The use of synthetic motor oil compared to the general petroleum type has been the center of many discussions throughout the years. While there have always been two sides, each favoring their choice, there is no question that synthetic oil is superior. However, is that superiority a needed benefit in a motorhome application, and can the greater cost even be justified?
Well, first of all, it is important to understand that today’s petroleum motor oils are far better than those that were available decades ago. They all contain specially developed additives that produce excellent results in the lubrication, cleaning and cooling of today’s close tolerance engine clearances. There is absolutely no reason to believe that this oil is not capable of operating for the life of the vehicle providing the required changes and related maintenance is carried out as specified by the engine maker.
Synthetic Motor Oil Upsides
So why would anybody pay three or four times more money for the synthetic brand? What are some of the benefits that this may deliver?
- Ability to operate better in extreme temperatures. Synthetic oil maintains its viscosity far better than that of regular petro types when exposed to sub-zero temperatures. Additionally, it performs better and resists coking at extreme temperatures.
- Synthetic oil adheres better to cylinder walls and like components during long idle periods. This feature is of particularly advantage for the RV application, given the usage frequency. (Engine manufactures state that up to 90% of wear is attributed to start up.)
- Synthetic oil has less of a tendency to evaporate at high temperatures. Evaporation results in thickening the lubrication oil.
- Synthetic oil definitely runs cooler due to reduced friction.
- Synthetic oil does not oxidize and form sludge over time.
However, all that said, either product will do the job. The synthetic oil is more forgiving in cases such as the operator of a turbo-equipped engine shutting down while still extremely hot, the need to extend an oil change schedule (not recommended as a practice), and perhaps reducing fuel consumption. (Not easily measured).
Synthetic Motor Oil on Balance
So, as it would appear, there are tangible benefits derived from spending the extra bucks for synthetic oil, but probably not substantial enough to warrant the increased cost. But don’t believe anyone who says there is no difference. Given the choice at the same cost, they would all go for it, too. If they say they wouldn’t, they are probably not being truthful with themselves.
Peter Mercer — With a Look From The Grease Pit