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What is Synthetic Motor Oil?

barrel of crude

What is Synthetic Motor Oil?

As most of my friends know, and you now as well, I listen to audio books during my daily commute. My current book, about history’s first billionaire, is titled “Titan: The Life of John D. Rockefeller, Sr.” It’s a massive book about a massively complex man, and it’s been a fascinating “read.”

Here are a few things I’ve learned:

1) Like most historical figures, there is a complex human beneath the reputation. Rockefeller has been called the most feared and ruthless businessman in our history, and simultaneously the most generous.

2) Kerosene was the main consumer product derived from crude oil at the time. The internal combustion engine did not yet exist, but Rockefeller grew rich thanks to the abundance of kerosene lamps in the nation’s homes.

3) Pennsylvania was the first region in which oil was discovered. Eventually, oil was found in Lima, Ohio, but its composition was chemically different, and the kerosene left a film on the lamps.

4) Lubricants literally played a major role in greasing the wheels of progress. The Industrial Age was all about machines enabling industry to be more productive, which generated wealth for industrialists.

5) Around the time the electric light bulb was replacing kerosene lamps, cars were replacing the horse and buggy. The 20th Century became the century of Big Oil.

The Drake Well in Pennsylvania has been called the first oil well.

Well…that’s a deep subject

If it seems like I’m not answering the question posed in the headline, it’s because I wanted to bring you in through a back road. Item three in the above list notes that oil is chemically different based on its origins. I learned this years ago because my West Virginia kin had an oil well. I remember walking up the hill to the well when I was young. The adults discussed how the oil company said the oil was not worth as much as higher-quality crude. I may have my facts jumbled, but I believe they said it would be suitable for natural gas and would therefore not fetch as much money.

Distillation nation

Crude oil contains hundreds of different kinds of hydrocarbons. Oil refineries distill crude and separate it into various products, like gasoline, jet fuel, diesel fuel, heating oil and asphalt. And the base oils that go into motor oil.

Refining is a process of physically separating light oil components from heavy ones. Crude oil contains a multitude of different kinds of molecules. Many are similar in weight, but not in structure. The refining process cannot distinguish such molecules, so a wide assortment of molecules is present in the finished lubricant made from crude oil stocks.

Some crude oil molecules are not beneficial to the lubrication process. For example, paraffin causes refined lubricants to thicken and flow poorly in cold temperatures. Molecules containing sulfur, nitrogen and other elements invite the formation of sludge and other by-products of lubricant breakdown, especially in high-temperature applications.

The assorted molecules of refined lubricants also have different shapes, making lubricant surfaces irregular at the molecular level. As lubricant layers flow across one another during the lubrication process, these irregularities create friction, which consumes power, reduces efficiency and increases heat and wear.

How synthetic oil is different

Rather than being refined from crude oil, synthetic lubricants are chemically engineered from pure chemicals using a process called organic synthesis. Organic synthesis is when you combine two things from nature to create something that does not exist naturally. This process gives synthetic oils significant advantages over refined oils.

Products made from a barrel of crude.

Synthetic oil molecules are uniform, not irregular. This uniformity helps them resist thinning in heat and thickening in cold, which improves protection throughout the engine’s operating temperature range.

Their molecular uniformity also reduces friction as the lubricant’s layers slide across one another. Reduced friction increases energy efficiency for greater fuel economy and maximum power. It also reduces heat and wear for longer equipment life.

Another feature of synthetic oils is that they are designable. Many different kinds of base oils may be used to create synthetic lubricants, allowing a synthetic to be designed for virtually any application. Some base oils are ideal for use in extremely cold environments. Others are perfect for use in extreme heat. Some are extremely safe in applications in which refined lubricants pose a fire or explosion hazard. Refined oils simply do not offer the design flexibility of man-made synthetic oils.

This design flexibility allows synthetics to be tailored to the needs of everyday applications, such as automotive engines, commercial equipment or industrial machinery. That specificity helps ensure maximum life, horsepower, performance and fuel economy from the lubricated system.

Bottom Line

If all this seems a little technical – to be honest, I did take a little heat for writing such a technical post this week – here’s all you really need to know about synthetic and conventional oils. The AAA made a big splash this summer when it laid out its findings in a study that demonstrated the superiority of synthetic oils. Everyone seems to be talking about it, from the AutoBlog to The Drive and even the folks at Business Insider. The titles are pretty straightforward, but I especially like the one from BI: “A new study by AAA puts to rest one of the most common questions car owners have.”  In other words, “that settles it.”

Now for the next question: What are you going to do about it?

Here’s my recommendation. Visit this page and find the AMSOIL synthetic lubricants for your vehicle. Experience firsthand what “better” really means.

