What is Fully Synthetic, Semi Synthetic and Mineral Engine Oil?

Engine oil is rightfully called the blood that flows through the engine and keeps it pumping. The importance of engine oil can never be disregarded. Engine oils significantly helps in lubricating and protecting the engine to avoid corrosion of the internal parts. In addition, it ensures smooth and efficient performance of your bike, car, rickshaw, trucks and other heavier vehicles. Engine oil also helps in cooling your engine down. So, it goes without saying the role engine oil plays in the maintenance and upkeep of your vehicle. Let us learn more about what is Fully Synthetic, Semi Synthetic and Mineral Engine Oil.

Which are the different types of engine oil?

It is highly advised that you check the vehicle owner’s/manufacturers manual to properly understand one of the most asked questions people have; which type of engine oil one should use. The types of engine oils mostly depend upon your driving needs and conditions. We’ve covered this briefly in our blog about how to choose the right engine oil for yourself. But engine oils are mainly categorized into three types;

  1. Mineral engine oils
  2. Semi-synthetic oils
  3. Synthetic engine oils
  4. Premium Mineral Oils 
Infographic on Types of engine oils fully synthetic, semi synthetic, mineral, premium mineral engine oil

What are Mineral Engine Oils?

These oils are by-products derived from refined petroleum crude oil. It is more fit for older vehicles and lesser in cost than synthetic and semi synthetic oils. They tend to provide adequate protection to the engine. These oils are also thicker in nature so it flows slowly through the engine. All of this leads to increased fuel consumption. 

These oils have low oxidation stability, it requires frequent changing of the oil. Oxidation decreases the life of the lubricant every 10 degrees increase in temperature by half and oxidation stability is a chemical reaction that combines oxygen and lubricant. The occurrence of chemical degradation is possible during extreme conditions/temperatures and that can lead to sludge, varnish or deposits, corrosion, viscosity change and impaired engine performance. 

Since it is a by-product of petroleum, the process is environmentally damaging. Another disadvantage of using mineral oil provides less protection to the engine. Mineral engine oils have a shelf life of up to 5 years.

What are Semi Synthetic Engine Oils?

It was in 1966 the first semi synthetic engine oil had come out. Rightfully termed as the best of both worlds, these oils are composed of a mixture of 100% synthetic and traditional mineral oils. They have both the benefits of fully synthetic oils and mineral oils such as;

  1. Offers better engine protection
  2. Better fuel economy
  3. Extended shelf-life
  4. Less prone to evaporation
  5. Better fuel economy
  6. It has low viscosity, low friction-tendencies

When it comes to cost, it is more affordable than fully synthetic oils. It provides a good option for people who would like to get the advantages of both dominant types excluding their drawbacks at a cost-friendly price. Another useful advantage is the infrequent oil changes. You can wait long intervals between oil changes.

There are also variations of engine oils known as premium synthetic and premium mineral oils. These are highly superior in terms of quality, performance and efficiency of your vehicle’s engine. These are also more on the pricier but at the same time give more benefits of a good engine oil such as being able to withstand extreme temperatures.

What are Synthetic Engine Oils ?

These are artificially-made and chemically-blended engine oils. These oils suit newer and modern vehicles more. They are various additives in it that influence its resistance towards high and low temperatures. 

This is related to the engine oil viscosity which is the fluids or lubricants resistance of flow. As compared to mineral oils, synthetic engine oils are thinner and slicker in nature. This makes the lubricant flow more fluid and helps in protecting your engine better. 

The oxidation stability as mentioned before is also better than mineral oils. They also use high-quality base oils as opposed to mineral oils which use less-refined oils. 

Synthetic oils also have a higher viscosity index (VI) which means the viscosity of the lubricant is unlikely to change in varying/extreme temperatures which prevents engine friction damage and corrosion. They are also less volatile, meaning the loss of oil to the engine’s exhaust stream will be less.

Some of the benefits of using synthetic oils are;

  1. Superior protection to the engine 
  2. last longer than mineral oils
  3. Better and smoother performance
  4. Better mileage 
  5. Neutralize oil-impurities 
  6. Increase lubricity 

An interesting fact about these engine oils is that they were invented by the Germans in the World War II era to ensure fluidity in minus zero temperatures on the Russian terrain. 

They only started incorporating it in cars post 70’s. Over recent years, synthetic oils are becoming more popular in use than their counterparts. The only downside to using synthetic oils is the cost. Although they have more incentives, it is more expensive than their mineral alternative.

What are Premium Mineral Oils ?

Premium mineral engine oils offer superior performance because they are made with high-quality mineral. They are known to have excellent oil performance reliability. These oils are equipped to clean, protect and extend the life of your engine oil. 

These oils have a high viscosity index, high-quality base stocks and good anti-wear, thermal and anti-oxidation properties. They are also most commonly used for motorbikes with petrol engines

Conclusion

There are mainly three classifications of engine oils; conventional mineral oils, fully synthetic engine oils and semi-synthetic engine oils. The right one for you will largely depend upon your vehicle manufacturer’s manual because it will mention what specific kind of engine oil to use, the filter and how often you need to change it. 

Other factors include your driving purposes and needs, your location and what you would want out of your vehicle performance. 

Mineral oils are more suited for older bikes and cars whereas synthetic oils are more popularly used for present-era vehicles, giving overall top-level performance. Semi-synthetic are a good option for people to get the best of both at a much wallet-friendly price. 

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