You’re probably already aware that synthetic engine oils perform significantly better than their conventional counterparts, but you might not know exactly why. Simply put, the fact that synthetic oils are produced from petroleum components rather than crude oil makes them more versatile in every aspect. They offer a number of advantages over conventional oils, but do tend to cost slightly more. Not all engines require the use of synthetic oils, but you might be better off doing so anyway, and here’s why.
A Cleaner Engine
Oil, as we all know, lubricates the engine, preventing direct metal on metal erosion. As it circulates the engine, the engine oil can pick up small deposits of debris created from the sludge, which reduce the efficiency and your engine’s lifespan. Synthetic engine oils contain a lot less impurities which make them more resistant to sludge deposits. They boost both fuel efficiency and engine longevity.
Oil essentially acts as a protective layer between the components, but over time it wears down and becomes less effective. Synthetic oils last longer because of the synthesizing process and petroleum components used to make them.
Better Temperature Performance
Whether it’s extremely high or freezingly low temperatures, synthetic oils perform several times better. Due to the higher viscosity (thickness) present in conventional oils, they take more time to warm up and start circulating in low temperatures. Thin, highly-fluid synthetic oils take considerably less time to start protecting your engine after you turn the key. Likewise, high temperatures can cause conventional oil to evaporate or even break down over time, but that’s an issue the synthetic motor oil is not familiar with.
Apart from their slightly higher price, synthetic motor oils offer a dozen more advantages over conventional ones. What’s more, they’re compatible with just about any engine, so you don’t have to consult a manual. Be aware that you can’t mix and match synthetic and conventional oils, or even different brands of synthetic oils.
Best Synthetic Engine Oils
|Synthetic engine oil||Oil brand||Oil Type|
|Mobil 1 Synthetic Engine Oil||Mobil 1||5W-30|
|Castrol EDGE Motor Oil||Castrol||5W-30|
|Pennzoil Platinum Synthetic Motor Oil||Pennzoil||5W-30|
|MAG 1 Synthetic Engine Oil||MAG 1||0W-20|
|Valvoline SynPower Motor Oil||Valvoline||5W-40|
Mobil 1 120764 5W-30 Synthetic Engine Oil
Want the best synthetic engine oil on the market? This is it. Produced by the famous UK oil manufacturer Mobil, it offers everything you’d want from fully-synthetic engine oil. It’s easy to use and made in the USA. Mobil uses a special undisclosed formula for each of their oils, and this one is no different. At this point I could tell you that it offers added protection against wear and tear, and it decreases the build-up of sludge, but you want to know the real-world performance it offers, not the marketed one.
The short and simple answer is it works as it’s intended to. Mobil truly is an expert when it comes to engine oils. You can feel it doing its job by the way the car behaves. The engine is a lot more free-revving and it works easier, plus it lasts extremely long. It’s so effective that you will struggle to see the oil line on the dipstick since it barely blackens, even long after an oil change. Available in 1 quart and 5 quart bottles, you can even order a pack of six to total six quarts. The best engine oil on the market today, it’s as simple as that.
Castrol EDGE Extended Performance 5W-30 Motor Oil
Coming in at a close second is the Castrol EDGE, Mobil’s direct rival. Not just because they’re both UK manufacturers, but due to the fact that they produce the best synthetic engine oils on the planet. Castrol’s EDGE lineup is their strongest and most-advanced range of engine oils to date. With added proprietary titanium additives it offers extra protection, by as much as 15,000 miles between oil changes with this Extended Performance edition. It’s marketed as durable performance oil capable of withstanding even the harshest of forces and maintain viscosity.
It’s difficult to measure how big of an increase synthetic oils offer over conventional ones in numbers, but you can definitely feel the difference. The engine runs a lot smoother and idles more steadily. It also feels a lot more willing to stay in the higher rev-range thanks to the added lubrication. The fact that it offers extended performance is just the icing on the cake.
Pennzoil Platinum 5W-30 Full Synthetic Motor Oil
Unlike the two previous oils, Pennzoil offers USA-made synthetic oil. If you want something manufactured in America, this is the best oil on the market. Its fully synthetic formula with active cleansing agents guarantees the removal of sludge significantly better than conventional oil. It maximizes the engine’s responsiveness and its longevity greatly. The container holding the oil is better than the rest of the ones on this list, thanks to a funnel-shaped opening which makes pouring it easy and mess-free.
A disadvantage of the Pennzoil is that it’s only offered in a single unit of a 5 quart bottle or in three 5 quart bottles, which does mean you can’t just purchase a quart to top off the oil level. On the other hand, it’s much more cost-effective to purchase oil in larger quantities anyway, so it makes more sense than you might think. Last but not least, it seems to offer slightly less MPG compared to the top two oils on our list, but the difference is so small it’s negligible.
MAG 1 0W-20 Synthetic Engine Oil Review
MAG1 isn’t as popular of a choice as the other brands featured here, but it is one of the cheapest while offering nearly the same amount of performance. Formulated to prevent engine wear and reduce engine sludge, its fully synthetic base exceeds most performance limits and standards by as much as 65 percent. It meets all GM dexos1 specifications needed for world-wide warranty requirements.
It is the only oil on this list to offer a 0W-20 compound. The number before “W” signifies how good the motor oil is in the winter, while the 20 gives away its viscosity. The lower the numbers the more resilient the oil is to cold weather and the thinner its viscosity respectively. One drawback of the MAG1 is its cheap bottle which can make pouring it a challenge. The contents inside are more than worth it however.
Valvoline SynPower SAE 5W-40 Motor Oil
Last on this list but by no means the worst oil out there is Valvoline’s SynPower. It’s high-quality oil but it can’t compete with the rest of the lineup on this list. It is however good enough to make it to the top 5 best synthetic engine oils. Valvoline has a long and rich history of producing great oils for lots of sports cars, race cars, and even World War II military vehicles. It’s safe to say they know a thing or two when it comes to making quality products.
So why is it last on our top 5 list? Well because someone has to be, and Valvoline’s fundamentally not as good anti sludge detergents make it nearly there but not quite. It’s good generic oil but you have to make sure it meets the designed specifications for your particular vehicle.
Like previously mentioned, if you simply want the best oil money can buy then Mobil is your one stop shop, no doubt about it. The Castrol comes in at a close second, but you probably won’t even notice the differences by daily driving it. Pennzoil is just behind these two, but it’s made in the USA, and if that matters to you, then it should be your oil of choice. If you live somewhere with colder climates, the MAG1’s winter-friendly formula and lower viscosity make it the best pick. Valvoline’s SynPower is a good all-rounder if you just want oil for your car. It will work as expected, but is marginally worse than the rest portrayed here.
If you’re looking for motorcycle oil instead of car oil, check out our guide on the best motorcycle oil. Motorcycle oil tends to have less friction, because in most motorcycles the oil is also used to lubricate the transmission. In cars that is usually the ATF fluid’s job.