Last Updated on March 30, 2020 by Team TRA
Just a few decades ago, synthetic oils were rare and hard to find and we were stuck with conventional oil. However, the tables have turned and now you have a wide selection of various part and full synthetic oils to choose from. The best synthetic oils last for more miles, keep your engine cleaner, offer greater engine wear protection, perform better in high and low temperatures, and even help protect critical performance parts like turbochargers.
Comparison Table: 10 Best Synthetic Oils for 2020
Here in our comparison table, we’ve put all of the best synthetic motor oils from our review section in one easy to browse place. They are ranked in order of cost ascending to give you a simple way to check out features. Remember: Price isn’t everything, and most of these oils are pretty comparable at cost.
If you’re on a mobile device or small screen, just click the green plus symbols to expand the table and view more information.
|Castrol EDGE 5W-30 Motor Oil
|Valvoline SynPower 5w-20 Full Synthetic Motor Oil
|Mag 1 Full Synthetic 5W-30 Motor Oil
|Mobil Super 5W-30 Synthetic Motor Oil
|Royal Purple Synthetic Motor Oil
|Liqui Moly Premium Synthetic Motor Oil
|Shell Rotella T6 Diesel Synthetic Motor Oil
|Mobil 1 Extended Performance 5W-30 Motor Oil
|Pennzoil Platinum 5W-30 Full Synthetic Motor Oil
|Schaeffer Supreme 9000 Full Synthetic Engine Oil
Closer Look: 10 Best Synthetic Oil Products
Here are the best all-around synthetic motor oils to keep your vehicle running smoothly. They are in the same order as the table above to make it easy for you to reference.1. Castrol EDGE 5W-30 Motor Oil
- Cost: $0.14/oz
- Model: 03084
- Change Interval: 5000-7500
Castrol is an enormous corporation that is well-known all around the globe. They are one of the dominant forces when it comes to synthetic oil productions and you have probably seen their slogans and advertisements almost everywhere. Truth be told, they do make one of the best synthetic motor oils that is a safe choice for most car owners.
Castrol claims this is the best full synthetic money can buy. The Castrol EDGE is engineered with their titanium technology which physically changes the way the oil behaves at higher pressures. This technology doubles the oils film strength which ultimately reduces friction in your engine.2. Valvoline SynPower 5w-20 Full Synthetic Motor Oil
- Cost: $0.14/oz
- Model: 787023
- Change Interval: 5000-10,000
Another great brand when it comes to motor oil is Valvoline. Their SynPower line is full synthetic motor oil made with high-temperature protection and ultimate cleaning power. This baby packs a punch. It will help maintain the fuel efficiency of your vehicle as it ages.
This particular synthetic oil meets the requirements of virtually all the popular North American passenger vehicles, which means more than likely it is a great choice for you. Consumers have reported that Valvoline’s SynPower oil can last up to 10k miles- a bit more than the typically recommended mileage.3. Mag 1 Full Synthetic 5W-30 Motor Oil
- Cost: $0.17/oz
- Model: 61790
- Change Interval: 6000-12,000
Mag 1 has created a synthetic oil that has the leading OEM viscosity grade for fuel economy. What does this mean? It means this motor oil is going to help you get the most from your engine, and take you farther than the competition. It’s been chemically composed to have excellent resistance to cold start wear and will meet the specifications of most North American passenger vehicles. The best deal available for it right now is buying it in a pack of 6, which will last you a long time.4. Mobil Super 5W-30 Synthetic Motor Oil
- Cost: $0.21/oz
- Model: 113938
- Change Interval: 5000-7500
Another more affordable option comes from Mobil, again, this time their Super Synthetic Motor Oil. It is compatible with all standard oil filters and will give you great protection for your engine. If you’re still wanting Mobil quality without the Mobil 1 pricing- this is a safe bet. It will still get you between 5000 and 7500 miles per change.5. Royal Purple Synthetic Motor Oil
- Cost: $0.22/oz
- Model: 51530
- Change Interval: 7500-10,000
- New Gas Engine: After 3000 Miles
- New Diesel Engine: After 8000-10,000 Miles
Royal Purple’s line of synthetic oils and oil filters have received raving reviews from the auto community and is considered one of the best motor oils available. Their API licensed motor oil is fully compatible with other kinds of mineral and synthetic oils. This oil meets ILSAC GF-5 and Dexos1 performance requirements.
