For the most part, you should be changing the standard oil in your vehicle at least every 3,000 miles. On average, most people run their vehicles through thousands of miles of travel in an average year. This includes trips to and from work, fun excursions, and car journeys to see family during the holidays. 3,000 miles might not seem like much, but it adds up when you consider the price of oil changes. What if you could cut down on the needed amount of oil changes? This is where the best synthetic engine oils really shine. With these products, you will only have to change your oil every 7,000 to 10,000 miles or so.
Types of Synthetic Engine Oil
Synthetic engine oil can come in a few different viscosities. These can differ, some will be 5W-30 and others will be 15W-40. Which viscosity that your car needs will greatly vary based on the model, but it’s always best to pick the right viscosity so that your engine can perform at its best.
What Makes Synthetic Motor Oil Shine?
Believe it or not, synthetic motor oil originates as traditional, mineral-based motor oil. What makes this solution synthetic is the processing that traditional engine oil undergoes in order to be refined to the synthetic standard. Synthetic engine oil is simply more engineered than traditional oil. Here’s why it’s so good:
- Cold Weather Performance – Even under extremely cold conditions that fall under -40 degrees Fahrenheit, synthetic motor oil tends to be much less viscous than mineral-based motor oil. Blended, mineral-based oil, during tests, simply takes longer to pour and become usable by your engine. This means that for those living in areas with harsher winters, synthetic motor oils can simply get your car started and ready to go at a much faster rate.
Additionally, since conventional mineral-based motor oils use wax in their blend, they tend to actually accumulate blobs when it gets cold, which greatly reduces performance in cold weather.
- Hot Weather Performance – When a car is exposed to temperatures greater than 100 degrees Fahrenheit, the interior oil inside your car can evaporate over time; in fact, the already high temperatures that accompany just running your engine will also cause this to happen. Fortunately, synthetic motor oils are designed to withstand a higher level of heat than mineral-based oils so that you won’t have to worry about excess engine wear.
- Better Lubrication – Your engine needs lubrication in order to avoid wear on its grinding components, and while standard oil provides this function, synthetic just simply does a better job. They simply offer better engine longevity and viscosity over time so that you won’t have to worry about replacing expensive engine components. These oils are just designed to provide a high level of lubrication that isn’t possible under standard oil.
- A Cleaner Engine – Standard oil has a wide variety of minerals in it that, over time, will leave deposits on your engine’s components. This is where the dreaded engine sludge comes from. These sludge deposits will reduce your engine’s efficiency and reduce the overall life of your engine. Since synthetic oil is engineered to significantly cut the impurities that are found in mineral-based oils, there is simply less sludge over time with synthetic oils. As a result, engines that use this type of oil tend to have far less deposits.
Best Design Feature
Mobil 1 120764 Synthetic Motor Oil 5W-30, 5 Quart
Mobil 1 runs excellently at low temperatures.
Valvoline 782256 MaxLife SAE 5W-30 High Mileage Motor Oil – 5 Quart
This engine oil actually works to rejuvenate aging engine seals.
Pennzoil 550038331-3PK Ultra Platinum 10W-30 Full Synthetic Motor Oil – 5 Quart Jug, (Case of 3)
This is a great product to protect your engine’s performance in both high and cold extremes of temperature.
Royal Purple 51530 API-Licensed SAE 5W-30 High-Performance Synthetic Motor Oil – 5 qt.
Royal Purple provides protection for your catalytic emission system as well.
Mobil 1 (120766) Extended Performance 5W-30 Motor Oil – 5 Quart
For higher performance vehicles, this product will prevent engine sludge.
Shell Rotella 550019907-3PK T5 10W40 Synthetic Blend Heavy Duty Engine Oil – 1 Gallon Jug (Pack of 3)
For the performance, Shell Rotella is very reasonably priced.
Castrol 03087 EDGE Extended Performance 5W-30 Synthetic Motor Oil – 5 Quart
Amazingly, this product will allow you to go 15,000 miles between oil changes.
1) Mobil 1 120764 Synthetic Motor Oil 5W-30, 5 Quart
Mobil is one of the leaders in engine oil lubrication manufacturing. Their 120764 is a well-engineered product that will keep your car well-lubricated, regardless of extremes in the weather. As a matter of fact, when it comes to the colder extremes, this product performs at one of the highest levels of all of the products in this guide. Additionally, in our tests, we found that this particular synthetic engine oil has an excellent thermal and oxidation stability.
Engine oil naturally degrades over time; usually as a result of deposits forming and simple evaporation. Amazingly, this product will provide the same performance on its last day of use before a change as it did on its first day of use. Simply put, this product does an overall great job at extending the life of your engine; even if your vehicle is subject to extreme weather conditions.
2) Valvoline 782256 MaxLife SAE 5W-30 High Mileage Motor Oil – 5 Quart
The Valvoline MaxLife series has been known for its excellent stability and ability to deliver excellent lubrication to your engine’s internal components. Its ability to actually restore the seals on your engine is also a unique feature that adds value to MaxLife. Friction damage is one of the leading causes of engine part replacements. In our testing, we found that this Maxlife product actually provides high levels of protection from this damage.
Additionally, Valvoline also has used several proprietary special additives in their MaxLife series that will actually help reduce engine buildups like sludge and deposits. This prevents oil burn-off before it can occur and will also reduce the opportunity for leaks to form. As a result, if you have an older car, using this MaxLife product will keep you on the road even longer due to its revitalizing properties.
