Engine oil is one of the most important, if not the most important, fluid in a car’s system. But when it comes to engine oil, there are gazillions of options to choose from, which can make it confusing. It is especially hard to find an answer to the synthetic blend vs full synthetic question.
Choosing a side when the synthetic blend vs full synthetic fight rages on is not a walk in the park. Given the importance of engine oil in the system of a car, it can end up elevating or ruining your experience with your machine.
Hence, we will need a deep dive into the mystical world of engine oils and figure out an answer to the synthetic blend vs full synthetic debate. Which engine oil type is good for you? Here is your answer.
- What is Engine Oil?
- What are its roles?
- Types of Engine Oils
- Synthetic Blend vs Full Synthetic
What Is Engine Oil?
This is a question that does not require much explanation. Anyone who has had the tiniest encounter with a car will know that there is a substance inside the internal combustion engine called engine oil or motor oil.
The engine oil provides lubrication to the fast-moving engine parts. It also serves as a cooling medium, taking heat away from the internals.
Earlier engine oils were derived from crude oils, but now synthetic oils are taking over the market by storm. Synthetic blend vs full synthetic debate stemmed from this newfound popularity for factory-made engine oils.
The use of engine oil is not just limited to cars. Any machine powered by an internal combustion engine needs engine oil for its smooth operation. These include motorcycles, boats, lawnmowers, generators, tractors and other agricultural equipment, chainsaws, model airplanes, real airplanes, and many other types of machinery that we see on a daily basis.
What Is The Role Of Engine Oil?
As we already know, the engine oil performs two key functions inside an engine. Lubrication as well as heat transfer. It is a known fact that without motor oil in the system, an engine will cease to work.
1. Engine Lubrication
These metal parts if left to move by themselves can brush into one another. Metals brushing into one another is never a good idea as it wears them down pretty quickly. When this happens, the engine freezes, and bam! There is a bill in your hand that weighs some thousands of dollars.
Motor oil eliminates this scenario by providing ample lubrication. It forms a separation between these parts, a film that keeps them from brushing into one another. This prevents them from wearing each other out and increases engine longevity.
Proper lubrication of these parts at the right pressure and flow not only avoids engine degradation but also helps in achieving better fuel economy.
2. Engine Cooling
Every modern IC engine will have a system to cool it. Smaller engines may depend on air cooling while larger engines like the ones in passenger cars depend on liquid cooling. But all vehicles have a secondary cooling system, oil cooling.
The engine oil bathes almost all the components inside an engine. It is also on a constant flow through the engine, starting and ending at the sump. Through this flow, the oil has the capability to take heat away from the system through conduction.
This oil is later cooled down when it reaches the oil pan as the pan is exposed to the flowing ambient air. Many vehicles will also have an oil cooler, which looks like a smaller radiator that also helps in cooling oil. Additionally, some oil gases flow out through the Positive Crankcase Valve (PCV).
This cooling effect assists the engine cooling system and keeps the temperatures in check.
In the debate between synthetic blend vs full synthetic, this is one aspect that we will have to focus on. These two types of oils differ from one another in terms of engine cooling, among other things.
3. Corrosion Prevention
Another role that engine oil plays in the engine is to provide some bit of corrosion protection. The oil may have corrosion inhibitors added to it. They keep the engine parts from oxidizing and corroding.
What Are The Types Of Engine Oil?
With the importance of the engine oil established, let us jump into the market to buy one. Despite being thorough with the manufacturer’s recommended grade of oil, it is quite easy to be confused in front of a shelf that displays numerous diverse types of motor oil.
Motor oils are divided into multiple categories depending on their manufacturing process, viscosity, brand, etc. How do you zero in on the right oil for your car’s engine? Let us help by elaborating on these divisions.
As we opened with synthetic blend vs full synthetic, let us look at divisions on that line. Engine oils are classified into three based on this. These include mineral oils vs synthetic blend vs full synthetic. Let us look at the mineral oils first.
1. Mineral Oil
As its name rightly points out, mineral oils are made from minerals. The crudest of the three, mineral oil is refined petroleum oils that may or may not have additives.
Mineral oils were the earliest oils available in our market. Started as a pure blend of petroleum oils, this type of engine oil went through a lot of improvement over these years.
In their most natural form, these oils may not be able to work efficiently over a wide range of temperatures. But certain processing techniques widen its temperature envelope, ensuring better performance in most conditions.
The most important advantage of using a mineral engine oil is the cost. These type of oils does not require a whole lot of processing, keeping their price low. Many people prefer mineral oils around the world for the same reason, especially for older engines or other smaller applications like low-performance motorcycles, lawnmowers, etc.
But that is where the good news end. Mineral oils have a couple of disadvantages that are increasingly bringing down their popularity. Especially in modern vehicles which work at higher RPMs and higher temperatures.
