Motor Oil: Top 10 brands and products of 2022

Motor Oil: Top 10 brands and products of 2020

Manufacturers label the engine oils they produce using codes and numbers that puzzle many car owners. We will try to help you make sense of those!

Why is it important to choose the best oil

A critical part of keeping your car’s engine running smoothly and properly is regularly changing your motor oil and making sure the new oil your putting in is the best your car can get. The oil keeps the internal parts of the engine lubricated, preventing the moving parts from grinding against each other and causing damage, and keeps it cool too, ensuring it does not overheat.

The oil keeps the internal parts of the engine lubricated

If your oil is not changed frequently, dirt, grime, and sludge can accumulate inside the engine bay and around the moving parts and the old, dirty oil won’t allow the parts to smoothly slide against one another. If the oil is soiled and full of impurities it can cause some serious damage and you may even have to replace your engine in the future. Some oils also contain additives, such as detergents, to maintain the cleanliness of the high-temperature surfaces and antioxidants that prevent oxidation (which can lead to rusting) and keep the engine oil from thickening. Additives also capture dirt and other contaminants to prevent build up on engine parts.

But it isn’t always easy choosing the right motor oil. To make sure you aren’t left staring blankly back at someone when they ask you what kind of motor oil you want, in this article, we’ll be running down the top 10 motor oil brands and products to make sure you get the best to keep your engine running smoothly.

Types of Motor Oil

Types of motor oil
 Before we go into detail for each brand and product though, here’s a quick breakdown of the different kinds of motor oils there are that you have probably heard about in the past. 
  • i Conventional oil comes from refined crude oil. It works fine in most everyday vehicles, but is the least expensive oil. It is the standard oil for new cars. Almost all leading brands will sell conventional oils, which are available in several viscosities.
  • i Synthetic blend oils on the other hand are designed almost specifically for ‘high performance’ engines. They are produced in a laboratory and are often more expensive, but offer a longer lifespan and more lubrication for your engine because of the maintained viscosity. They are made slightly heavier engines that operate at higher temperatures. As a rule, therefore, they are less volatile, meaning they evaporate less and which in turn reduces oil loss and increases the car’s fuel economy.
  • i Full synthetic oils, however, contain absolutely no mineral oil. They have an outstanding longevity and are often used in industry. They tend to be the most expensive oil, but also offer what might be the best option for older cars because of the kind of additives they contain, which will prevent the oil from thinning and losing its viscosity, which means there will be less wear and tear for the parts.
  • i High-mileage oils have ingredients to take care of older engines, like antioxidants and detergents. Seals, gaskets and non-metal parts begin to decay and loosen as an engine ages and the higher-mileage oils are formulated with seal conditioners that increase flexibility and restore shape, which can help prevent leaks in the long run. If a car is beyond it’s warranty and has 60-, 80-, or even 150,000 miles, high-mileage oil could do a lot for it.

Before choosing an oil it is of course essential that you take your car into account; different cars require different types of motor oil. A brand new car may run perfectly well on mineral oil, but an older car with a high performance engine might benefit from synthetic oil. You want to get the best quality, but avoid forking out money for an oil that won’t enhance your car’s performance.

What does SAE labelling stand for?

What does SAE labelling stand for?

Viscosity is one of the essential properties of a motor oil when determining if a specific product can be used in a specific season.

According to the Society of Automobile Engineers (SAE), all motor oils can be divided into the following categories:

  1. Winter. Labeled with a W for winter, these are suitable for cold seasons only. The number preceding the W is always divisible by five and serves to indicate the minimum temperature at which the oil can protect the engine during a cold start. The starting point is -35 °С, equaling grade 0. Each following grade counts up by 5 °С: a 5W product retains its properties at -30 °С, a 10W, at -25 °С, etc.
  2. Summer. These engine oils provide timely lubrication and protection of car parts in warm seasons, but are ineffective in the cold. Their labels also feature numbers: 20, 30, 40, 50 and 60. Contrary to popular belief, these numbers stand for the oil’s kinematic viscosity at 100 °С and not the maximum ambient temperature.
  3. All-season. These are labeled as suitable in the winter, with both minimum temperature and viscosity level at maximum heating temperature: 5W-30, 10W-60, etc. All-season engine oils are currently the most common.

