Synthetic Oil Works Best under Hard Use

By Anson, Mike | The Washington Times (Washington, DC), January 24, 1997 | Go to article overview

Synthetic Oil Works Best under Hard Use


Anson, Mike, The Washington Times (Washington, DC)


Synthetic oil was originally developed for jet engines. Normal petroleum oil just couldn't handle the heat generated by the high-speed turbines. It has taken a long time for synthetic oil to get to motor vehicle engines, but it's here now.

High-performance cars are starting to come from the factory with synthetic oil in the crankcase. And more and more major oil companies are starting to offer synthetic oils. Some are even offering a half-step toward synthetic with blended oils - half petroleum and half synthetic in an effort to keep the costs down.

More than 25 years ago, a former jet fighter pilot named Al Amatusio started a company called Amsoil and began a crusade to develop synthetic oils for motor vehicles.

"I figured if it was good enough for jet engines, it should be outstanding for automobile and truck engines," he said in a recent interview. "Synthetic oils can be blended specifically to meet the needs of automobile engines.

"Motor oil is made up of carbon chains. In petroleum motor oil, those carbon chains are random. In synthetic motor oil, those carbon chains are just the way we want them. As a result, they can withstand extreme temperatures, both hot and cold and they don't leave any sludge on the inside of an engine.

"Essentially, we can improve on all the good things petroleum oil can do and take away the bad things. With synthetics, we can custom design the engine oil to do exactly what we want.

"We now have a 0W-30 motor oil," Mr. Amatusio said. "It will pour at minus 76 degrees F. That means that in a cold climate that oil will be able to circulate in that cold engine and protect it at start-up."

Race-car drivers have been using synthetic oil for many years. I had an experience where the oil pump drive belt on my race car came off and I ran two hard laps before I noticed oil pressure had gone away. Fortunately I was using synthetic oil. When we disassembled the engine expecting to find a disaster, we found nothing - it was fine. I was convinced and now I use synthetic motor oil in all my vehicles, even my grungy tow van.

Yes, it is more expensive, but I feel the added protection is worth it. The big question is: should you use synthetic motor oil? Here is the situation. If you drive your car or truck in a reasonable manner, use a good quality petroleum motor oil and change it when recommended, you should have no problem. Your engine should last for more than 100,000 miles. However, if you want that engine to last much longer and want it to be as clean as a pin when it comes time for new rings and bearings, you should consider using synthetic oil.

"We just completed a test on our new synthetic oil designed for over-the-road diesel trucks. We disassembled one of the test engines at 425,000 miles and there was virtually no wear," Mr. …

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