You might already know about the many advantages that synthetic motor oils offer over conventional oils. Not only can synthetic motor oils stand up to extreme heat and flow easier at cold temperatures, but they also take longer to break down than their conventional counterparts.
However, there are plenty of interesting things about synthetic oils you might not know. Read on to discover three of these eye-opening facts.
Synthetic Oils Feature Fewer Impurities
Crude oil naturally contains small amounts of water, nitrogen, carbon dioxide and sulfur compounds -- impurities that are often removed during the refining process. While the refining process for conventional motor oil removes most of these impurities, trace amounts often remain. Impurities in motor oil can lead to increased friction and less protection for moving parts.
In contrast, synthetic oils are put through a thorough refining process that produces motor oil of a higher purity than conventional oils. Fewer impurities also mean less friction, resulting in better engine efficiency and performance.
Some Synthetic Oils Contain Metals
Adding metals to motor oil sounds rather counterintuitive. After all, trace amounts of metals are often considered impurities to be removed through the refining process. However, many oil manufacturers have found ways of using metals to their advantage.
Some brands add trace amounts of titanium to their synthetic oils to prevent excessive wear on engine startup. As the synthetic oil drains back into the pan after engine shutdown, the oil leaves behind a titanium film that bonds to metal engine parts. This layer provides a cushion against engine wear that happens when you start your vehicle.
Other brands use magnetic particles to achieve roughly the same effect. Like titanium, the magnetic particles contained in the motor oil cling to metal engine parts as the oil drains away. The microscopic layer left behind provides a layer of protection against excessive wear during engine startup.
Some Cars Actually Require Synthetic
A big myth surrounding synthetic oil is once you make the switch, you can't switch back to conventional oils. The great thing about synthetic oil is that you can switch back and forth if your engine originally called for conventional oil. You can even use semi-synthetic blends that offer a cheaper alternative to most fully-synthetic oils.
There is a notable exception, however. A growing number of modern engines are being designed specifically with synthetic oils in mind. If your engine specifically calls for the use of synthetic oil, you won't be able to use conventional oils in its place. You may be able to get away with using semi-synthetic blends in an emergency, but long-term usage could place your engine at risk of excessive wear and tear.