Is Synthetic Oil Worth It?
OEM specifications usually cover the recommended oil for each type of machine they manufacture. Sometimes these are just guidelines, other times they are a requirement to remain in warranty. While synthetic oil is marketed as having superior performance, that’s not true in all cases and for all machinery. Some mineral oil formulations actually perform better than their synthetic counterparts under certain conditions.
In general, synthetic oil does have advantages, but the primary disadvantage is the cost. This raises the question: Is synthetic oil worth the extra cost?
Following are some advantages of synthetic oil over mineral:
- The most widely known advantage is the longer lifespan which means fewer regularly scheduled oil changes. Companies that take advantage of oil analysis to determine when to change out the oil, base those changes on actual condition rather than a predetermined number of operating hours.
- In certain conditions, such as fuel and water contamination, the presence of metal particles, and extreme heat; synthetic oils are less susceptible to degradation/oxidation than conventional mineral oils. This degradation can lead to detrimental conditions such as sludge, varnish, corrosion, and if not remediated, impaired machinery performance.
- Synthetics have a naturally higher VI (viscosity index). This means the viscosity tends to be more stable over temperature fluctuations than mineral oil. Viscosity that is too high will lead to lack of oil circulation, lubricant starvation and ultimately engine failure.
- Synthetic engine oils are generally less volatile than mineral oil counterparts. So, less oil loss through the machine’s exhaust system (cleaner burning) and less need for make-up oil between changes.
While the prospect of fewer oil changes is enticing, the main downside to synthetic oil is the cost, which can run at least twice the price of conventional mineral-based oil.
For a deeper dive into this topic, Eurofins TestOil has an insightful webinar that covers the difference between synthetic and mineral oils.
So, is synthetic oil worth the extra cost in industrial machinery? This is something that ultimately only your oil analysis provider will be able to tell you. However, not all labs have this capability on staff. Eurofins TestOil analysts are recognized industry experts that can answer multi-faceted questions like this. In fact, they can audit every aspect of your oil analysis program on site.
With more than 30 years of experience in the oil analysis industry, Eurofins TestOil, focuses exclusively on assisting industrial facilities with reducing maintenance costs and avoiding unexpected downtime through oil analysis program implementation. As industry experts in diagnosing oil-related issues in equipment such as turbines, hydraulics, gearboxes, pumps, compressors and diesel generators, Eurofins TestOil provides customers with a guarantee of same-day turnaround on all routine testing. Eurofins TestOil PRO certified lubrication professionals educate the industry on oil analysis through public and private onsite training. These highly experienced professionals provide a variety of onsite services; from collecting oil samples to conducting failure analyses to writing work orders. For more information on partnering with Eurofins TestOil on oil analysis programs or training opportunities visit https://testoil.com. Contact: Michael Barrett 216-251-2510; firstname.lastname@example.org.
 From an excellent Machinery Lubrication article: Synthetic Oils: Digging Deeper. May be available at: