Category: Auto Tips

Synthetic Oils: Ours Or Not?


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Synthetic Oils: Ours Or Not?
Synthetic Oils: Ours Or Not?

ENEOS Gran-Touring


About ten years ago, Russian synthetics simply did not exist in nature. Moreover, the use of any domestic oil was tacitly equated to stinginess and shortsightedness. And now?

A year ago, ZR conducted an examination of semi-synthetic oils 10W-40 ( ZR, 2010, No. 3, 4). Then domestic oils almost did not lose either German or Korean, but in some ways were even better. Now we decided to evaluate pure synthetics - eight samples.

On the classification of modern synthetics, see Our Information (at the end of the article). As usual, all oils depersonalized by encoding the samples. Then, under identical conditions, they worked 10 hours in the same engine at the stand of an accredited laboratory - this adjustment is necessary to output the oil parameters to the working area. Only then comes the full-blown cycle of motor tests. Then, in another accredited laboratory, we measured the main physicochemical parameters (FHP) of the samples and, in conclusion, handed out five prizes - in the categories “Profitability”, “Power”, “Extreme Protection”, “Ecology”, “Start”. And they made up the final “ranking table”.

How did you choose the participants? On the Russian side, the range of full synthetics is still modest: LUKOIL-Lux (new), as well as the well-known TNK-Magnum and Rosneft-Premium, fell into the test. The company was made up of the less common hydrocracking SINTOIL-Ultra and TOTEK-Astra Robot based on polyalphaolefins (PAO). It is curious that all these oils of different quality groups: SL from TNK and SJ in SINTOIL-Ultra were adjacent to SM from LUKOIL and Rosneft. By the way, the latter circumstance actually deprived Obninsk oil of a chance of an equal fight with the products of more modern groups, and therefore it was decided to test it out of competition.

Import is more difficult: the choice is too wide. We did not take the products of the most famous brands and preferred the less hyped. In addition, I wanted to expand the range of quality groups by API in order to align the initial conditions for ours and ours. And finally, curiosity prompted me to take oils built on different bases. The group of products on a hydrosynthetic basis was represented by the German MANNOL Extreme (API SL / CF), fully synthetic oils - the Japanese ENEOS Gran-Touring (API SM), and the Belgian Xenum X1 (API SM / CF) was responsible for the most modern group - ester oils.

Profitability and power

Scrolling through the protocol. We judged the economy by the amount of fuel spent on a standard test cycle. The best result was shown by the most advanced ester-based oil - Xenum X1. In relation to the reference mineral, it saved almost 9% of fuel - this is a lot! But a product for such characteristics was created, and an energy-saving effect is stated in the description. It is all the more pleasant because LUKOIL-Lux and TNK-Magnum lagged behind the leader quite a bit, reducing fuel consumption by 8 and 7%, respectively.

The best power was MANNOL Extreme. With it, the motor produced 3% more “horses” than on the standard. Of ours, LUKOIL-Lux also came close to him.

Why did this happen? But because for maximum efficiency, the high-temperature viscosity of the oil should not be large or small, but it should be optimal. But to achieve maximum power, on the contrary, a large one. We look at the table - that's how it is: LUKOIL and MANNOL are leaders in this parameter.


In the "green" nomination, the best product was selected according to the toxicity of exhaust gases and the content of sulfur and phosphorus in the oil. As you know, sulfur compounds, as well as phosphorus, quickly kill catalysts. Therefore, automakers require that the sulfur content in the oil should not exceed 0.2%, and phosphorus - 0.08%. These figures, depending on the tolerance of the car manufacturer, may vary slightly, but their order is just that.

We look … Not a single oil was put into the required 0.2% sulfur. But this is not a crime: during their operation in the engine, the oil could well “absorb” an additional hundred percent of the Russian fuel, which does not differ by a small amount of sulfur. The closest to the required level was the Japanese ENEOS Gran-Touring oil, next to the Belgian Xenum X1. Domestic sulfur is almost twice as much. Hydrosynthetic oils are especially rich in it: from Russian - SINTOIL-Ultra, from imported - MANNOL Extreme. This is understandable: the production technology of such oils is already a bit old today.

Phosphorus in imported oils is also less: they are more clearly oriented to the environment. But toxicity is not so simple. It is clear that any oil does not significantly affect the content of carbon oxides CO and nitrogen NOx, which cannot be said about the composition of the air-fuel mixture and the characteristics of the combustion process. But a part of the “price” in the exhaust composition depends precisely on the oil burning in the cylinder - this index is influenced by the degree of volatility of the oil itself and the thickness of the oil film left in the cylinder by the piston rings when the piston goes down during the expansion stroke. An indirect indicator of volatility is the flash point: the higher it is, the fewer volatile components in the oil and it burns out more slowly. And the film thickness under the rings, ceteris paribus, determines the viscosity at high temperature.