Because of the high solvency properties of this oil, you’ll want to run to short 3,000 mile intervals when switching to this motor oil. This will remove existing deposits and clean your engine. Then, you can move to the synthetic oil average change interval of 7,500 to 10,000 miles.
Even though Royal Purple is not a well know brand that uses catchy slogans and expensive advertising in order to promote their products, Royal Purple Synthetic Motor Oil is really exceptional. After numerous tests done by both experts and users who have been putting this oil in their engines, it became clear that this brand of synthetic oil is one of the best.6. Liqui Moly Premium Synthetic Motor Oil
- Cost: $0.22/oz
- Model: 2041
- Change Interval: 5000-7500
If you’re looking for a long-lasting synthetic oil that will do a lot to help protect the life of your engine against wear and tear, Liqui Moly is a great option for you. The lubrication qualities of this synthetic motor oil perform well even at high and low temperatures. It’s a safe option for those looking to get the most from their oil and take advantage of the opportunity to wait a long time between changes. With Liqui Moly, you’re getting premium-quality synthetic oil without paying for the name brand.7. Shell Rotella T6 Diesel Synthetic Motor Oil
- Cost: $0.26/oz
- Model: 550045347
- Change Interval: 5000-8000
For diesel engines, we recommend Shell Rotella’s T6 full synthetic motor oil product. Their Triple Protection Plus technology is perfect for robust diesel engines and is our pick for best diesel oil. It provides protection against deposits, oil breakdown, and wear/tear. Furthermore, it is a great oil for motorcycles and well-liked in the bike community.
Though it is slightly more expensive, if you have a quality eco diesel truck or touring bike, it’s well worth the extra dollars spent. Improved heat resistance, protection in extreme operating temperatures, deposit control, wear performance, and emissions system compatibility checks all the boxes for a well-performing synthetic oil.8. Mobil 1 Extended Performance 5W-30 Motor Oil
- Cost: $0.24/oz
- Model: 120766
- Change Interval: 9000-15,000
If you’re changing your oil yourself and looking for something that’s going to last you a good many miles, this product may be the one. Mobil 1 backs this advanced full synthetic formula with guaranteed protection of 15,000 miles. A Dexos1 licensed product, this oil helps prevent deposit buildups and won’t turn to sludge even if you’re flying around with a lead foot for 10,000+ miles.
Sometimes car owners will use an extremely high-quality synthetic oil like this, but choose to change it out every 7,000 miles or so to keep their engine running silky smooth. No doubt, Mobil 1’s premium oil is one of the best oils out there.9. Pennzoil Platinum 5W-30 Full Synthetic Motor Oil
- Cost: $0.29/oz
- Model: 550038221
- Change Interval: 7000-10,000
- Fuel Economy: Drive 550 More Miles a Year
Last but not least in our list of the best motor oil for cars we have a product from Pennzoil. Pennzoil is one of the purest formulas of full synthetic oil you can find on the market. Their platinum line makes up some of the best 5w30 oils on the market. It is also ideal for extreme temperatures and it will keep your engine running even if you decide it’s time to get the heck out of here and move to Alaska.
Due to these properties, Pennzoil is often used in racing and in motorsports. It can help you bring the best out of your engine and it will simultaneously protect it and keep it clean.
A large number of users have reported that Pennzoil Platinum line of full synthetics truly helps their cars, regardless of the age and the model. They might not be as vocal when it comes to advertising unlike some of the more prominent brands, but the experts at Pennzoil know what they are doing and this formula is very useful for the majority of car brands out there.10. Schaeffer Supreme 9000 Full Synthetic Engine Oil
- Cost: $0.51/oz
- Model: 9003D-012S
- Change Interval: 6000-10,000
Shaeffer Manufacturing Supreme 9000 5W-30 synthetic oil has great viscosity, resists thickening even in intense temperatures, and will provide the protection your engine needs even after thousands of miles of use. Shaeffer specializes in making their oil to surpass the competition when it comes to keeping vital parts of your engine free of sludge and oxidative thickening.