Solve ethanol issues before they arise

Ethanol Issues

Prevent Ethanol Issues Now

The fuel some love to hate isn’t the problem – letting gasoline sit too long is the real problem.

Len Groom | TECHNICAL PRODUCT MANAGER

How did an alternative fuel made mostly from corn grown in the Midwest become a political lightning rod?

Whatever the reason, ethanol is always a controversial topic. Some love it, citing its ability to reduce our dependence on foreign oil while supporting American jobs. Some hate it, saying it reduces fuel economy and wastes farmland that could be used to grow food.

I’ll leave that debate to someone else. Instead, I want to talk about the effect ethanol can have on fuel-system components, especially in powersports and lawn & garden equipment – and what you can do to avoid those problems.

What is ethanol?

But first, some background info. Ethanol is an alcohol fuel derived from plant materials, such as corn, barley or wheat. It’s mixed with gasoline at different ratios to produce the fuel you buy at the pump. Most of us are familiar with E10, which is gasoline that contains up to 10 percent ethanol. Today, E15 is becoming more common. And owners of flex-fuel vehicles designed to run on increased concentrations of ethanol can opt for E85.

The upside of ethanol

Years ago, lead was added to gasoline to, among other things, boost octane rating and help prevent engine knock. It turned out lead poisoned catalytic converters and harmed the environment, so it was replaced by methyl tert-butyl ether (MTBE). However, MTBE was shown to damage the environment if leaked or spilled. Today, ethanol has replaced MTBE as a more environmentally friendly means of boosting octane.

Fuel-system problems

That brings us to a major knock on ethanol – it’s propensity to degrade rubber and plastic fuel hoses and carburetor components. Ethanol can cause gaskets and fuel lines to harden, crack and then leak. It can also cause aluminum and brass fuel-system components to corrode and develop a white, flaky residue that clogs fuel passages. Some marina personnel I’ve talked to say up to 65 percent of their repair orders are attributed to fuel-system problems.

PHASE SEPARATION

Ethanol isn’t to blame

While ethanol has become a popular scapegoat for mechanics, especially in the marine industry, it isn’t the enemy – time is the enemy. Why do ethanolrelated problems affect powersports and lawn & garden equipment more than your car or truck? Because your boat or lawnmower can sit idle for weeks or even months. During that time, the fuel can absorb moisture since ethanol has an affinity for water. That’s why ethanolrelated problems are so common in marine applications. Water can break the molecular bond between gasoline and ethanol, causing the water/ethanol mixture to separate from the gasoline and fall to the bottom of the tank. This is known as phase separation, and you can see an example of it in the image above.

Phase separation causes a couple problems. The engine can draw the ethanol/ water mixture into the carburetor or injectors, leading to a lean-burn situation that can increase heat and damage the engine. In addition, the gasoline left behind no longer offers adequate resistance to engine knock since the ethanol that provides the increased octane the engine needs has separated from the gasoline. Burning low-octane gas can cause damage due to engine knock, especially in two-stroke engines. Finally, if your boat, lawnmower or other piece of equipment sits unused, the water/ethanol mixture can slowly corrode aluminum and brass fuel-system components, not to mention rubber and plastic fuel lines and gaskets. Eventually those components fail and require replacement.

Driving your car or truck almost every day doesn’t allow enough time for phase separation to occur, which is why we don’t see these issues nearly as often in the passenger car/light-truck market.

Prevention is the best solution

Although some fuel additives on the market claim to reverse the effects of phase separation, there’s no way to reintegrate gasoline and ethanol once they’ve separated. Instead, it’s best to prevent it.

One solution is to use non-oxygenated, ethanol-free gas in your powersports and lawn & garden equipment. It costs a little more, but it eliminates problems associated with ethanol. Another solution is to treat every tank of fuel and container of gas with AMSOIL Quickshot®. It helps keep water molecules dispersed in the fuel to prevent phase separation. It also cleans varnish, gums and insoluble debris while stabilizing fuel during short-term storage.

It’s a great way to avoid ethanol-related problems and keep your equipment protected. There’s nothing controversial about that.

DEALER FINDS LONG-TERM BUSINESS ‘FIT’ IN AMSOIL

DEALER FINDS LONG-TERM BUSINESS ‘FIT’ IN AMSOIL

DEALER FINDS LONG-TERM BUSINESS ‘FIT’ IN AMSOIL

Direct Jobber Erin Hart of Surrey, British Columbia, Canada has been in the AMSOIL business for 10 years.

“The timing was perfect when I found AMSOIL,” Hart said. “I had just recently become a new dad and was at home with our three-month-old son. I had just started a warehouse logistics consulting company (an industry I had been in for 15 years), and I was heavily involved in recreational snowmobiling in British Columbia. I saw the ‘fit’ right away in terms of me being able to call on retail and commercial accounts with a reputable product line.”

