Why Is Quality Motor Oil So Important?

August 8th, 2015

Oil Changes in Lafayette, LAConsider for a moment what’s required of your motor oil. It has to provide a film of lubrication between metal parts, so that they can freely move against each other without friction, overheating or damage. It has to trap the carbon byproducts of combustion and suspend them so they can be trapped by the paper element in your oil filter. It has to neutralize the acids that are produced during the combustion process. It also has to reduce heat in parts of the engine that aren’t surrounded by a water jacket for cooling. It can’t get too thick in the winter, which would make it hard to circulate on a cold day, but it can’t thin out too much in the summer either. That’s a lot to ask of one substance!

Older motor oils didn’t include additives like detergents and other modifiers that could help it do its job better. Those older motor oils needed to be changed much more frequently; along with the fact that most engines didn’t feature oil filters or even an oil pump (before the mid-1950's, at least), an engine would have to be “de-coked” periodically by running a thin mixture of kerosene and oil in the crankcase. This would hopefully dislodge any buildups of carbon and gunk from bearings and other critical moving parts, but nonetheless, wear was so accelerated that most engines needed a rebuild by 80,000 miles.

In WWII, piston-engine technology was pushed to its limits with the high-performance engines in fighter planes. The jet aircraft that came along right after the war presented an even greater challenge when it came to lubrication. Engine designers soon found that conventional mineral-based oils weren’t up to the task, and they started to develop the first synthetic motor oils. Today, synthetic oil has evolved to a point where it’s superior to conventional motor oil in just about every respect. It flows better at low temperatures, it doesn’t thin out at higher temperatures, it’s stable enough to not break down at the molecular level as quickly, and it traps small particles of carbon and other impurities much better.

Synthetic motor oil is about twice as expensive per quart as conventional mineral-based oil, but the tradeoff comes in the fact that it can easily go 10,000 miles between changes, rather than the 3,000-5,000 miles of conventional oil.

As engine technology has advanced, the technology that goes into motor oil has had to keep pace. While synthetic oil may be expensive, studies prove conclusively that it pays off with reduced engine wear and longer service life. Synthetics can be a great choice for older vehicles with high miles, or new cars – the choice is up to you, but the facts are clear. Schedule an appointment with Chabill's Tire & Auto Service for outstanding oil changes and auto repair in Lafayette, LA. Maintain regular repairs for top vehicle performance! 

  Posted in: Auto Repair 101