AutoDoc Tip: All-season synthetic oils help save money, since you don’t need to change them twice a year. If you mostly drive on urban roads, with frequent stops, and you keep your car in an unheated room, and especially if you live in an area with harsh winters, look for an engine oil labeled as 0W или 5W. However, for a car with a worn engine with enlarged gaps between friction pairs, a higher viscosity product would be preferable.

Making sense of API classification

The American Petroleum Institute developed their own classification meant to sort engine oils based on their formula and operation properties. It also allows to indirectly evaluate the quality of lubricants since lately, the standards have become much more stringent as compared to earlier years of the industry.

Making sense of API classification

According to API, all motor oils fall into two categories, each containing several classes:

S. For petrol engines. In most countries, the following four classes are currently approved for use:

  • SJ. Recommended for use in engines manufactured before 2001.
  • SL. Suitable for power units produced before 2004. A lot of car manufacturers have adopted SL as the minimum standard required for car maintenance.
  • SM. Intended for engines produced in 2010 and earlier. SM oils are highly efficient at low temperatures, resistant to oxidation and sediment formation. They retain their excellent properties throughout their service life.
  • SN. Introduced in 2010. Currently, these are the oils that can ensure the highest level of engine protection, as well as its high efficiency. SN oils help save fuel. They prevent the turbocharger from wearing out prematurely, without aggressive effects on seals and gaskets.

C. Designation for engine oils for diesel-fueled commercial vehicles. The classes currently in use for vehicles of different model years are CH, CI, CJ, and CK. The number 4 following the class designation stands for 4-stroke engine vehicles. Let’s look at C-grade oils  in detail:

  • CH-4. Introduced in 1998. Suitable for engines that run on high-quality fuel ranging in sulfur content up to 0.5% weight.
  • CI-4. Introduced in 2002. This type of motor oils ensures reliable protection of the engine and exhaust system from soot deposits and prevent premature wear-out of their elements. Some lubrication materials of this class are designated CI-4 PLUS.
  • CJ-4. They boast elevated temperature stability, resistance to oxidation and longer service life.
  • CK. Developed for protection of engines that were produced in 2017. However, such motor oils can be used optionally in earlier engine models.

There are universal lubricants available, suitable for use in both petrol and diesel engines. They have double designations, for instance, CН-4/SJ.

AutoDoc Tip: A lot of the manufacturers recommend to use the latest-class oil for engine lubrication. And in most cases, this advice is justified: the more recent the formula, the safer, as well as more economical and environmentally friendly it is. However, this recommendation is useless for older vehicles since their engines are built differently, and will not be able to get the maximum out of all the advantages of a pricier oil. You can find more information on which lubrication to use in your car in your service book.

АСЕА performance evaluation

Decreasing emission toxicity and reducing fuel consumption are one of the crucial requirements for modern lubricating materials. Hence lots of oils would indicate they meet the latest ecology standards on their package.

АСЕА performance evaluation

According to the Association des Constructeurs Européens d’Automobiles ( ACEA ) classification, all engine oils approved for sale and use can be divided into the following categories:

  • А. For petrol engines. This category includes three classes: А1, А3 and А5. The letter precedes a number indicating eco-safety level and viscosity under specific conditions. The numbers 1 and 5 indicate fuel economy, but otherwise it’s just like API: the higher the number, the better properties a product has.
  • В. This category includes lubricants for passenger and small commercial vehicles running on diesel fuel. They are also divided into classes: B1 and B5 mean fuel economy, while В3 and В4 are regular products.
  • Е. Oils marked with this letter are intended for diesel-fueled heavy-duty lorries and special vehicles. E1 stands for fuel economy; the rest are standard.

Fuel economy was a parameter that API specialists also decided to take into account, introducing a new designation, EC (Energy Conserving).

These oils boast lower viscosity at extreme temperature rises, ensuring smooth and even travel of moving parts and cutting fuel consumption. However, this means a thinner lubricating film, which is especially risky for older engines with a big mileage – those engines need additional protection.

