Synthetic Oil Beats Conventional in AAA Test

My mother took the Culligan Man to task not long ago. Not the flesh-and-blood Culligan Man, but the actor on...

July 6, 2017

My mother took the Culligan Man to task not long ago. Not the flesh-and-blood Culligan Man, but the actor on TV.

A Culligan Water Systems ad on TV showed a young mother and her child. Suddenly, ominous music played as the mother drew tap water from her faucet. A voice-over warned of potential impurities lurking in our water…and what they could mean to our family.

The voice-over, now much more chipper, then announced that Culligan was offering free water-quality testing. Here was our chance to protect our families…to save the children.

My mother scoffed. “Yeah, and then they’ll just say your water is bad and try and sell you something.”

Let’s get this third-party started

My mom’s attitude is something we’ve run into at AMSOIL a time or two.

We’ve published test results showing the superiority of synthetic lubricants compared to conventional lubricants for years. Not just AMSOIL synthetic motor oil, but other synthetic oils as well. I told you about some of those tests in this blog post. In a nutshell, synthetics offer improved wear protection, engine cleanliness, cold-flow and resistance to viscosity loss than conventional oils. That translates into a longer-lasting, higher-performing engine.

But our test results don’t convince some people. Skeptics demand proof from an objective third party. Anything else is thinly disguised marketing meant to sell you something. Kind of like my mother with the water-quality test.

The American Automobile Association (AAA), a reputable, third-party organization, recently published an in-depth report that affirms what we’ve been saying for more than 45 years: synthetics outperform conventional oil. In conducting its test, AAA sought to determine if it’s worth paying more for synthetic oil over conventional oil.

The answer is a resounding “yes.”

Here’s what John Nielsen, AAA’s managing director of Automotive Engineering and Repair, said:

Oil protects critical engine components from damage and AAA found that synthetic engine oils performed an average of 47 percent better than conventional oils in a variety of industry-standard tests. With its superior resistance to deterioration, AAA’s findings indicate that synthetic oil is particularly beneficial to newer vehicles with turbo-charged engines and for vehicles that frequently drive in stop-and-go traffic, tow heavy loads or operate in extreme hot or cold conditions.

AAA Testing

AAA’s research included eight industry-standard ASTM tests focusing on the following:

  • Shear stability
  • Deposit formation
  • Volatility
  • Cold-temperature pumpability
  • Oxidation resistance
  • Oxidation-induced rheological changes

Each test was performed on five synthetic and five conventional oils. Unfortunately, they don’t reveal which oils they tested.

Here’s a look at some of the results.

Extreme-heat resistance

The NOACK Volatility Test determines the evaporation loss of lubricants in high-temperature service. The more motor oils vaporize, the thicker and heavier they become, contributing to poor circulation, reduced fuel economy, increased oil consumption and wear. The lower the number, the better the resistance to vaporization.

As you can see, the synthetic oils (the green bars) demonstrated lower volatility than the conventional oils (the blue bars). That translates into a cleaner, better-running engine for you.

Deposit resistance

The Thermo-Oxidation Engine Oil Simulation Test (ASTM D6335) determines the deposit-resisting properties of lubricants in high-temperature service. Motor oils can form deposits when exposed to increased heat, reducing efficiency and contributing to poor overall performance. The lower the number, the better the resistance to deposit formation.

Here, two of the conventional oils failed to limit deposits below the minimum standard to meet the ILSAC GF-5 specification, while all the synthetic oils remained under the threshold.

For years we’ve been saying synthetic oils outperform conventional oils. The AAA report offers yet another example of just how much better synthetics are for your vehicles.

Even my mother can’t scoff at that.