Synthetic Vs. Mineral Oil

Automotive lubrication is a very important aspect of keeping the engine in 'top shape'. Synthetic and mineral oil types are prominently used for this lubrication. Read on this article to know more about this topic.
Most cars have a very smooth, well-engineered, well-timed, and accurate firing. The pistons of these cars not only keep them moving, but also add life and soul to them. But have you ever wondered what keeps the mechanism of the engine and pistons so smooth and gentle? The answer is the excellent lubrication that is provided by automotive oils, which are present in the engines. They are basically of two types: synthetic and mineral. Both varieties keep the piston well lubricated. However, both the oil types have their own pros and cons.

Synthetic Oil

It was developed by two experts working on the same type of lubrication in the 20th century. Dr. Hermann Zorn of the IG Farben, Germany and Dr. W.A. Zisman of the Naval Research Laboratory, United States of America, developed the conceptual models of synthetic lubrication.

Synthetic oil is artificially prepared, and is made from a perfected process. It uses highly developed and sophisticated formulae. The primary varieties that first appeared in USA were polyolefin based lubrication oils, and till date, the maximum brands of synthetic oil manufacture this variety. Many companies have also come up with synthetic oil lubricants based on polyesters, polyglycols, non-PAO synthetics, esters, alkylated naphthalene, and alkylated benzene. The mechanical and chemical engineers of these manufacturers constantly strive to make better formulae in order to provide an excelling lubrication to the car engine.

Mineral Oil

It is basically a byproduct or a variant of petroleum. It is derived after the process of fractional distillation, and the petroleum products are split into different parts. Thus, the mineral oil is used as a lubricating agent, and has a natural origin. It is made up of alkaline and cyclic paraffin, and is produced in huge quantities after fractional distillation. Before the commercial development of synthetic oil as a lubricant, mineral oil was predominantly used as a mechanical lubricant.

Synthetic vs. Mineral Oil

The basic difference between both the oil types apart from its manufacturers and origin is their molecular and particulate structure.
  • Synthetic oil being a perfected product, has an even and uniform structuring of molecules and particulates.
  • On the other hand, mineral oil contains uneven and less uniform molecules as compared to the synthetic oil.
When the car, the engine, piston, and piston block are new, it is always advisable to use mineral oil. The uneven molecular structure of this oil makes the uneven surfaces of the components and auto parts rub with each other and get eroded, thus making the surface even and smooth. This is very useful as the young components of the engine get into shape, and adapt to the mechanism. As the engine grows older, the components can be well maintained, and they start running without friction. This oil keeps the engine in a good condition, and helps to increase the engine's durability.