3) Pennzoil 550038331-3PK Ultra Platinum 10W-30 Full Synthetic Motor Oil – 5 Quart Jug, (Case of 3)
While $140 might seem like a bit much for engine oil, it’s important to note that this product as well as our sixth choice, comes in a pack of three. That being said, this is still one of the more expensive synthetic engine oils out there. Despite this, the Pennzoil 550038331Ultra Platinum is still a great investment if you are looking to maintain the engine of a high-performance vehicle; in fact, this product is recognized by professionals for providing some of the best lubrication for vehicles that operate in tough conditions.
The Pennzoil 550038331 is one of the most stable products on the market today. Its signature formulation works exceptionally well in conditions where other oils would be either too viscous to lubricate or too hot to maintain cohesion. We really loved the fact that this particular product is designed to deliver an additional 500 miles per year between oil changes.
4) Royal Purple 51530 API-Licensed SAE 5W-30 High-Performance Synthetic Motor Oil – 5 qt.
Royal Purple is one of our favorite synthetic engine oils. Firstly, it doesn’t quite have the name of some of the big boys in the industry, but this particular product is no slouch when it comes to overall performance. We found its overall wear protection to be one of the best available in synthetic engine oils.
Do you find yourself using fuels with ethanol as an additive? The Royal Purple 51530 actually works excellent with ethanol; as a matter of fact, it is one of the most compatible products for this fuel additive. This Royal Purple product also does an excellent job protecting the catalytic emission system of your car. For those that don’t know, this system is one of the most expensive systems to find replacement parts for, so any protection is going to be very valuable to the life of your car.
We also love the fact that this Royal Purple product is fully compatible with other engine oils. This means that if you end up deciding to make the change, you’ll be able to do it without any special procedures.
5) Shell Rotella 550019907-3PK T5 10W40 Synthetic Blend Heavy Duty Engine Oil – 1 Gallon Jug (Pack of 3)
When you live in areas that are exposed to cold temperatures, oils that thicken too much will actually cause additional engine wear. This Shell Rotella product actually does a great job at staying liquid enough to be distributed easily throughout your engine so that it can still achieve a high level of lubrication under extreme weather conditions. Additionally, its formulation also provides exceptional engine cleanliness and reduces deposits and ash.
We really liked the extra fuel economy that this product seems to deliver. This is a perfect feature for those who have cars that are beginning to lose burn through fuel faster. In addition to all of this, this oil is a great budget pick; it doesn’t cost a lot yet still provides some genuine engine protection.
6) Mobil 1 (120766) Extended Performance 5W-30 Motor Oil – 5 Quart
In a highway simulator, this Mobil 1 product was tested under a one million kilometer conditions. During the test, there were 48 oil drain intervals to test whether or not engine components are truly protected by this extended performance product. When examined, there was very little wear or deposits on components like the timer, the rotor, the lifters, or any of the other components. This is an impressive performance and it really illustrates the lubrication capability of this product.
Similarly to the other Mobil 1 product in this guide, this oil also works well under extremely cold conditions. During our own tests, we found that the oil still worked excellently in conditions that were even colder than -40 degrees Fahrenheit. As was proven in that independent test, this product does excellently when it comes to preventing buildup and sludge and it even provides 15,000 miles of guaranteed protection.
7) Castrol 03087 EDGE Extended Performance 5W-30 Synthetic Motor Oil – 5 Quart
Our final product delivers some of the highest mileage between oil changes of all of the products in this guide. According to Castrol, you can go a full 15,000 miles between oil changes with this product, and our own testing seems to verify this claim. Additionally, this product has an actual titanium additive that adds additional wear protection to your engine.
Since engine pressures have doubled in the last 30 years, Castrol has developed this oil to withstand these high pressures. The titanium in the oil is soluble so that the oil can provide a stronger overall oil film strength. With a stronger oil film, your engine’s components will be able to stay lubricated, which will add years to the life of your engine. In our own tests, this Titanium FST technology really did provide some excellent performance, but it worked at a similar level to other oils in this guide. That being said, the Castrol 03087 EDGE extended performance oil is still and excellent product.
Synthetic engine oil is simply best for those who desire the optimal performance out of their vehicles. Each of the products that we tested for this guide is excellent and will not only have you not having to change your oil as often, but will also provide high performance and great lubrication for your engine so that it lasts longer. Simply put, each will deliver excellent performance, but if we were to select the best of the best, we’d pick the Royal Purple 51530 API-Licensed SAE 5W-30 as our favorite.
This engine oil is excellent for high-performance vehicles and it also has a wide variety of available viscosities so that you can easily find a match for your specific engine. It’s a bit on the expensive side, especially compared to some of the other products that we’ve featured, but this added expense is well worth it when compared to the engine wear that this product prevents. Royal Purple isn’t as well-known a brand, but this product more than kept up with its more famous competitors.
While engine oil isn’t technically expensive, it doesn’t hurt to save a few extra dollars, right? In our tests, we found that the Shell Rotella (550019921) T6 5W-40 Full Synthetic, Heavy Duty Diesel Engine Oil was an absolutely excellent low-cost option for engine oil. It only costs about $24 per bottle and it does a great job at reducing internal engine wear and tear. This is a great cost-effective way of extending your engine’s life significantly.