Volvo Engine Oil – Synthetic Motor Oil;The Cost Benefit Analysis
- Lubricates. Oil reduces friction to prevent over-heating and damaging wear.
- Cools engine parts that coolant cannot reach.
- Cleans. Your engine oil prevents deposits (tars & waxes) from building up by acting as a solvent. Oil also prevents corrosion inside the engine.
- Seals. Engine oil acts as sealant to prevent harmful carbon residue from getting through the piston rings. Carbon deposits are very hardy and just like diamonds (carbon under intense pressure and heat).
- Suspends. Oil will float carbon residue and other contaminants until the oil filter can filter it out . This is why your oil filter is replaced after an oil change.
Did you know that cold starts cause the most wear in internal combustion engines.
Wear and tear mostly happens at start up because there is no oil flowing in the engine, its all in the sump (oil pan at the base of the engine).
Oil is at it’s peak when it has reached standard operating temperature, this happens after about 10-15 minutes of driving, or 5 minutes after your engine coolant has reached normal operating temperature.
So, treat your car like a best friend and accelerate gently after starting your car on a cold morning, allow it to build up to standard operating temperature.
There Are Four Different Types of Motor Oil Base Stocks:
Each of the four base stock compositions has a significant effect on the overall performance of motor oil. There are four different types of base stock used in the motor oil market today.
Group 1 – Conventional – Mineral oil derived from crude oil
Group 2 – Hydroprocessed – Highly refined mineral oil
Group 3 – Severe hydroprocessed – Ultra refined mineral oil
Group 4 – Full synthetics (chemically derived) – Chemically built Polyalphaolefins (PAO).
Conventional oil vs Synthetic oil: According to the Mobile Oil website
“Conventional oils come from crude oil that is pumped from the ground. Crude oil is made up of a complex mixture of molecules that form chains and rings of different sizes and shapes. Long chains of carbon atoms produce a thick, viscous fluid that flows slowly. Shorter chains produce fluid that flows more readily.
In an oil refinery, crude oil is separated into various fractions. These become the basis for lubricating oils and fuels. Thick tangled masses of carbon chains become asphaltic materials used in roofing tar and road work. Very short chains and ring compounds of carbon are volatile and can be refined to produce gasoline and other products.
While petroleum refining is an advanced science, small amounts of contaminants, such as sulfur and reactive hydrocarbons, cannot be completely removed from petroleum, and may end up in motor oil base stocks.
All motor oils are made up of base oils and additives. In general, fully synthetic motor oils contain non-conventional, high-performance fluids. Synthetic blends usually use some non-conventional, high-performance fluids in combination with conventional oil.”
“Historically, conventional oils lack the performance of synthetic oils in the areas of low-temperature performance and high-temperature oxidation stability. Conventional motor oil is made up of an inconsistent mixture of long and short chains of carbon and hydrogen atoms. In the extreme heat of an engine, short-chain molecules can evaporate, and unstable molecules can oxidize and break down. Conventional oils contain much greater amounts of impurities, such as sulfur, reactive and unstable hydrocarbons, and other undesirable contaminants that cannot be completely removed by conventional refining of crude oil.”
Synthetic oils are lab engineered oils, where each molecule is completely identical to all other molecules. The goal here was to engineer a superior oil with predictable properties and with no contaminants, whatsoever.
Conventional petroleum based oils contain sulfur, hence additives are added. These additives include detergents to neutralize sulfuric acid.
Sulfur combined with trace amount of water combine to form sulfuric acid. This is due to driving habits (short trips) where the combustion process does not reach the required operating temperatures to burn off the trace amounts of water.
Another reason why you require frequent oil changes if you use conventional oil is because these additives become exhausted after 3000 miles. The oil remains stable but contaminated without the detergents.
Synthetics are superior lubricants compared to traditional petroleum oils due to their superior high temperature oxidation resistance, high film strength, very low tendency to form deposits, stable viscosity base, and low temperature flow characteristics.
A pure synthetic like AMSOIL boasts of 25,000 mile drain intervals compared to 3000 mile drain intervals for conventional oil. A synthetic will also give your engine a long lifespan, between 300,000 – 400,000 miles. However, AMSOIL is a very expensive oil in comparison to cheaper petroleum based oils. Always consult your owners manual for recommended oil.
Another disadvantage for synthetics is that old cars (10yrs +) are not compatible with pure synthetics because they might spring oil leaks.
Old vehicles like humans soon develop incontinence. The gunk (tar & wax) in petroleum based oils act as sealants in the seals and gaskets, thus preventing a potential oil leak.
Synthetic are very efficient cleaners and when you introduce a pure synthetic like AMSOIL into an old engine it quickly washes away the gunk;thus, exposing potential leaks.
It is therefore advisable to introduce synthetics early into the life of your vehicle.
This is a closely guarded secret for a combination of conventional or base oil with severely hydro processed or synthetic (PAO) base stocks.
Don’t believe the hype:
Through some clever marketing, oil companies are marketing group 3 oils as “synthetic”.
For some reason, after Mobile sued Castrol (Castrol Syntec Blend) and lost, everyone (oil manufacturers) has agreed that Group III base oils are “synthetic”.
So, make up your own mind if “semi-synthetic” means anything to you at all. The going definition is a combination of mineral oil with severely hydro processed oil or mineral oil with pure synthetic (PAO) base stocks. Check out this mobile oil link.
The oil manufacturers love it, they can charge a premium for mixing a cheap oil with a closely guarded secret proportion (10%-25%) of severely processed grade 3 oil and call it “synthetic” or “synthetic blend”.
The key advantage of synthetic oil is long engine life, up to 300,000 miles or more, but to realize a good return for your investment in expensive oil, you have to be a high mileage driver. A Realtor or salesperson would be best served by synthetic oil.
A cheaper option is to buy a Synthetic Blend. These are oils which are a blend of petroleum oil and no more than 10%-25% synthetic oil. (Do some due diligence to find out if the 10%-15% is actually pure synthetic or severely hydro processed grade 3 mineral oil).
Our dealership uses Castrol Syntec Blend, though not covered under the free Volvo Factory scheduled Maintenance for new cars. This means that the dealership has to pay for the difference in price for using a higher quality oil.
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