Benefits of Using One of the Best Synthetic Oils
What is the best motor oil? We think full synthetic oil is the way to go. You might be wondering right now why you should use a more expensive full synthetic oil. Well, there are plenty of benefits to forking over those extra dollars for one of those best full synthetic oils. If you have a high-performance engine or high mileage engine there’s a big benefit to going with one of these lab formulated products. We think if you care about your vehicle, preventative maintenance is the name of the game if you plan on taking care of it and doing your best to keep it running for as long as possible.
That being said, certain synthetic motor oils will perform better in specific makes and models. The combination of additives like anti-foaming and anti-wear agents should have an impact on your final decision. You’re driving habits, environmental conditions, and your existing lubricant compatibility options are a few other important things to consider before pulling the trigger on a synthetic oil.
There is a stark difference between synthetic oil and standard oil. Synthetic oils that are properly formulated possess a high degree of natural solvency, which can clean and remove deposits left by previous oils. That keeps your engine happy, sludge and deposit free, and as a result, running smoothly.
Here are some more benefits quality synthetics deliver on:
Reduce Oil Change Frequency
When you compare the frequency of intervals required between changes of a car running full synthetic, part synthetic, and standard oil, you’ll quickly find full synthetic is the least demanding. Not having to take your vehicle into an oil change shop (or doing it yourself) as often frees up your time to do other (less dirty) things.
- Standard conventional motor oil needs to be replaced after 3,000 miles, while the best synthetic oils can go up to 15,000 miles without changing.
- In some cases, users reported that they covered around 25,000 miles with a single change of synthetic oil, but we think that’s pushing it.
- We still recommend checking the oil dipstick every so often to see how clean your oil is running.
Healthy Engine, Healthy Car
Not only do you get a longer mileage between changes, but synthetic oil also takes better care of your engine during those miles. Certain formulas with high solvency act as a cleaning agent that will keep your engine clean and well lubricated in the long run.
Since oil circulates through the engine, it picks up the bits and pieces of dirt and debris that are often found in engines. These can clump up in certain oils and often damage your engine through added friction and eventually break it down.
A full synthetic oil will help your vehicle perform at its very best. Performance junkies may be sold on this point alone. If you want to know how good your engine really is, synthetic oil will bring the best out of your car. It is very slick and makes your engine work perfectly.
Some advocates even claim you’ll get increased horsepower and torque because of less drag on the engine as well as slightly improved fuel economy.
The only time you wouldn’t want to use synthetic oil is in new engines during the break-in period, because full synthetic is so slippery and this characteristic limits the natural wearing between mating parts that need to take place in a new engine.
The formula of synthetic oil makes it flow better in extreme temperatures. So when the temperature goes down in the wintertime, your car will still be running at maximum efficiency.
It is also resistant to viscosity breakdown and will remain optimally flowing regardless of how cold it is outside. Synthetic oil also works well in high temperatures. As you may have guessed, engines become very hot when they are running.
Synthetics are capable of resisting breakdown from:
- Excess heat
- Cold starts
- Chemical contaminants
Alternatives to Synthetic Oil
There are not many alternatives to synthetic oil out there at the moment. If the price of full synthetic oil is prohibitive, you can always go for a semi-synthetic (aka synthetic blend) oil. It might not be as high quality but it still does the job and typically lasts longer than the conventional oil.
Synthetic blends are made by mixing the traditional mineral oil with synthetic oil and the final result is a somewhat diluted full synthetic. These blends are a great middle of the road option. They don’t last as long as full synthetic oil, but it still outruns conventional oil.
A quality conventional oil is not going to cause your engine to spontaneously explode, but there’s quite a bit of data out there indicating it is far from optimal.
