • Provides excellent thermal stability
  • Lucas additives protect against rust, corrosion, and dry starts

motorboat engine oil

Formula Shell's conventional motor oil is designed to offer protection against harmful deposits and acids, helping keep your engine run clean for a long time. This oil is formulated to improve fuel economy and works to provide protection against extremely high temperatures. If your car is equipped with a turbocharged engine, Formula Shell's oil also helps protect against low-speed pre-ignition. It's safe to use at anytime in an engine's life cycle and is fully compatible with conventional engine oils.

Formula Shell's conventional motor oil is available in 5W-20, 10W-30, 10W-40, and 20W-50 options, in either a 5-quart jug or a dozen 1-quart bottles.

  • Available in 5W-20, 10W-30, 10W-40, and 20W-50 viscosities
  • Select from (12) 1-quart bottles or a 5-quart jug
  • Offers protection for extremely high temperatures
  • Formulated to improve fuel economy
  • Fights harmful deposits and acids
  • Protects against low-speed pre-ignition on modern turbocharged engines
  • Can be used anytime in an engine's life cycle

motorboat engine oil

STP may not be as popular of a brand as Pennzoil or Quaker State, but it still offers an affordable, quality oil. Scientifically formulated to insulate your engine from wear and tear, this conventional motor oil controls sludge formation while cleaning vital engine components. Offering protection against rust and corrosion, STP says its oil helps reduce engine wear while maintaining fuel economy. The bottle also features a wider spout that makes it easier to pour.

Amazon offers half a dozen of 1-quart bottles in 5W-30 at an affordable price, which is the link below. If you need a different viscosity or lower quantity, be sure to search on the site.

  • Affordable 6 pack of 1-quart bottles
  • Formulated to insulate your engine from wear and tear
  • Controls sludge formation
  • Cleans key engine components
  • Protects against rust and corrosion
  • Helps maintain fuel economy
  • Wider spout makes it easier to pour

motorboat engine oil

ACDelco is General Motors' Original Equipment parts brand and is responsible for producing over 90,000 GM OE and other parts. This conventional motor oil meets U.S. standards for API SN service classification, along with meeting and exceeding ILSAC GF-5 energy conserving performance standards. Not surprisingly, it also meets manufacturers' warranty requirements for passenger car and light-duty trucks. Formulated with a premium mineral-based solution, this oil protects against high temperature deposits, as well as the formation of sludge and varnish deposits to keep your engine running clean. It also provides engine cleanliness by controlling thermal breakdown under normal driving conditions.

  • GM's OE parts brand
  • Meets U.S. standards for API SN, meets and exceeds ILSAC GF-5, meets manufacturers' warranty requirements
  • Formulated with a premium mineral-based solution
  • Protects against high temperature deposits, formation of sludge and varnish deposits
  • Controls thermal breakdown

Unless you own an electric vehicle, your car's engine needs oil. Its main and most important function is to prevent friction inside your engine, since it's full of moving parts. Motor oil is essential to keep these parts lubricated so they work as efficiently as they were designed to function. And where there's friction, there's heat—which is also bad for an engine. Ever heard of overheating or even frying an engine? That's because the oil—of lack of it—wasn't doing its job.

In addition to preventing friction and heat buildup within your engine, quality motor oil will keep your engine clean by preventing rust, corrosion, and oxidation.

When you're shopping for motor oil, you'll notice they're offered in different viscosities, which by definition is "a quantity expressing the magnitude of internal friction, as measured by the force per unit area resisting a flow in which parallel layers unit distance apart have unit speed relative to one another." That probably just made it more confusing.

Simply put, motor oils have an SAE (Society of Automotive Engineers) rating that explains the viscosity of the engine oil—how thin or thick it is. So let's breakdown what the SAE rating actually means.

Let's start by looking at a popular oil choice, 10W-30. The first set of numbers and letters (10W), means that particular oil has a viscosity grade of 10 when tested at colder temperatures. The "W" standards for winter. The following number after the dash is the viscosity grade of the oil when an engine's temperature is at 212ºF. If you live in an area that doesn't have extremely cold temperatures, you may not care about your oil's performance in the cold. And that's where oils that just say SAE 30 or SAE 50 come into play. Those oils have not been tested in cold temperatures.

If you do live in an area that experiences cold temperatures, you'll want an engine oil with low W viscosity. Low viscosity oil is recommended for cold starts, since the oil is thinner and can flow quicker through your engine.

the best conventional motor oils

Photo credit: Nejron Photo / Shutterstock.com

Alright, so social distancing in is full swing and you are doing your part to help the world recover from this crisis. Just before this all went down though, you were scheduled in for an oil change. And that is driving you a little crazy, because you love your car. Every drive you take, no matter how short, you're worried about damaging the engine since you couldn’t change the engine oil.