Does the manufacturer’s endorsement really matter?

A product may work great for some engines while posing a risk for others. This compels vehicle manufacturers to do their own lubricant performance tests. If a product passes a test successfully, it will get marked accordingly, for example, BMW Longlife-98. This means an oil can be used in vehicles of this brand with longer maintenance intervals, manufactured in 1998 and later.

AutoDoc tip: Always try to use the oil recommended by your car manufacturer, and do not experiment with viscosity levels. The risks lies in the fact that in some engines, the lubrication grooves are only thick enough for high-viscosity oils. If disregarded, the power unit will inevitably wear out prematurely. At the same time, some car manufacturers, e.g. BMW Group and Daimler AG, bly advise against using low-viscosity lubricants in their vehicles, due to the design of their engines.

What do different engine oil classifications have in common?

Despite their differing principles, all classifications are closely related. For instance, if a lubricant is API-marked as SH, it can’t be an А1 or А5 in ACEA, since those requirements were not published until SJ class came out. If a label features А5, it means the products is at least an SL in API, i.e., it has longer change intervals.

Fuel economy products labeled as А1, А5, В1 и В5 tend to have temperature viscosity of 30 and less. Oils with viscosity of 40 belong to А2, А3, В2, В3, and В4 classes and do not provide fuel economy.

Learning to read labels

Motor Oil - Learning to read labels

API SL / CF. This stands for a universal oil suitable for both multivalve turbocharged petrol-run engines and diesel power trains of various designs. The product provides increased protection for engines running on lean fuel-air mix and prevents carbon deposits from forming when using fuel with ash content over 0,5 %.

ACEA A3 / B4. This indicates that the lubricant is suitable for use in heavy-duty conditions, helps reduce fuel consumption and is to be replaced less often. May be used in high-performance petrol and diesel engines.

10W-40. The oil is suitable for both winter and summer seasons, retains its viscosity at -25 °С and remains quite viscous when heated, meaning it can be used in vehicles with a big mileage.

MoS2. The molybdenum disulfide in the formula of this oil prevents galling, reduces friction and wear out of the components, provides noiseless engine operation.

Teilsynthetisches Leichtlauf-motorenöl. This means that the oil is semi-synthetic.

Top Motor Oil Brands

  • i Castrol. Castrol is perhaps one of the oldest brands of motor oil, being first founded in 1899 and entering the market in Great Britain in 1909. Now owned by BP and based in the UK, they have a wealth of expertise and offer a wide range of oils, mostly focusing on the full synthetic or synthetic blend oil and have lots of experience with high-performance automobiles: they’ve been involved with NASCAR and F1 for many years.
  • i Mobil. Mobil were hailed as an early innovator of synthetic motor oil and this legacy continues to the present day with their Mobil 1 range of products. Their full synthetic motor oils claimed to keep engines in an excellent condition for 250,000 miles and they offer products for everything from performance sport cars to cars well past their peak.
  • i Liqui Moly. Liqui Moly GmbH is a German company specializing in oils, lubricants and additives which offers over 4,000 products for cars all over the world as well as for motorcycles, ships, and industrial machinery.
  • i Motul. Motal is a French company, now operating on a global scale which develops lubricants for both the automotive and other industries. Motul are real innovators of the motor oil industry, producing the first semi-synthetic oil in 1966 and the first fully synthetic oil in 1971.
  • i Shell. Perhaps more commonly known as being an oil and gas provider, the Dutch-British company Shell also produces and distributes lubricants including motor oil and delivers its market-leading lubricants to consumers in over 100 countries. In 2013 it was rated the world’s number 1 global lubricant supplier.
  • i Elf. Formerly owned by the French government, Elf became a private company in 1994 it is now, after merging with Total, the fourth largest oil company in the world and an expert in lubricants. Some of its latest products have included Fuel Economy Lubricants and Low SAPS lubricants for modern engines.
  • i Comma Oil. Focus exclusively on vehicles, whether passenger or commercial, and now based on Sau Paulo, Brazil, Comma Oil prides itself on its approaches to technical innovation and training that lead to quality products for all seasons and engine types.
  • i Valvoline Oil. Almost everyone has heard of the Model T car, one of the first mass produced affordable automobiles. Fewer people, however, will have heard of Valvoline, although this was the oil that was used in some of those early model T cars, as the company has been around since 1866, originally designing lubricant for steam engines. It has some serious history behind it.
  • i Ravenol. Is a German lubricant producer who puts the focus on synthetic lubricants created through industrial processes and prides itself on technical innovation.
  • i Fuchs oil. Fuchs is a global company with German roots that has developed, produced, and sold lubricants and related products for the last 85 years – for virtually all areas of application and sectors form automobiles to industry and beyond. With 62 bases and more than 5,600 employees worldwide, the FUCHS Group is one of the leading independent concerns in supplying lubricants.