The first downside of mineral oils is their lower lubrication ability. In modern engines that function at very high RPMs, this can slow down the efficiency of mineral oils. Also, the performance of the mineral oil is sub-par in colder temperatures. They may also lose their integrity in shape during higher temperatures.
All these combined bring down the longevity of the oil. Mineral oils degrade quickly than other kinds of oils, hence, the replacement needs to be done more frequently.
Though there are significant savings in cost, mineral oils are fast losing their ground. Most car manufacturers prefer synthetic oils for their modern engines as they perform better at higher temperatures. The lubrication and cooling of the synthetic oils are highly improved to that of the mineral oil.
Yet, the mineral oil soldiers on in some markets. It is still the undisputed king when it comes to cost-sensitive applications. In global markets where commuter motorcycles are the norm, mineral oil is always the first choice.
2. Synthetic Blend Or Semi-Synthetic
As natural mineral oil has its own shortcomings, what is the method to overcome it? As its name points out, Synthetic blend oils are mineral oils blended with synthetic additives.
The added elements improve the characteristics of the mineral oil by a huge margin. The additives are added aiming to improve the viscosity of the oil as well as its wear resistance. This can provide better performance at higher temperatures when compared to mineral oils.
The synthetic blend oils also improve on the inferior low-temperature properties of conventional mineral oils. With the synthetic blend, you can expect better performance even when the mercury falls.
The most favored property of the synthetic blend is its cost. Though slightly more expensive than the mineral oils, the benefits it brings to the table are worth all the extra pennies.
The benefit in cost becomes more vivid when you pit it against its rival for this story, synthetic blend vs full synthetic. Considering the value for money factor, synthetic blends offer more value for a low price. It is neither as cheap as the mineral oil nor is its performance as great as that of the full synthetic oil. It is a great middle-ground that blends in reputable performance with affordable costs. No wonder it is one of the most sought-after motor oil types in the world.
3. Full Synthetic
We have read about one contender in the synthetic blend vs full synthetic fight. Let us now look at its rival. Full synthetic, the name of this type of engine oil must be more than enough to give you a clear idea.
The full synthetic oils are completely artificial and are made in cutting-edge laboratories. This is the pinnacle of engine oil technology. In its manufacturing process, the processing of mineral oils breaks them down into the finest of molecules. This vastly improves their performance, to an end that is far greater than synthetic blend oils, and certainly a lot better than mineral oils.
The manufacturing process of full synthetic removes impurities to a large degree, helping it improve its properties. The consistent molecule size also helps in improved lubrication. With all these added up, the full synthetic reigns supreme in all conditions. It does not matter if the temperature goes way up or way down, full synthetic oils are engineered to work at their optimum capacity.
But the point that works against it is the key advantage that swings the synthetic blend vs full synthetic fight in favor of the blended oil. The cost. Full synthetic oils are very expensive compared to synthetic blends or mineral oils, as the manufacturing process costs a lot of dime.
In favor of the full synthetic engine oil, there is no requirement to change it often. The full synthetic oils degrade slowly when compared to the other types. Hence, you can go longer with these oils, which can offset the additional cost of the oil.
Now you have seen both the synthetic blend vs full synthetic. But how do they fare when we line them up one against the other?
Synthetic Blend Vs Full Synthetic
To pit synthetic blend vs full synthetic, we need to look at a few characteristics a customer may look for.
Synthetic Blend Vs Full Synthetic – Compatibility
Before everything, a customer chooses an oil based on its compatibility with the engine in his/her vehicle. Both synthetic blend and full synthetic oils come in almost all grades that modern vehicles require.
This versatile range makes it hard to find a winner in synthetic blend vs full synthetic comparison. No matter whichever vehicle you have, it is almost sure that there is a synthetic blend or full synthetic oil available on the shelf for it. Exceptions do exist.
If you have an extremely high-performance engine under your hood, or behind your seats, it is highly likely that your manufacturer swears by a full synthetic oil. In these cases, it is essential that you stick to the directions.
More than the compatibility, let us look at which engine oil is the best for your vehicle. The full synthetic oil is any day a better choice if optimum protection is your only concern. This is not saying that synthetic blends are inadequate. But it can never match the supreme lubricative and cooling traits of synthetic oils.
Synthetic Blend Vs Full Synthetic – Cost
This is where the underdog lands a blow in the synthetic blend vs full synthetic boxing match. The full synthetic oils, as we already learned, are way more expensive than the synthetic blend. In fact, it may be 30 percent more expensive than the synthetic blend of a similar rating. This is no small increase, as synthetic blends are already more expensive than conventional mineral engine oils.
If you are about to change the engine oil but your wallet is not very happy state, the synthetic blend is the one to go for. It can provide pretty good protection compared to conventional mineral oils. This will not break your bank as well.