But don’t worry, we have you covered. Changing your car's engine oil is far from a daunting task. It is quite simple and doesn’t take too long either. You do need to be careful and follow a procedure though—mostly to avoid making a mess.

Before you begin, however, you will need to check which engine oil the manufacturer recommends. The information is usually given in the owner’s manual. If you already have the recommended engine oil, let’s begin.

the best conventional motor oils

Photo credit: Shutter Baby Photo / Shutterstock.com

Changing the engine oil is one of simplest processes when it comes to working on cars. If you want to start working on cars, changing the oil yourself is a good place to start.

You will need an oil pan, a socket wrench, latex gloves and a filter wrench. Though in some cases you can remove the filter by hand or by other hacks, we highly recommend you invest in the right tool. As for the socket wrench, the ⅜-inch is the most common size for the drain plug, though sizes can run between ¼-inch and ¾-inch.

Also, make sure you have the right oil filter for your car. The spin-on type is the most common oil filter. Plus, the location of the oil filter is given in the owner’s manual.

the best conventional motor oils

Photo credit: Fun Fun Photo / Shutterstock.com

There are two ways to go about changing the engine oil: the warm method and the cool method. The warm method is the more recommended one. You drive your car around the block a couple of times until the engine reaches the optimal temperature. Then park it on a level surface and let it cool for 10 to 15 minutes. This method thins the oil down so the flow is more uniform and the oil also gathers up all the minute impurities and debris them might be in the engine at the time.

The cool method is the one we recommend and is especially useful for old cars. It also beneficial as the car is not driven there is no leftover pressure between the filter and the sump so the flow is more controllable. And if it’s an old car, it is a great way to check for coolant leaks as well.

the best conventional motor oils

Photo credit: Nongasimo / Shutterstock.com

First, start off by parking your car on level ground. The sump is always tilted towards the drain plug to aid oil removal so you don’t need to place the car on a jack.

Next, place the oil pan underneath the drain plug. Make sure it is slightly off-center.

Undo the drain plug. If you are doing the cool method, get a small glass jar and let the initial oil drain into the jar. That way you can test if the coolant is leaking into the engine. The anti-freeze and water are typically heavier than oil and will settle at the drain plug and will drain out first.

Next, let the oil drain and get yourself a cup of coffee.

By the time you’re done with your coffee, the oil should’ve drained completely. The next step is to remove the oil filter.

Make sure you have ample grip and the wrench is snug before you turn it anti-clockwise to loosen the air filter. The oil will splash out so be prepared. And if you used the warm-up method, then the splash could be a bit more aggressive compared to the cold method.

Next, oil the seal of the new filter liberally with the new oil before screwing it back in. After the oil filter is in give it just a ¾ twist to tighten it. Do not over-tighten so you can easily remove it during the next oil change. Screw the drain plug back as well and follow the same procedure as the oil filter.

Now the final step, adding the oil into the engine. Pour about half in to the engine and then switch the car on for about five minutes. This helps the oil spread around and avoid overflow. Next pour in the rest, close the oil filler cap and you're done.

Finally, it is advisable that you drive the car for about 10 minutes before letting it rest for the rest of the day. Have fun.

December 22, 2021: Updated outdated product links.

October 13, 2021: Added additional product links.

August 4, 2021: Removed promoted product recommendation.

January 21, 2021: Updated with a promoted product recommendation.

We are committed to finding, researching, and recommending the best products. We earn commissions from purchases you make using the retail links in our product reviews. Learn more about how this works .

Main photo credit: Seasontime / Shutterstock.com

Jason Siu

Jason Siu began his career in automotive journalism in 2003 with Modified Magazine, a property previously held by VerticalScope. As the West Coast Editor, he played a pivotal role while also extending his expertise to Modified Luxury & Exotics and Modified Mustangs. Beyond his editorial work, Jason authored two notable Cartech books. His tenure at AutoGuide.com saw him immersed in the daily news cycle, yet his passion for hands-on evaluation led him to focus on testing and product reviews, offering well-rounded recommendations to AutoGuide readers. Currently, as the Content Director for VerticalScope, Jason spearheads the content strategy for an array of online publications, a role that has him at the helm of ensuring quality and consistency across the board.

More by Jason Siu

Join the conversation


Guy who drove 1964 Volvo p1800 using Castrol oils went 4 millions miles.will any heavy duty oil will works???????????.

Kevin Stonerock

This section discusses conventional motor oil. When an engine has used conventional all its life it doesnt do well switching to synthetic as I can attest to.

