Man-made or natural? For the majority of us, the instinctive choice would be the latter. From food and clothing to products and materials, terms such as “organic”, “genuine”, and “green” have become our quality indicators. We are taught that ‘natural’ is better.
But is it always?
A prime example is synthetic lubricants. Unlike traditional mineral oil, which originates from plants and animals that have been underground for millions of years, the synthetic version is created in a lab. This chemical compound couldn’t be further from natural, yet its popularity is growing.
In a synthetic formulation, the molecular structure is more uniform. It contains only medium-sized molecules as opposed to traditional mineral oil that has a combination of all sizes. The consistency results in less friction and improves three main characteristics of the lubricant:
- Viscosity – More stability in oil thickness.
- Base – Increased resistance to buildup.
- Volatility – Less vaporization of molecules.
These conditions create a product with more stamina, which has numerous benefits for the engine:
- Greater protection on all parts
- Cleaner interior
- Improved gas mileage with less drag
- Higher flash point
- Easier start in cold weather
- Reduces oil degradation and use
- Operate more efficiently in heat
- Longer periods between servicing
Synthetic lubricants are also environmentally friendly. With fewer impurities than mineral oil, the cleaner running engine helps to reduce emissions as well.
There are several features about synthetic oil that make it less appealing such as toxicity, compatibility with other products and materials, cost to dispose, and breaking down in water. However, the most noticeable disadvantage is the price. Whether by the drum or at the service station, synthetic oil costs approximately four times more than conventional.
What’s Right For You?
Whether you own a car, a fleet of trucks or a shop full of heavy-duty equipment, there is a lot to know when it comes to maintenance. While synthetic seems to be the superior option, the type of vehicle or equipment, age and use are all factors in choosing the right type of oil. There are also different grades of synthetic and mineral oils and some are a blend of both.
A fuel distributor can help you filter through all of the information and determine what’s best to promote optimal operating conditions. With a team of engineers who are certified lubricant experts, their services extend well beyond the range of high-quality lubricants, fluids and products they carry. As industry technology and processes change, they can work with you to provide:
- Equipment performance analysis
- Focused training
- Maintenance practice programs
- Technical support
- Oil analysis