I just wanted to make a few more bucks

He was looking for a part-time business to generate some extra income that could become full-time in the future. “I had dabbled with other opportunities, but I never really had the passion for their products, and I was always suspect of their business and marketing practices,” Hart said.

He realized he had found the right combination of increased income in the short term, and the possibilities for long-term growth, with his AMSOIL business. It’s really the ultimate home based business. And I can sign up del

“This will become a full-time revenue stream for me. It affords me the freedom to set my own hours and work at my own pace.”

“As I started to gain some traction with the AMSOIL biz and saw my monthly commission checks start to increase on a regular basis, I knew right away I could do this long-term,” Hart said. “This will become a full-time revenue stream for me. It affords me the freedom to set my own hours and work at my own pace. But to really see the results, you need to stay focused. Even working at it part-time as I do, I probably invest one to three hours daily working on some nuance of the business.”

“There are so many opportunities to present the AMSOIL product line, and I like to keep myself open to all of them. Saying that, I have seen my best success with retail accounts, especially the quick lube market. The volumes that they order really help with the monthly commission checks.”

Hart approaches all types of accounts. “I try not to focus on any one type of account,” he said. “There are so many opportunities to present the AMSOIL product line, and I like to keep myself open to all of them. Saying that, I have seen my best success with retail accounts, especially the quick lube market. The volumes that they order really help with the monthly commission checks.”

Hart said relationships with his accounts bring him the most success. “In working on various accounts, it is all about relationship building,” he said. “You really need to understand their challenges and their pain and how our product line can help. Ultimately, we want to drive more business into their shops, which in turn creates more business for them.”

Some accounts come easy, while others take time, he said. “It really depends on the sales cycle with that particular account, what product they already have on the shelf and how AMSOIL can help,” Hart said. “I have had retail accounts register in as little as a month and others that are over a year, but I persist because something always changes in their environment where I eventually get a ‘yes’ out of them.”

His retention plan includes staying in touch with his customers.

“I follow-up with each of my accounts every one to three months, depending on their level of activity,” Hart said. “Follow-up can be as easy as a phone call or email. In a lot of cases, I simply stop into their shop to say ‘hi’ and see how business is overall.

“Again, things change in their environment, and what we do is truly a ‘belly-to-belly’ business,” Hart said. “People like to know who they are doing business with. A handshake, a quick coffee and a good conversation go a long way in securing business long-term.”

Hart advertises primarily on Facebook. “I have my own personal Facebook page and then I have my business AMSOIL Facebook page — IdealMotoroil,” he said. He belongs to a number of buy and sell groups, as well as powersports and diesel groups on Facebook. “It keeps me in tune with what people are looking for and usually there is some type of ‘nugget’ that appears where I can create an opportunity for my AMSOIL business,” Hart said.

When he’s not selling AMSOIL products, Hart plays hard. “I play a lot of hockey, usually twice per week, even during the summer,” he said. “Regular exercise is a de-stress time for me and helps me focus later on. It is also a great networking opportunity for me as I am always wearing my AMSOIL-branded shirts, hats, jackets, etc. Conversations happen organically about AMSOIL and have created a lot of business for me.”

“Everyone is always willing to share their story and provide some great advice if you ask them. Ultimately, I want my Dealership to provide that six-digit income for me and my family. I will get it there.”

He encourages new Dealers to take advantage of the resources available through AMSOIL. “Don’t let the enormity of the opportunity overwhelm you,” Hart said. “Take the baby steps and learn. AMSOIL University Online is a fantastic resource available to us and a lot of time and resources have been put into it to help you grow your business. Also, don’t be afraid to ask questions. There is no such thing as a dumb question, and the staff at AMSOIL is a tremendous resource.”

Explore AMSOIL University Online by logging in to the Dealer Zone and clicking the AU Online link.

“Through various AMSOIL events I have attended, I have had the opportunity to meet and network with other very successful AMSOIL Dealers,” said Hart. “Everyone is always willing to share their story and provide some great advice if you ask them. Ultimately, I want my Dealership to provide that six-digit income for me and my family. I will get it there.”

Join as a Dealer and start taking the free AMSOIL University classes now. 

Lubricant Viscosity Explained

viscosity - how to understand

Lubricant Viscosity Explained

A lubricant’s viscosity and how it changes under different temperatures and operating conditions is one of the most important properties that determines lubricant performance and protection.

Viscosity can be viewed in two ways:

• Kinematic viscosity
• Dynamic (or absolute) viscosity

Kinematic viscosity is defined by the lubricant’s resistance to flow and shear due to gravity. To illustrate, imagine pouring two containers, one filled with water and the other with honey. Each fluid’s Kinematic viscosity governs the rate at which it flows. Since the Kinematic viscosity of water is lower, it flows faster. Kinematic viscosity, measured using ASTM D445 methodology, determines an SAE oil’s high-temperature viscosity grade (the “30” in 5W-30).

