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Understanding synthetic blends and semi-synthetic oils

With a wide range of motor oils available, those seeking a suitable solution can be forgiven for being confused. The difference between a synthetic blend and a semi-synthetic solution has been known to cause particular confusion, as they fall somewhere between a full and conventional synthetic option for motor oil. In the following sections, we’ll investigate some of the advantages and disadvantages of choosing these lubricants to help make it clearer for those picking a product to suit their needs.

Are semi-synthetic oils and synthetic blends essentially the same product?

We’ll begin by defining exactly what is meant by the terms “semi-synthetic” and “synthetic blend”.

Typically, semi-synthetic and synthetic blends refer to precisely the same type of lubricant – an oil that has a formula comprised of a combination of both synthetic and conventional base oils.

However, while these base oils provide the crucial foundation of the motor oil’s formula, they are not all it contains. Specially engineered additives are also included into the mix, and the quantity and quality of these extras can have a significant impact on the oil’s performance and protection capabilities.

The problem of undefined amounts of base oil present

It’s worth noting that there are industry guidelines that currently govern and define the minimum percentage of base oil that needs to be present in a lubricant for it to be classified as a semi-synthetic or synthetic blend, and this can be a problem.

The protection level offered by a synthetic oil in comparison to a conventional solution can vary greatly, depending on the quality and percentage of the formula’s synthetic base oils. As synthetic base oils have enhanced molecular stability and uniformity in comparison to conventional base oils, they can offer enhanced performance, reducing oil burn-off under intense heat, as well as oxidation. This can provide user with many benefits, such as a cleaner engine, enhanced wear protection and even a reduction in oil consumption, adding up to substantial savings.

However, acquiring these advantages from a synthetic blend or semi-synthetic oil is always proportionate to the percentage of synthetic base oils within a specific formulation, which is not always clear.

Selecting the best oil for your equipment

While consulting your Original Equipment Manufacturer’s (OEM) specifications is always advised, many operators may be tempted by more economical options. Historically, it was once true that synthetic blends of oil were a more cost-effective option than investing in full synthetics, but this latter category has now matured to some extent, eliminating any price advantage once present.

Today, synthetic blends account for the smallest motor oil category for passenger cars and have experienced exceptionally little growth in recent years. Full synthetics are fast becoming a favoured choice of many car owners and are seeing a rise in popularity from those after higher performance levels.

A wide range of high-quality full synthetic oils are readily available today from world-class manufacturers like Mobil, Valvoline, Castrol and Fuchs, and they are sold by dependable suppliers here in the UK.

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