Niagara Gazette

Features

March 21, 2013

TOM'S CORNER: Breaking down synthetic motor oil

Niagara Gazette — EDITOR’S NOTE: The Gazette has partnered with local automotive expert Tom Torbjornsen to publish his weekly national column. Tom’s Corner will appear in Thursday’s editions.

Recently I’ve been getting a lot of questions about the use of synthetic motor oil in vehicles, such as: Should I use synthetic oil? Does it work better in some cars than others? Does it cost more? Do I have to change the oil more frequently? Less frequently? Does it make my engine last longer?

First of all, let’s take a brief look at the history of synthetic motor oil and its introduction to the marketplace.

AMSOIL INC developed the first synthetic motor oil to meet API service requirements for use in passenger vehicles. Lt. Col. Albert J. Amatuzio, founder, president and CEO of AMSOIL INC witnessed synthetic lubricants in action as a jet fighter squadron commander. Synthetic oils were developed for (and still are used exclusively in) aircraft jet engines because of their extraordinary ability to reduce friction and wear on engine parts. Good synthetic oil has an incredible ability to function dependably at severe hot and cold temperatures as well as to withstand rigorous and lengthy engine operation without chemical breakdown resulting in “viscosity breakdown” or the inability of a fluid to flow.

This is critical in aircraft engine operation because, if oil breaks down at 30,000 feet, aircraft engines can fail and — well, you get the picture.

Amatuzio decided that he would develop synthetic motor oil to be used in automobiles in hopes of realizing the same benefits in passenger cars as in aircraft engines. In 1972 AMSOIL rolled out the first synthetic motor oil for automotive applications. In the early ’70s, another company was also working on synthetic oil development for the automobile — Mobil Oil Company. They came to market with synthetic motor oil in 1975; you might know it as “Mobile One.” By the 1990s the other major oil companies added their synthetic oils to the marketplace, in addition to their petroleum-based products.

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