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  • Castrol Global


Not all motor oils are the same, but you may not know that at the outset. Learn how full synthetic engine oil compares vs conventional and synthetic blends.

Researchers with brand logs of different car oil types


Motor oils are formulated and marketed as conventional, full synthetic, synthetic blend, also referred to as semi synthetic or part synthetic.  What is the difference between them?  The difference lies in the type of base oils that are used in the formulation and this is what defines these motor oil categories.


The base oil used in a conventional motor oil is 100% mineral oil which is obtained through the refining of crude oil.  Here the crude oil is distilled and cleaned up to produce a high-quality base oil. This is done without substantial molecular changes being made to the hydrocarbons in the base oil during the process.   


A synthetic base oil is derived though the creation of new base oil components (synthesis) to produce a stronger performing base fluid. For a full synthetic motor oil 100% of the base oil composition contains these stronger synthesized base oil components.For synthetic blend motor oils the base oil composition is a combination of synthetic and conventional base oils.  There is no definition of how much synthetic needs to be included in a semi or part synthetic motor oil.  The use of synthetic base oil can substantially improve the performance of the motor oil. Synthetic base oils improve low temperature performance, provide higher thermal stability or heat resistance, possess better oil burn of performance or lower volatility, enable lighter viscosity motor oils such as 0W-20 to be formulated, and can help improve motor oil shear stability or the ability to resist viscosity breakdown.


The more synthetic base oil contained in a motor oil in general the better the performance.  In turn, a full synthetic motor oil formulated with a robust additive system will always be better than synthetic blends.  That said, a properly formulated synthetic blend can offer performance benefits over a conventional motor oil. 


Adding synthetic base oil to motor can produce a stronger motor oil due to the benefit of synthetics.  Depending upon the amount of synthetic in the base oil composition the synthetic blend motor oil can be more resistant to the various factors that can degrade a motor oil.  Castrol incorporates a material amount of synthetic in our part synthetic formulations to help improve oil burn off performance as well as low temperature flow.  That said a robust additive system is also critical to the overall performance of the motor oil.  Thus, one must consider both in judging performance.  While the incorporation of synthetic can produce stronger motor oils, Castrol always recommends that one follow the vehicle manufacturers recommendation for oil service and engine oil drain intervals.

Castrol Engine Oil Brands

Logo for Castrol Edge Fluid

Castrol EDGE

Logo for Castrol GTX Magnatec Fluid


Logo for Castrol GTX Fluid

Castrol® GTX®

Full synthetic motor oils.

Castrol Edge Oil Container

Castrol EDGE is an advanced full synthetic motor oil, engineered for drivers who want only the best from their engines.

Castrol Edge Extended Performance Oil Container


Castrol Edge Extended Performance provides unsurpassed protection for critical engine parts, ensuring optimal performance.

Castrol GTX full synthetic Oil Container

Castrol GTX Full Synthetic provides maximum protection to help extend engine life, so you get more miles of driving enjoyment from your car.

Castrol® EDGE® High Mileage Oil Container


Castrol® EDGE® High Mileage is an advanced full synthetic motor oil that is specifically designed for vehicles with over 75,000 miles

Synthetic Blend Oil

Castrol GTX High Mileage


Castrol® GTX® High Mileage Motor Oil has been liquid engineered specifically for vehicles with more than 75,000 miles on the odometer. Not only does it protect against sludge, wear and burn-off, it features Phosphorous Replacement Technology to help protect your car's emission system from catalytic converter failure.

Conventional Motor Oil

Castrol GTX Oil Container

Castrol GTX

Sludge can form in engine oilways, blocking them up to reduce power and engine life. Castrol® GTX® is a premium conventional motor oil that has been helping to extend engine life since 1968. It does so thanks to a double-action formula that cleans away old sludge and prevents new sludge from forming.

Castrol GTX Diesel container

Castrol GTX Diesel

Diesel engines are designed to last for more miles and deliver better mileage along the way. But they can only do that with regular oil changes and the right diesel oil formulation. Castrol® GTX® Diesel is liquid engineered to fight sludge, protect particulate filters and preserve engine efficiency.

Choosing (and Using) the Right Engine Oil

Synthetics additives and how long between oil changes.

motorboat engine oil

  • 2/29/2008 (updated 5/5/2009 )

Novice do-it-yourselfers are regularly overwhelmed by auto parts store shelves stocked to the ceiling with a rainbow of colored engine oil bottles. Even experienced folks can be confused by boastful but carefully hedged claims, newfangled certifications and confusing specifications. Also called motor oil, engine oil is one of the most complex, extensively tested and continuously improved components for your car. But it's also among the least understood. Here's the information to help you make the best choice.