Cost is an important factor for many customers. For many customers, it may be a decision-making point. But this does not mean the full synthetic engine oil is not good enough for the cost it is asking for.
It more than redeems its stance in the synthetic blend vs full synthetic fight in more than one way. We will detail them in the upcoming comparisons
Synthetic Blend Vs Full Synthetic – Oil Change Intervals
Companies put together full synthetic oils with longevity in mind. They do not degrade as much as mineral oils or synthetic blend oils. They also hold on to their properties better even in varying temperatures of operation. This helps it away from degradation over time.
Thus, if you have full synthetic oil running in your engine, the oil changes can be far between. In the case of mineral oils, you may have to drain out the old oil after 3000 to 5000 miles. This can be a headache especially if you drive your vehicle for long distances regularly.
Synthetic blend vs full synthetic game takes a turn here. The mineral-synthetic blend oils require oil changes every 6000 to 7500 miles, sometimes a bit more. This can help you go farther between every oil change and the related visits to the garage. Even if you are fine crawling under the vehicle to change the oil yourself, replacing them regularly can be a headache. This is where the full synthetic oils shine their brightest.
There are fully synthetic oils in the market that can easily go for 15000 to 20000 miles between oil changes. This means that you may not have to visit the garage for months on end, maybe a year. This is one of the reasons, fully synthetic oils are becoming far more popular now than ever before.
The longer oil change intervals not only trade an uppercut to the synthetic blend oil in the synthetic blend vs full synthetic fight but also nullify the “cost” punch the full synthetic received earlier. With longer change intervals, the additional cost a full synthetic oil incurs gets justified.
Synthetic Blend Vs Full Synthetic – Longevity Of The Engine
You know the answer to this. Full synthetic engine oils offer superior lubrication and cooling, helping the engine run for longer. Additionally, the performance of full synthetic oils does not degrade when the temperature rises or drops drastically outside. Hence, your engine remains protected no matter what environment you toss it around in.
If you have a truck or SUV that tows or carries heavy loads, the engine is always stressed. So is the case of high-performance hot hatches, supercars, and other performance machinery. Their engines are programmed to perform at very high RPMs or under high stress. As a result, these engines die out quicker than other engines. For these special mills, full synthetic oils can provide optimum protection, something that any mineral or synthetic blend engine oils can never match.
But this is no clean sweep of the synthetic blend vs full synthetic debate by team full synthetic as there are other situations out there where this advantage slightly reduces.
In city slicking economy cars, the engine is not always under heavy loads. They seldom go to high RPMs, and they rarely carry more than 2 passengers. Their mills are always not under heavy loading hence the protection offered by synthetic blend engine oils can also ensure the long life of the engine.
The full synthetic oils can provide more protection to these engines as well. But you may not be as benefitted from it as a supercar owner would. If you maintain your vehicle properly with timely oil changes, the synthetic blend vs full synthetic debate can swing either way, in the case of an economy car.
Synthetic Blend Vs Full Synthetic – Popularity
Humans are social animals, and we tend to follow what our fellow humans do. Even in a modern, capitalistic world, this stands true. We put more trust in stuff that is more popular, the stuff that most people buy, the stuff that most people recommend to you, so on and so forth.
In the case of engine oils, it is no different. Most people end up buying what others buy the most. And if a product is popular, it should have some sort of merit to rise above the rest in such a competitive world. So let us look at which type of oil most people prefer.
In earlier times, mineral oils were the go-to choice. As we mentioned earlier, they are still popular in cost-effective applications across the world. But in the developed world, modern cars prefer oils with higher performance characteristics, hence the synthetic blend vs full synthetic debate.
Though synthetic blends are popular for their value to cost ratio, full synthetics are catching up quite quickly. Most people are understanding the value it brings to the table and is lured in by the longer change intervals. But there still are numerous takers for the cheaper synthetic blends. So, if you choose either side in the synthetic blend vs full synthetic debate, you will have people backing you up.
Verdict: Synthetic Blend Vs Full Synthetic
It does not matter which car you have, with all factors considered, full synthetic is your best bet. It gives far better protection to the engine, does not require frequent oil changes, and gives long life. Why should you not choose synthetic blend then?
It all depends on your application. If you use a small-engined motorcycle for regular commutes, the synthetic blend may not be a bad idea for it. The only thing to keep in mind is to ensure discipline in oil changes.
But if you have a larger vehicle with an engine that gets stressed regularly, full synthetic is the way to go. No second thoughts about that. Yes, it will burn away a few more dollars from your wallet. But the protection it offers is unmatched by any synthetic blend oil.
But whichever way you go, choosing a mineral oil in this day and age for regular use is not the right choice. No matter who wins in the synthetic blend vs full synthetic debate, it will always offer better value than regular mineral oil.