Two oils are leading in terms of flash point - our TOTEK-Astra Robot and the Belgian Xenum X1 - above 245 ° C at a fairly moderate high-temperature viscosity. But in general, the first place for environmental friendliness is given to Xenum X1 - it also has little sulfur with phosphorus. Quite a bit inferior to him was the Japanese oil ENEOS Gran-Touring. Among domestic leaders "TOTEK-Astra Robot."

Extreme protection

Its effectiveness was determined by several positions. The main thing is the test results on a four-ball friction machine: we simulate the ultimate loads of the friction unit and monitor the reaction of the oil film to them. In addition, we took into account the viscosity of the oil at high temperature. Indeed, in order to prevent emergency operation of the friction unit, it is necessary to create an oil layer in it of the required thickness, and here the mentioned parameter plays a decisive role.

It seems to us that the higher tribological parameters of domestic oils are explained by … their worst environmental friendliness! After all, sulfur and phosphorus are natural anti-seize additives: the more they are, the better the friction unit is protected. And for a Western manufacturer, the service life is not as important as the environment.

In general, in this nomination ours are ahead! The prize goes to Rosneft-Premium, the second place goes to LUKOIL-Lux. And our TOTEK and MANNOL share the bronze.

Cold start

In this nomination, the magnitude of the friction force in a real motor at starting revolutions, the conditional temperature of crankshaft cranking, and the pour point of engine oil were taken into account. As a result, the first prize went to ENEOS Gran-Touring, a Japanese oil, and the Russian Rosneft-Premium and LUKOIL-Lux were located next to it.

Down with the bias

The results of domestic synthetics and imported ones do not differ so much: LUKOIL was on the podium in general, and our fourth place! And the fifth, by the way, too. Of course, a short test cycle cannot answer all the questions - this conclusion is rather preliminary and needs to be clarified during the resource testing.

In the general table of ranks, the assertion made repeatedly by ZR about the importance of the API quality group and the oil's compliance with the modern requirements of automobile companies was again repeatedly confirmed. Leaders are equal to API SM / CF requirements, and this is the highest quality group so far. The real advantages of synthetics over semisynthetics were revealed, and in all nominations.

But another thing is also interesting: winning "Oscars" in one nomination, the same oil can give the worst result in other parameters (by the way, it happened before). For example, MANNOL Extreme oil, which won the first prize for engine power, quite predictably slipped in terms of economy and ecology. There are no miracles: oil, like all living things, requires balance and selection for a specific task, depending on what the consumer needs.

On the whole, we will evaluate the results as predictable. The leaders are ester oils and advanced complete synthetics based on PAO, but with the addition of molybdenum disulfide, the outsiders are hydrocracking products. The first four places were taken by SM group oils, the last was the representative of SJ. As for the choice between ours and non-ours, we guarantee: they know how to produce good oils in Russia! And that's great.


Imported oils have better "ecology", while ours have better protective properties

Modern oils based on esters and polyalphaolefins, although more expensive, are better than hydrocrackers in all respects

And in places

Out of classification: SINTOIL-Ultra, Russia



Classification - SAE 5W-40, API SJ / CF

Specified Tolerances - No

The average price is 840 rubles. (canister 4 l)

The quality group is SJ ancient, you will not find any analogues. This, apparently, explains the lack of confirmed tolerances by automakers. It was the non-modern quality group that, at the start, brought this oil out of the general group of participants.

The asset has an affordable price, the highest viscosity index among Russian oils, as well as a large alkaline number.

Pros: good starting characteristics at low temperatures, reasonable price.

Cons: low API class, high sulfur and phosphorus content reduce environmental performance.

7th place: MANNOL Extreme Synthetic, Germany

MANNOL Extreme Synthetic


Classification - SAE 5W-40, ACEA A3 / B3, API SL / CF

Specified tolerances - VW 505.00 / 502.00, MB 229.3

The average price is 830 rubles. (canister 4 l)

The price is lower than that of the cheapest Russian. But the oil is very ambiguous: it took first place for power, but at the same time it is worse than others in terms of economy and environmental friendliness. Among all imports, sulfur and phosphorus are the most abundant, and this is due to excellent low-temperature properties. Continuous contradictions!

Pluses: the best indicators on power, good low-temperature properties, the lowest price.

Cons: relatively low energy-saving and environmental properties.

6th place: TOTEK-Astra Robot, Russia

TOTEK-Astra Robot


Classification - SAE 5W-40

Specified Tolerances - No

The average price is 1, 500 rubles. (canister 4 l)

Very expensive oil. Differs in low volatility. Low freezing temperature, the best tribological parameters (film resistance and anti-seize properties).

Pros: high protective properties, low volatility, environmental performance for exhaust are some of the best.

Cons: a lot of sulfur, a high price for a domestic product, the lack of confirmed tolerances by automakers.