Best Motor Oils of 2022

  • i Castrol Edge Professional, Longlife III. Castrol Edge is a synthetic oil suitable for both diesel and petrol engines and guarantees excellent performance and reliability even in subzero temperatures. It is also highly resistant to oxidation and lasts the entire service life.
  • i Mobil 1 ESP Formula 5W-30. Another synthetic oil, the Mobil 1 ESP oil has a viscosity SAE of 50W-30 and is highly compatible with most vehicles. It is designed to provide excellent cleaning power and to prevent wear to the engine. It is also suitable for both diesel and gasoline automobiles.
  • i Shell Helix HX7 5W-30. This shell synthetic oil has been engineered to meet the demanding requirements of particular high-performance engines including Ford and those requiring API SJ, ILSAC GF-2 or ACEA A1/B1.
  • i Comma XTech 5W-30. This is a fully synthetic, high performance oil designed with Ford DuraTec, DuraTorq, or Zetec vehicles in mind and gives users all the fuel economy benefits of an ACEA A5/B5 oil. As well as being suitable for diesel and petrol engines, it can also be used in conjunction with fuel injected, multivalved, and turbo charged engines.
  • i Valvoline synpower 5W-30. SynPower 5W-30 is a low viscosity, full synthetic engine oil formulated with a combination of premium synthetic base stocks and advanced additive technology. Designed for modern petrol engines, SynPower 5W-30 meets the ILSAC GF-5 fuel efficiency specification and the GM dexos1™ GEN 2 specification.
  • i Liqui Moly Top Tec 4200 5W-30. This is a high-tech, low-friction motor oil based on synthetic technology. It offers motorists outstanding protection against wear, reduces oil and fuel consumption and ensures fast oil penetration of the engine. Depending on the manufacturer’s specifications, oil change intervals of up to 30,000 or 50,000 km or every 2 years for low mileage drivers are thus possible.
  • i Motul X-Clean 5W-30. X-Clean is a 100% Synthetic high performance Gasoline and Diesel engine oil for powerful and recent cars fitted with large displacement engines. This multi-purpose product features numerous car maker approvals and is especially recommended for vehicles still under warranty. Compatible for catalytic converters.
  • i ELF Evolution, 900 SXR Engine Oil. Elf Evolution 99 SXR offers outstanding protection against wear as well as thermal stability and resistance to oxidation. This stops degradation of the engine components, even in very severe conditions. It is suitable for all journeys (in town, on highways and motorways) and particularly in severe conditions.
  • i RAVENOL VMP 5W-30. The Ravenol VMP is a universal fuel economy engine oil, especially distilled for modern gasoline and diesel engines with and without a turbocharger in passenger cars and vans with extended oil change intervals. Extends the lifespan of the particle filter.
  • i Fuchs Titan GT1 5W-30. This Fuchs oil has been especially developed for VW gasoline and diesel engines with and without longlife service and is approved according to VW 504 00 / 507 00. Currently, it can be used backwards compatible with older VW specifications as well as in hybrid models.

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Comments – 2

  • @user_58596
    27.06.2021 08:52

    This oil is recommended is Petronas is this a good oil. 0.-20w.

  • @Anna Johnson
    31.01.2022 13:29

    Petronas this oil is one of the market leaders, a good choice!

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