The Short Story

For most, here's all you need to know: Buy a brand-name oil that exactly matches your vehicle manufacturer's specifications and certification requirements, and change your oil according to the carmaker's recommendations. That will allow your engine to offer maximum performance and last as long as possible. Disastrous consequences await those who deviate from the manufacturer's recommendations. Those who want more, read on.

Look for the API "starburst" and "donut." The center of the donut tells the thickness and temperature range of the oil: In this case 5W-30. Be careful of knock-offs that look similar.

Look for the API "starburst" and "donut." The center of the donut tells the thickness and temperature range of the oil: In this case 5W-30. Be careful of knock-offs that look similar.

Weight and Oil Viscosity

Oil is like pancake syrup. Without blending and additives, on cool days oil would be as thick (viscous) as Mrs. Butterworth's stored in the refrigerator. At high temperature, though, it would get uselessly thin, like microwaved syrup. Long ago, the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) developed a rating system for oil viscosity, the most basic of characteristics, which is often called weight. It's expressed by four or five characters, such as 10W-30. The lower the number before the W (for "winter"), the better it flows in cold temperatures. The number after the dash indicates how well the oil flows when it's warm. Higher numbers mean the oil is "heavier," or more viscous. Multi-viscosity oils developed several decades ago mean you don't have to worry about using different oils for winter and summer.

Don't select heavier-than-recommended oil in the mistaken belief it'll provide better protection. Old-timers are used to heavier oils, but many manufacturers currently specify light oil, such as 5W-20. One reason is that some modern engines have incredibly tight clearances between parts. Especially when the engine is cold, a heavier oil may not reach into these tight areas. The lighter oil also helps provide better fuel economy.


Quality oils carry up to three certifications from three different organizations. Your owner's manual will say which standard is required. These certifications indicate that the oil met the testing and content requirements of these organizations. The most well-known is the American Petroleum Institute's (API) "starburst" and "donut." In the center of the API circle is the SAE weight (e.g. 10W-30). The outer ring will say "API SERVICE" followed by two letters: "SM" has been the top API rating since 2004, and API says it'll work in all automotive gasoline engines. The previous standard — "SJ" — was for 2004 and earlier model years. If the service rating starts with a "C," it's for diesel engines.

American and Japanese automakers combined to create the International Lubricant Standardization and Approval Committee (ILSAC). Its current standard is GF-4. A new standard, GF-5, is scheduled for 2010. Finally, some European cars require oil certified by the European Automobile Manufacturers' Association (ACEA).

Why Oil Additives?

Without a myriad of additives, motor oil could not meet the demands of modern engines. Detergents in oil trap impurities. Polymers increase high-temperature performance. Molybdenum is now used instead of sulfur to decrease wear at high-friction points. Oil designed for high-mileage engines has seal conditioners to reduce oil leaks. And these are but a few of the engine oil additives.

Synthetic: Worth It?

The short answer: Modern synthetic engine oil offers more protection than conventional oil, can be safely mixed or interchanged with conventional oil and can extend oil-change intervals. However, unless you subject your vehicle to extreme conditions, synthetic may not be worth the extra cost: That makes blends of synthetic and conventional oil an attractive option.

Synthetic oil was first mass-produced during World War II by Germany, which had plenty of coal and methane gas but no petroleum. Since molecule chains can be made uniform and tailored for specific needs, synthetic oil proved ideal for jet aircraft engines. Recently, improved refining processes and a court decision have essentially eliminated the line between what some call "full synthetic" (polyalphaolifin or PAO), which is often made from ethylene, and oil synthesized from crude. If there is a difference in protection between the two, it's small.

How Long Between Changes?

Even the automakers can't agree on the correct oil-change interval. While 3,000 miles between oil changes has long been promoted as cheap insurance, some auto manufacturers and environmentalists are recommending 10,000 miles or longer. The full answer lies with how you drive. If you rarely drive farther than 10 miles at a time (which doesn't get the oil hot enough to boil off moisture condensation) or you start your car frequently when the oil isn't hot (which is when most engine wear occurs), you need to change oil more often: at least twice a year, even if that's every 1,000 miles. But if your daily commute is 20-plus miles of steady flatland freeway, don't be afraid to go as far as your vehicle maker recommends.

If you change your own oil, it's important to take the old oil to a recycling center — used motor oil is a significant contaminant to the ecosystem. Check Earth 911 for a recycling center near you. To learn how to do it yourself and save money, see "Change Your Oil."

If you don't change your own oil, make sure the technician removes the oil through the drain plug hole rather than sucking it out through the dipstick hole. Many believe the former removes more contaminants. The bottom line: Use the correct weight, properly certified motor oil and change it appropriately, and you can save your worries for something else.

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