In the world of oils and lubricants, there’s so much jargon thrown around that it can make your head spin faster than your crankshaft. Words like Synthetic, Full Synthetic, 100% Synthetic, Mineral and Synthetic Technology are thrown around so much that it’s impossible to tell one from the other, making it a huge pain to choose the right oil for you. Because of this, in conjunction with the launch of our latest 100% Synthetic and Technosynthese engine oils and brake fluids from Motul to cut through the technical speak and tell you exactly what means what in the world of oil.
What makes up my oil in the first place?
Engine oil is essentially made from two key elements. Engine oil starts with a “base stock” which essentially serves as the bulk of the oil. This can either be made from mineral oil (based from crude oil dug out of the ground) that have been refined into oil, or formulated from synthetic compounds into a lubricating fluid with the same viscosity as mineral oil.
These base stocks are then enhanced with additives and detergents that take an engine oil’s capability from simple lubrication and allow it to cling to the surfaces of your engine. In doing so, as the flows through your engine, cleaning and protecting it from wear, oxidation, corrosion and the build up of harmful sludge and deposits. When combined, these oils and additives are made to operate at the very high temperatures and pressures that arise in your engine, and vary in viscosity (the ease of how freely it flows) as your engine warms up.
Sounds simple right? Unfortunately, the different types of oil that have come on the market, all with their own marketing spin and trademarked ways of doing things, have made the Oil market one of the most confusing in the entire industry for consumers. Here’s a little guide for you to make things simpler.
In order to make higher quality oils, high-performance oil companies will essentially develop molecules from scratch, which are then synthesised and produced free of any mineral or crude oils. By doing this, the greatest advances in automotive oils are made, as new compounds and molecules are developed that are capable of greater lubrication, greater protection and higher resistance to pressure. This also means that companies can control the quality of every drop of oil in your bottle, as opposed to having to refine the quality of mineral base oils.
When you see the words 100% Synthetic on a bottle, such as in Motul’s H-Tech, 8100 and 300V ranges, that means that EVERY SINGLE DROP of oil in your bottle is a synthetically produced compound, mixed with fully synthetic additives.
The problem with “Full Synthetic”
This is where the confusing stuff begins. The problem with oils is that there is no real regulation for blanket terms such as “Full-Synthetic” and what can be called a Full Synthetic oil. In many cases, oils that claim to be fully synthetic often are, made in exactly the same way as 100% Synthetic oils and just named differently.
Unfortunately, some aren’t. Many companies, particularly the larger producers and miners of crude oils, have developed ways of refining and synthesising mineral oils to achieve a higher degree of purity that, had normal refining processes been used, wouldn’t be achievable. These synthesized mineral oils are often labeled Synthetic, so it’s worth checking with the producer as to just what the base stocks of the Fully Synthetic Oil you’re planning to buy are actually made of.
Semi Synthetic, Synthetic Blends and Synthetic Technology
It doesn’t get much clearer from here. Once you take these mineral oils, synthesised mineral oils and synthetic base stocks and mix them up into different blends, this is where the terms “Semi-Synthetic” and “Synthetic Technology” come into play. Synthetic blend oils come with a wide degree of these labels, and generally they consist of some form of mineral oil that has been enhanced with Synthetic base stocks, such as what you get with Motul’s Technosynthese. Many Synthetic Technology oils are made entirely of these crude oils that have been synthesised into higher purity oils, they’re just more honestly labelled.
There’s so much confusion when it comes to oil, but by doing your research and investing in a trusted brand such as Motul, you can avoid the marketing spin that comes with a great deal of engine oils. Look for 100% synthetic on the label, and do your research when considering investing in a full or semi-synthetic oil. To check out the Motul’s full range of 100% synthetic oils, read this article, and for some great info on Motul’s racing heritage, have a read here.