In the fleet management world, there is an ongoing debate over which is better, conventional mineral oil or synthetic oils and lubricants. The battlegrounds have been drawn for years, with each side passionately defending their preference. But in recent years, a clear winner has started to emerge: synthetic oil. In today’s blog, we will explain why synthetic oil has won this debate.

What are the benefits of synthetic oil and lubricants?
Valvoline, a leading provider of lubricant supplies and engine oil, recently outlined the top 8 benefits of synthetic oil and lubricants. This breakdown exclusively looks at the properties of synthetic oil that make it highly effective. It does not compare conventional oil’s properties but instead highlights how synthetic oil has a different molecular structure and makeup that offers it several advantages. Let’s break down the listed benefits and why they are so crucial for lubricant effectiveness.

  1. Uniform composition
    Conventional oil is derived from crude oil, which is drilled out of the ground. Crude oil is a mix of hydrocarbons as well as nitrogen, sulfur, and oxygen. In a refinery, this product is heated up, which removes unessential molecules like nitrogen, sulfur, and oxygen and fractionates the remaining hydrocarbons. This remaining mixture becomes the base oil mix which is then turned into conventional oil with additives. On the other hand, synthetic oil is created using base oils drilled from the ground and refined, but it goes through an extra step of degradation. This process further breaks down the petroleum molecules, leading to a more uniform molecular structure. This chemical makeup makes synthetic lubricants more stable than conventional oil, which allows it to provide better lubrication.
  2. Fewer impurities
    Another advantage of the synthetic oil creation process is that it removes more impurities from the crude oil. Conventional oil may still contain impurities like oxygen, sulfur, nitrogen, phosphorus, and more molecular compounds. These impurities can undermine the effectiveness of the oil over time and reduce its lubricating efficiency. But because synthetic oil is broken down further to a more uniform molecular structure, these impurities are more likely to be removed, so the oil is cleaner and more efficient.
  3. Better oxidation stability
    Oxidation is a process that happens to all lubricants over time. Basically, it is a chemical chain reaction within the lubricant’s molecular structure that starts to change the lubricant. As the molecules age and are exposed to high and low temperatures and water, more oxygen is created within the molecular structure, which breaks down the lubricant and reduces its effectiveness. In conventional oil, this process happens faster than in synthetic oil. This advantage means synthetic oil products tend to last longer and stay effective. This can often translate to increased engine performance for drivers and fleet managers.
  4. Higher viscosity index
    The viscosity index of an engine oil refers to its ability to resist flow and shear, which affects how the lubricant flows. There are four different properties that can affect the viscosity level of a lubricant: water contamination, particle contamination, other lubricant contamination, and the age of the lubricant. The higher an oil’s viscosity index is, the more resistant it is to temperature changes, and the better the oil will flow. For example, some oils break down at higher temperatures because of a lower viscosity index and start to thin out, which reduces effectiveness. Conventional oil struggles with this, especially during temperature swings. But synthetic oil has a higher viscosity index, so it is more resistant to the four properties that affect viscosity and temperature changes. This property makes synthetic oil an ideal lubricant choice for owners if you’re operating your machinery outdoors or in inclement weather.
  5. Higher flash point
    In case you don’t know, the flash point of a product is the lowest temperature at which it will ignite or flash when exposed to an ignition source. Most mineral oils have flash point of around 440 degrees F. If a conventional oil with this flashpoint is exposed to an ignition source, it may become flammable. Synthetic oils have a higher flashpoint than traditional conventional mineral oils. This higher flashpoint makes synthetic oils less flammable and safer. It’s also ideal for modern engine technology as they experience higher temperatures.
  6. Longer Shelf Life
    Remember how we said synthetic oil has better oxidation stability? That quality and others mean that your synthetic oils and lubricants have a longer shelf life than conventional oil. So even though the upfront cost of synthetic oils may be more, they last longer, and you can go longer between service intervals, which will reduce your lubricant expenses over time.
  7. Better energy efficiency
    All of the chemical and molecular benefits of synthetic oil that we’ve outlined add up to one thing, better energy efficiency. No matter how you look at it, the superior lubricating effects of synthetic engine oil enable your engine to run better and smoother, which improves your energy efficiency. If you want to save on fuel costs, synthetic oil can help.
  8. Biodegradability
    If you’re concerned about spills or safely getting rid of your engine oil waste, try synthetic oil. It is more biodegradable, so it breaks down faster when spilled or thrown out. If you work in an environment where spills may be common or especially dangerous, synthetic oil is a safer choice than conventional oil.

As a fuel and lubricants supplier, we know the benefits of effective lubricant. We trust synthetic engine oil products because we’ve seen how effective they can be. This list from Valvoline accurately describes synthetic oil’s advantages and why it is the obvious choice for lubricant these days. So if reading through this list has convinced you that it’s time to make the switch to synthetic lubricant and oil products, give your Greg’s Petro representative a call at 661-535-4900 and we’ll get you switched over to synthetic oil!