5th place: TNK-Magnum, Russia



Classification - SAE 5W-40, API SL / CF

The indicated tolerances are MB 229.3, VW 502.00 / 505.00, GM LL-B-025, BMW LL-98 Porsche

The average price is 1070 rubles. (canister 4 l)

A beautiful canister that you can’t confuse with any other. Oil with high engine performance, good low temperature properties. In all nominations, good points, the sum of which gave a place in the middle of the table.

Pros: good energy-saving performance, low friction losses.

Cons: a little expensive … and did not reach SM.

4th place: Rosneft-Premium, Russia



Classification - SAE 5W-40, ACEA A3 / B4–04, ACEA B3–98, API SM / CF

Specified tolerances - Meets MB-Approval 229.3, VW 502.00 / 505.00, Opel GM LL-B-25

The average price is 840 rubles. (canister 4 l)

Good oil, and inexpensive. From the selection of domestic products, it is closest to imported products in terms of sulfur and phosphorus. At the same time - the first place in terms of protective properties! And the second for a cold start.

Pros: high protective properties, good starting characteristics, reasonable price.

Cons: relatively low energy-saving properties.

3rd place: LUKOIL-Lux, Russia



Classification - SAE 5W-40, API SM / CF, Complies with ACEA B3–98

Specified tolerances - approved by MB-Approval 229.3, Porsche A40; Complies with VW 502.00 / 505.00, BMW LL-98, Opel GM-LL-B-025

The average price is 990 rubles. (canister 4 l)

Among the Russians - the undisputed leader. Vice champion for energy-saving features. Very honest factory description. Medium volatility, high alkaline number means the engine will be clean. But sulfur is too much, which is not welcomed in Europe.

Pros: high protective properties, good motor performance in fuel consumption and power.

Cons: high sulfur content, hence not the best environmental indicators.

2nd place: Xenum X1 Ester Hybrid Synthetic, Belgium

Xenum X1 Ester Hybrid Synthetic


Classification - SAE 5W-40, ACEA A3 / B4 C3, API SM / CF

The indicated tolerances are VW 505. 00 / 502.00, MB 229.51, BMW LL-04

The average price is 1890 rubles. (5 l canister)

Expected leader, as ester technology is the future of motor oils. Tests only confirmed this. The first places for ecology and economy, high results in power and start-up. It is a pity, low tribological indicators spoiled the impression a little. And a little expensive.

Pluses: the best indicators on energy saving and ecology.

Cons: relatively low tribological indicators.

1st place: ENEOS Gran-Touring, Japan

ENEOS Gran-Touring


Classification - SAE 5W-40, ACEA A3, API SM

Specified tolerances - no links

The average price is 1490 rubles. (canister 4 l)

Claimed as "No. 1 Oil in Japan." The only product that, judging by the API and ACEA classes, is focused only on gasoline engines. True, it is not clear why. The best in terms of starting characteristics, high results in power and ecology, and in total - a confident victory.

Pros: high performance in terms of power, cold start, environmental friendliness, excellent low-temperature properties, the lowest sulfur and phosphorus content.

Cons: low tribological indicators, a solid price.

Summary tables

(all tables open in full size on click)







How did you rank

Used our traditional technique. First, based on the analysis of the whole complex of information received, the oils were put in places in each of the nominations. What and why was taken into account, is described in the article. But part of the secondary data, which were also taken into account, remained in the protocols due to the lack of space in the journal.

Then they put intermediate scores: for the first place, as usual, 5 points, for the last 1 point, the rest were calculated in proportion to the results. Weights for all five nominations were taken equal. Those who wish can, of course, recount the results with other weighting factors, according to their own criteria. The result is simple: whoever scored the most points is higher in the overall rating. Oil prices did not participate in the assessment, but they are given in the comments.

Our reference: what is synthetics

Synthetics - oil, built on the basis of the base obtained by chemical synthesis of oil refined products. These base oils, according to the current API classification, are divided into a number of main groups.

Group III - base oils with a high viscosity index, obtained by the technology of catalytic hydrocracking (HC technology). In fact, these are mineral oils whose properties are close to synthetic. However, some firms call them either semi-synthetic, or synthetic, or hydro-synthetic.

Group IV - synthetic base oils based on PAO, extracted mainly from ethylene and butylene gases. Such oils have predictable properties, are stable, have an optimal viscosity-temperature characteristic, and low volatility. They are called full synthetic, and today they occupy the bulk of the synthetic market.

Group V - base oils not included in previous groups; in particular, vegetable-based oils, including esters. Esters are esters, neutralization products of carboxylic acids with alcohols. The raw materials are not petroleum, but vegetable oils - coconut, rapeseed, etc. Such oils are more stable, biodegradable, etc. The main disadvantage is the high price.



Mikhail Kolodochkin, Associate Professor, Department of ICE SPbSTU Alexander Shabanov

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