Dynamic viscosity, measured by the Cold Crank Simulator (CCS) test (ASTM D5293), is defined as the lubricant’s resistance to flow as indicated by its measured resistance, best thought of as the amount of energy required to move an object, such as a metal rod, through the fluid. It takes less energy to stir water compared to honey because the Dynamic viscosity of water is lower. Dynamic viscosity determines an oil’s low-temperature grade (the “5W” in 5W-30).

What does it mean to motorists? The lubricant’s viscosity at 40ºC and 100ºC is used to calculate its viscosity index (VI) – a measure of how much the viscosity of the fluid changes due to temperature. As we said, viscosity change due to temperatures and operating conditions influences performance. A lubricant that undergoes little viscosity change will generally perform better. A high VI indicates the fluid undergoes little viscosity change due to temperature fluctuations, while a low VI indicates a relatively large viscosity change.

Synthetic fluids generally have much higher viscosity index numbers compared to conventional fluids, meaning they provide improved protection to critical components over a wide range of temperatures. VI is normally reported on the oil’s product data sheet, like this one.

AMSOIL synthetic lubricants boast high VI numbers, meaning they’re more stable than competitive lubricants, so you can count on them to deliver outstanding protection.

It Ain’t Easy Being Green

green technologies at AMSOIL - we leave very little impact

It Ain’t Easy Being Green

AMSOIL INC. is headquartered in the land of 10,000 lakes. Imagine clean, blue water, pine trees for days, and wildlife that roams free. It is a beautiful place and we do our best to not take it for granted.

Earth Day is a great time to reflect on how fortunate we are to live in such a beautiful place and work for such an environmentally friendly company.

We are proud of our environmental stewardship and know that being a green and clean company is good for business and essential for the future of the Earth and our company.

The AMSOIL Center

We maintain a rigorous recycling program throughout our corporate facilities where we recycle the majority of materials we use, including:

  • Corrugated liner board (cardboard)
  • Used drums
  • Pallets
  • Clean plastic bottles
  • Office and glossy paper
  • Aluminum and glass
  • Computer equipment
  • Batteries, light bulbs, oil filters and more

Less than 10 percent of the waste AMSOIL generates ends up in the landfill, and the 400,000-sq. ft. AMSOIL Center produces only one dumpster load of waste every six weeks.

We use residual production oil to heat our facility in the winter, reducing energy costs. We have a high-efficiency roof and use Big Ass Fans to move massive amounts of air quietly and efficiently. In addition, we converted a large section of the asphalt parking lot at the AMSOIL Center to green space. Our Environmental Management System is also registered to the ISO 14001:2004 standard, providing third-party confirmation that we’re actively measuring and seeking to improve our environmental impact.

AMSOIL Products

Our dedication to the environment lies at the heart of how we operate our facilities in Superior, Wis., but it is also instilled in our products.

AMSOIL Signature Series Synthetic Motor Oil is guaranteed for 25,000 miles/700 hours of operation/one year, whichever comes first, in normal service (15,000 miles/700 hours/one year in severe service). By safely extending oil-change intervals, Signature Series dramatically reduces waste oil. If every passenger car/light truck in America practiced extended drain intervals using Signature Series, up to 35.7 billion quarts of oil would be eliminated from the supply stream.

HP Marine Synthetic 2-Stroke Oil offers a unique combination of high performance and low aquatic toxicity. Testing developed by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development reveals a 100 percent survival rate of Daphnia Magna neonates (water fleas) and fathead minnows exposed to increasing concentrations of HP Marine mixed in water. With HP Marine, you’re taking care of your equipment and the environment.

SABER Professional Synthetic 2-Stroke Oil features low smoke, low-odor and low toxicity, producing fewer emissions at a 100:1 mix ratio than other oil mixed at 50:1. Equipment operators subjected to smoke and fumes benefit from these low-emission properties.

AMSOIL Low-Toxicity Antifreeze & Coolant is made with propylene glycol, a biodegradable chemical that is easier to recycle than its ethylene-glycol counterparts. Its low toxicity limits poisoning risk.

What You Can Do

The used oil from one oil change can contaminate 1 million gallons of fresh water – a year’s supply for 50 people. So don’t forget to recycle your used oil container and used oil. To find local recycling options near you, visit Earth 911 or call 1-800-CLEANUP. Recycling just two gallons of used oil can generate enough electricity to run the average household for nearly 24 hours.

And, obviously, you can use AMSOIL products to help reduce waste oil, increase fuel economy and reduce harmful exhaust emissions.