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Engine motor oils: synthetic vs. mineral

One of the major discussion points over engine oil is the difference between synthetic and mineral.

Naturally, using oils from major manufacturers such as Fuchs, Shell, Q8 and Mobil will help a great deal, but there is so much more to understand about engine lubricants.

Though the ever-changing face of engine oil viscosity is important, the real crux of the matter for many is deciding which is preferable, synthetic or mineral lubricants.

Essentially, there are two types of synthetics on the market, with Group IV oils comprising a cocktail of manmade (or synthesised), molecular, and chemical compositions that allow engineers to carefully and more accurately develop lubricants to suit their power unit design, improve flow consistency through the engine, and use less energy. Mobil 1 is one of the best performing oils in this class.

The other type of synthetic oil is Group III which, though offering a cheaper alternative, is less effective as it is reprocessed from other oil-based products, such as diesel and petrol.

When it comes to mineral-based motor engine lubricants, it is a much more simple process – a rather straightforward distillation from crude oil. The better the crude oil that is used, the better the mineral oil resulting from the process will be.

Manufacturer recommendations

Choosing whether to go for synthetic or mineral is, therefore, very much a personal decision often based on price. However, the best way to optimise any car engine is to use the oils as defined by the manufacturer of the vehicle and, here again, they tend to construct their power units working closely with major oil manufacturers. This may perhaps come as little surprise, given the billions of pounds in research and development that the likes of Fuchs, Shell, Q8 and Mobil invest every year.

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