The American Automobile Association (AAA) released a comprehensive research report announcing that “synthetic oil outperformed conventional oil by an average of nearly 50 percent in its independent evaluation, offering vehicles significantly better engine protection for only $5 more per month when following a factory-recommended oil change schedule.”
The Petroleum Quality Institute of America applauds AAA’s efforts to help educate consumers about motor oils and found their report to be very interesting and informative.
While PQIA believes most would agree that premium full synthetics do provide a higher level of engine protection than conventional motor oil, and there is bench and engine test data to support such claims, the devil is in the details. And although such details as the brands tested, why they were selected, and how the AAA defines “premium” among the brands tested are not made available in the research report, these are important factors to consider. This is particularly the case with regards to the definition of “premium” since a number of motor oil manufacturers now offer three tiers of synthetic motor oils, including synthetics, high mileage synthetics, and synthetics offering significant extensions in oil change intervals.
Further, PQIA feels it is important to note the following with regards to the eight industry-standard ASTM (American Society for Testing and Materials) tests the AAA used to evaluate the quality of synthetics and conventional engine oils:
- Some of the tests in the study are highly variable (i.e. MHT-4, 1 sigma can be as high as 15 units) and may not be included in the upcoming ILSAC GF-6 specification.
- The TFOUT is not an industry accepted test because it does not predict field performance as opposed to liking certain chemistries. The test has not been used as part of ILSAC Specifications which began in the early 1990’s.
- The value of KO Shear on a 5W-20 is minimal since oils are formulated at the top of specification and rarely shear out of grade, and are typically significantly above minimum. Directionally, however, a full synthetic motor oil would outperform a conventional.
- The TEOST 33 provides limited information to support claims about synthetics out performing conventional motor oils.
- The Brookfield test yields minimally valued insights in the performance differences between synthetic and conventional.
Another important point for consumers to consider is that the AAA report says “synthetic oil outperformed conventional oil by an average of nearly 50 percent in its independent evaluation, offering vehicles significantly better engine protection for only $5 more per month when following a factory-recommended oil change schedule.” PQIA advises consumers that a key part of this statement is “when following a factory-recommended oil change schedule.” As such, it does not say synthetic motor oils can last 50% longer.
Again, PQIA applauds the AAA for its efforts to help educate consumers about motor oils, and PQIA understands there is bench and engine test data to support the advantages of synthetics over conventional motor oil.
Links to related stories
Lubes-n-Greases -September 2015
Why Pay to Play by Rules that Don’t Exist?
Lubes-n-Greases September 2014
Lubes-n-Greases August 2014
Time to Close the Barn Door on “Synthetics”