Bio-Based Motor Oil
There is another interesting alternative to synthetic oil — bio-based motor oil — but it still in development stages and requires a lot more testing and research. Vegetable-based motor oils could be seen as a more environmentally friendly option.
A group of scientists at Purdue University who are very concerned about the environment has developed a one of a kind of motor oil that incorporates vegetable (canola-based) oil. As a matter of fact, they claim the engine runs better on this oil.
But of course, there always has to be a drawback.
The oil from vegetable products would cost a lot more and the mass production of this type of oil would require enormous investment. It may be some time before we see bio-based motor oil become cost-competitive with conventionals and synthetics.
Green Earth Technologies has a decent bio-based motor oil that is formulated from tallow and coconut oil. If you’re interested in a bio-based oil we’d recommend their product. As far as performance goes when compared to a full synthetic, it is difficult to say how this new category will perform this early in the game.
What to Look for When Buying Synthetic Oil
Is there a best motor oil brand? We think you could ask a dozen people and get a dozen answers on this one. We suggest looking at the products offered within each brand, as each brand has its own winners and losers.
Before you buy synthetic oil, you need to pay close attention to a couple of important things such as:
It is the formula resistance to flow and the numbers will vary from product to product. There are always two numerals on the packaging. The first numeral rates the flow of oil at 0 degrees Fahrenheit, while the second one measures the viscosity at 212 degrees Fahrenheit. These numbers are referred to as the SAE (Society of Automotive Engineers) viscosity number which will tell you if that particular oil has passed the Energy Conserving test.
Read the Labels
The labels often have instructions as to what type of car a certain synthetic oil should be used for. There are plenty of oil types designed for different motors such as:
- High-tech engine
- New cars
- Higher-mileage vehicles
- Diesel engines
- Motorcycles, etc.
Go through your vehicle owner’s manual or do a little research online before you make a purchase and you will have absolutely no problems. Look for the API donut which tells you if the oil meets current SL service ratings.
Oil Additives & Type
Different brands use unique compositions of oil additives in their synthetic oil products. In this case, more is not better. Yes, additives can help you out with some issues such as rust, dirt, lubrication, etc. But which is the optimal combination? Well, each brand will tell you theirs is. Here are the most common additives found in engine oil: dispersants, anti-foaming agents, antioxidants, conditioners, corrosion inhibitors, and anti-wear agents.
The second factor is the type of synthetic. Do you want a full synthetic oil, synthetic blend, or a higher mileage oil? Though we usually trend towards recommending full synthetic oils, these are designed for very high-tech engines like Chevy Corvettes or BMWs. You may not really need it and can save yourself some bucks going with a synthetic blend.
General Thoughts on Spending the Extra Money for a Higher Quality Synthetic
Pressures in today’s engines have almost doubled in the last three decades. That means pressure can reach 10 tons per square centimeter. You need a strong oil to protect your engine from all that pressure and friction. Furthermore, some of us often forget how long it been since we changed the oil, and end up pushing it a bit. You don’t want to waste money changing it too often either, but the fact remains that sometimes your car needs an oil change after a very short period of time due to poor environmental or driving conditions.
A full synthetic motor oil acts as an insurance policy against these antagonists. Not only will it last longer, but it will also reduce the risk of a critical breakdown and needing to hire a mechanic who charges $200 just to look under the hood. Is the extra money for a high-quality synthetic really worth it? Read about synthetic vs conventional oil.
Head to Head: Conventional VS Synthetic Motor Oil
Are you still wondering about why you should choose synthetic oil? Or just looking for an easier alternative to learn about what synthetic oil is? Donut Media welcomes you to the Science Garage in this video where they break down the basics of motor oil and get into the nitty-gritty about synthetics.
Having a car is a big responsibility. Most of us simply can’t buy a new car whenever we feel like it. Therefore, it is important to prolong the life of your car as much as possible. Just like your Dad told you, preventative maintenance is the way to keep rolling. Synthetic oil can be a great ally because it takes care of your vehicle from the inside. The engine will be running better than it ever did before and it will last you for years to come.