OilSands Discovery

Types of motor oil

There are some general motor oil types:

Mineral motor oil

Mineral-based oil is simply a heavily refined version of oil sourced from the ground, semi-synthetic oil is a similar substance but with artificial additives while purely synthetic is essentially man-made and designed oil.

Full synthetic motor oil

Synthetic motor oil has gone through a chemically engineered process. Synthetic oil molecules are more uniform in shape with fewer impurities and better properties than conventional oil molecules. In general, synthetic oil has better extreme high temperature and low temperature performance. Synthetic oils are generally formulated with higher performing additives.

Full synthetic oil is ideal for vehicles that demand peak level performance and high levels of lubrication. Full synthetic oil provides higher viscosity levels, resistance to oxidation and thermal breakdown, and helps fight against oil sludge. Plus, it helps improve fuel efficiency and can even increase a vehicle’s horsepower by reducing engine drag.

Synthetic blend motor oil

Synthetic blend motor oil uses a mixture of synthetic and conventional base oils for added resistance to oxidation (compared to conventional oil) and provide excellent low-temperature properties.

Synthetic blend oil offers the best of both worlds. It has many of the characteristics of full synthetic oil, but at a much lower price. This type of oil is a mixture of synthetic and conventional base oils, plus some additives, for extra resistance to oxidation and excellent low-temperature properties. Synthetic blends make it easy for drivers to make the switch from conventional to synthetic oil, which is why this type of oil is becoming increasingly popular among today’s savviest drivers. It’s also a great middle ground for drivers who want the added protection and performance of a synthetic oil, but might not be ready to foot the bill for a total switch to full synthetic oil.

Conventional motor oil

Conventional motor oils can be formulated in a range of viscosity grades and quality levels. Conventional motor oil is recommended for drivers with simple engine designs and regular (as opposed to severe) driving styles.

Conventional oil is the most commonly used type of oil. It is ideal for light-duty, late-model cars with low to average mileage and a simple engine design.

High mileage motor oil

High-mileage motor oil is specially formulated for late model vehicles or newer vehicles with over 120,000 kilometers. High mileage motor oil, with its unique additives and formulation, helps to reduce oil burn-off, and helps prevent oil leaks that may occur in older engines.

High mileage oil is specifically designed for cars with more than 75,000 miles. This type of oil can help reduce oil consumption, minimize leaks and oil seepage, and can also help reduce smoke and emissions in older engines.

Motor oil additives

Motor oil additives have three basic roles:

  1. Enhance existing base oil properties with antioxidants, corrosion inhibitors, anti-foam agents and demulsifying agents.
  2. Suppress undesirable base oil properties with pour-point depressants and viscosity index (VI) improvers.
  3. Impart new properties to base oils with extreme pressure (EP) additives, detergents, metal deactivators and tackiness agents.

Types of oil additives

Motor oils typically include a few additives which can make up between 5% and 30% of the oil. These additives help enhance the performance of the oil. Motor oils can include the following additives:

Pour-point depressants

This additive has nothing to do the actual pouring of your oil. In fact, pour-point depressants help prevent the wax particles in the oil from hardening in cold conditions. As a result, the motor oil flows freely even in low, cold temperatures and the engine doesn’t need to work any harder to pump it.


This additive isn’t like your laundry detergent! It focuses on preventing deposits, rust, and corrosion from forming on the piston ring area, piston under-crown, and other surfaces that tend to overheat.

Foam inhibitors

This additive does exactly what it sounds like. Foam inhibitors keep motor oil from forming foam and bubbles. If foam and bubbles were to form, the oil would be unable to coat the important parts of the engine and keep it cool.


Antioxidant additives work to slow oxidation and the forming of deposits in motor oil. They also help keep the engine clean and extend the life of the motor oil.

Friction modifiers

Friction modifiers help reduce friction when your engine is operating under high temperatures and with heavy loads. This additive can also help you maximize your fuel efficiency.

Rust and corrosion inhibitors

Your engine’s internal parts can rust and corrode when exposed to acids and moisture. These additives create a protective film over your engine’s internal parts to help prevent such damage.


This is your oil’s magic ingredient. It gives your oil the ability to absorb and hold solid contaminants so that they don’t damage the engine.

Viscosity-index improvers

These additives help your engine oil perform as intended despite temperature fluctuations.

Anti-wear agents

Anti-wear agents help protect parts of the engine that are especially susceptible to damage from high temperatures, like cylinder walls, lifters, cams, and piston rings. This additive acts as a protective layer around these components to limit friction in metal-on-metal situations.