A Look at Synthetic Motor Oils

For quite some time, the only decision a truck driver needing oil for a diesel engine had to make was which brand of 15W40 to purchase. In recent years, the industry has slowly been making the change to synthetic oil. Now, 10W30 is an option and in the future, 5W30 could even be on the table.

What happened?

It all starts with the EPA. Engine manufacturers are under pressure to improve fuel economy and friction is eating into their efforts. The solution is to move to lower viscosity oils in newer engines.

Having more choices can cause confusion and can even be overwhelming. When you put oil in a truck with a $40,00-$60,00 engine, you are directly affecting how this expensive piece of machinery works. It is important to understand the nature of lubricants and how they work can help drivers make better decisions for their truck.

Understanding the Numbers

The numbers on the oil container will tell you its viscosity. The first set of numbers followed by the “W” shows the viscosity of the oil when it’s cold. The other set of numbers shows the viscosity of the oil when at operating temperature.

Advantage of Synthetics

First and foremost, synthetic oil is slicker than conventional oil. Because of this, it picks up fewer contaminants as it does its job of lubrication. Less friction means the motor works more efficiently and that means greater fuel economy.

Oxidation levels are also higher in synthetic oils. This means it is less likely that oxygen will mix with the oil and break it down, keeping your engine cleaner. Lower volatility means there is less evaporation. If you’ve owned an older car and always kept a case of oil handy then you know how important that is. The oil lasts longer in the engine. Less oil burning along with better fuel economy means lower emissions too.

There are many drivers who could argue for conventional oil over synthetic oil. However, one thing those drivers can’t argue against is the lower viscosity and higher resistance to temperatures. The main properties in synthetic oil result in 2% or better improvement in fuel economy and also reduce wear and tear on the engine.

Be sure to always consult a service tech before finalizing your decision.


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