Niagara Gazette

Columns

March 21, 2013

TOM'S CORNER: Breaking down synthetic motor oil

(Continued)

Niagara Gazette — To understand synthetic motor oil, let’s first look first at the origins of all motor oil. Conventional oils come from crude oil that is pumped from the ground. In an oil refinery, crude oil is separated into various fractions. These fractions become the bases for lubricating oils and fuels. The part of crude oil that forms thick tangled masses of carbon chains is used in roofing tar and roadwork. Very short chains and ring compounds of carbon are volatile and can be refined to produce gasoline and other products. All motor oils are made up of base oils and additives. In general, fully synthetic motor oils contain non-conventional, high-performance fluids, which make good quality synthetic motor oil tougher than non-synthetic. Synthetic blends usually use some non-conventional, high-performance fluids in combination with conventional oil. It is the unique chemical formulation of synthetic oil that causes it to be highly resistant to viscosity breakdown from high temperature, friction, and chemical contaminants. Now that we have the elementary out of the way (I feel like I should say “Watson” at this juncture!). Let’s move on to the most popular Q&A surrounding synthetic motor oil.

•••

Should I use synthetic oil in my car?

That depends on the vehicle’s age, mileage, and the carmaker’s recommendations for engine lubricants. Older vehicles with high mileage tend to have excessive mechanical wear in the engine, allowing for internal oil leakage. On vehicles with high mileage, it is not recommended to use full synthetic oil because it is thin and very free flowing, and use of it does (more often than not) result in internal oil combustion (or burning). I used full synthetic oil in a Plymouth Neon I owned years ago. After logging 120,000 miles the car started to consume oil at an alarming rate.

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