AKRON (March 1, 2017) — When it comes to engine oils, the old adage — "You get what you pay for" — rings true, according to a panel of industry experts who discussed the benefits of synthetic oils during the Automotive Aftermarket Parts Expo show in Las Vegas last November.
For auto shops that provide oil changes, the variety and types of oils available, and recommended, for various vehicle models can be mind-boggling.
However, more and more new vehicle models are requiring synthetic oils which, though more expensive, offer better engine performance than conventional oil, according to the panel of oil company and service shop representatives.
- This piece appears in the Feb. 27 print edition of Tire Business.
Synthetic motor oil is categorized as a Group 3 oil, whereas conventional mineral oil is a Group 2 and fully synthetic PAO, usually used for race cars, is Group 4.
While conventional oil will continue to dominate the U.S. engine oil market through 2025, according to Freedonia Group research, demand for fully synthetic engine oils is expected to increase 5 percent annually to 148 million gallons by 2020.
In 2015, fully synthetic products comprised 11 percent of engine oil demand, nearly all for the automotive market, according to Freedonia, which noted that increasing penetration of synthetics into the engine oils market will allow demand for synthetic products to continue growing, despite overall flatness in engine oil demand.
"Synthetics can cost more than twice as much as conventional products, and the benefits conferred by synthetics may be unclear to consumers or not worth the expense," Freedonia analyst Minor Cline said in a recent report, noting that since all lubricants must be licensed as meeting the performance requirements needed for use, even the lowest cost conventional oils are certified to protect engines from wear.
AAPEX panel participant Mark Mathias, chief sales officer for Bizol Lubricants, argued that while synthetic oil is often three times the price of conventional mineral-based oil, "it is very stable. It has great flowability. It has a resistance to pressure. It won't split. It has a long life (as much as 30,000 miles in some cars)" and a low evaporation loss.
"So all these things make for a better oil for your cars," he said.
"All OEMs now are specifying a synthetic oil, whether that's hydrocrack or a PAO (Group 3 or a Group 4 oil)," he told the audience of service technicians and jobbers.