A Synthetic Lease of Life for Internal Combustion Passenger Cars


As the consumer orientation drifts towards environmentally safer and sustainable means of transportation, emission standards around the world and especially in the Middle East, have followed suit to achieve higher fuel economy requirements. This directly implies the increased acceptance of thinner viscosity grades.

The market expects that every new car, pickup, or an SUV must take us further while consuming less fuel. Auto manufacturers have responded by building economical engines, lighter yet safer cars while not compromising on the horsepower. Most importantly, they’ve also pivoted towards using synthetic oil, which makes a considerable difference.

According to Stratistics MRC, the Global Synthetic Lubricants Market is accounted for $28.32 billion in 2017 and is expected to reach $45.48 billion by 2026 growing at a CAGR of 5.4% from 2017 to 2026.

What is Synthetic?

The prefix “synthetic” is misleading, and there is a misconception that it is substandard to mineral oils. In reality, it is quite the opposite. Made with a whole assortment of performance additives and base oils, synthetic engine oil molecules are uniform in shape, size, and help the engine perform better than mineral-based oils.
Almost all the latest internal combustion engines use synthetic oils because they last longer than mineral oils, and thus, protect the engine from wear and tear caused by excessive metal surface-to-surface contact. Synthetic oils outscore mineral oils in extremely hot temperatures by exhibiting greater oxidation stability, and they don’t evaporate as quickly as their mineral counterpart. In cold weather conditions, they tend to flow faster to all the vital engine parts because of their inherent properties. The result is—better and longer-lasting engine protection. 
Enabling Turbocharged Engines

Turbocharged engines are tougher on engine oil than non-turbo cousins. Only synthetic oils can lubricate the shaft, withstand the intense heat, and regulate the deposits while turbo engines spin at 200,000 revs a minute.
Facilitating Smaller Engines

Synthetic oils are making engine downsizing possible while not compromising on the output. Recently, General Motors used dexos1™ Gen 2 synthetic oil specification to protect small-displacement turbo-engines for low speed, pre-ignition conditions. 

Synthetics are crucial to producing low-viscosity, high-grade engine oils—0W-20, 0W-30, and still to come 0W-16. Manufacturers are experimenting with engines oils with viscosity levels as low as 0W-8 which are fully synthetic in their formulation. Conventional mineral oils can only do so much. In Japan, the 0W-20 grade has been the norm for many years, and only recently, the U.S. and EU counterparts are have caught up. The upcoming ILSAC GF-6, a specification standard for engine oils, will ensure synthetics become the norm.
Synthetic oil in the Middle East

The severe climate in the Middle East is severe even for engine lubricants as it is for the population residing in this region. The heat poses real challenges for motor oils.
Synthetic oil is more highly refined and highly saturated than mineral oil which proves benefits for oxidation stability. Additionally, the usage of unique detergents and additives in the oil provides better protection against the stress of high RPMs on a hot summer’s day. 

Another feature of synthetics that makes it preferable over other standard oil is its resistance to foaming and thinning and this makes it viable for its usage in very high engine temperatures. OEMs today are specifying synthetic oil for even day to day driving due to close tolerances, high temperatures, and high pressures generated by modern engines.

To summarize, synthetics oils, along with newer engine technologies, will help OEMs comply with stringent fuel economy regulations while keeping the engines running longer by preventing wear. And if you’re hitting the race track or towing on a regular basis, one of the best summer oil choices you can make is to switch to a full-synthetic formulation.

*Source: Lubricant Additives Chemistry and Applications p.542:

†“Synthetic basestocks tend to be more resistant to chemical and thermal degradation than mineral base stocks.” 

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About the Author: Dave has over a decade of lubricants experience in Research, Product Development, and technical workshop training. He has a passion for science, and Dave has held various technical positions as a scientist from Greases to Passenger Car and Motorcycle Engine Oils. He loves to talk oils and science, and has been involved in several training workshops giving reason to why people should be excited and care about oils and additives. He’s currently the Consumer Brand Technical and OEM Manager where he’ll be developing the Havoline Engine Oils and Aftermarket Fuel Additives product strategy for the globe. Dave will interface with technology, business colleagues, and customers in support of Consumer Brands. Dave has a Ph. D. in Chemistry, Patents on lubricant composition and manufacture, and extensive engine oil formulation experience.

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