Which 0W-20 high mileage synthetic oil is best?
We're putting the five top selling synthetic oil brands head to head to see which SAE 0W-20 synthetic oil is the best - or at least "the best" in our view. We're comparing high mileage 0W-20 synthetic oils that can be used in the majority of consumer vehicle applications and are some of the best carriers for Bitron's Engine Treatment oil additive.
The five oil brands we're comparing are (in no particular order):
- Super Tech
We're comparing the oils in four key categories:
- Cleaning power
- Anti-corrosion power
- Anti-wear power
- Cost per quart
There are other categories oils can be compared in, such as viscosity, volatility and contamination. However, after our review we've found that they are all exceedingly similar in those other categories and the deciding comparison categories were the above listed four key categories.
It's important to note that contamination in all oils reviewed is almost non existent.
An oil's ability to clean is derived from detergent additives that help to keep metal surfaces in an engine clean by controlling formation of deposits (i.e. sludge, varnishes). These deposits can harm an engine by clogging oil passages that lubricate an engine, increase wear and reduce engine performance. A blend of calcium and magnesium-based detergents are most commonly used. All of the reviewed oils contain calcium, magnesium, sodium and barium in differing amounts in parts per million (ppm).
Detergent additives, such as calcium and magnesium, also help prevent corrosive wear by neutralizing acids formed during combustion and other processes in an engine. Total Base Number (TBN) is a laboratory test that measures an oil’s ability to neutralize these acids and it is the value we used to determine an oil's anti-corrosion capability.
Anti-wear additives help protect metal surfaces against impact friction and wear between moving parts in an engine. These additives work by forming a protective film between moving surfaces. The most widely used anti-wear additives are phosphorus and zinc. Some lubricant manufacturers also employ the use of anti-wear additives containing boron, molybdenum and titanium among others. All of the oils reviewed contain phosphorus, zinc, boron, molybdenum and titanium.
Anti-wear additives are multi-functional in that they also act as corrosion inhibitors and, more significantly, antioxidants helping prevent oil from oxidizing too quickly.
Cost per quart
To compare costs we used regular five quart container online pricing at Walmart in US Dollars and divided by five to arrive at a per quart cost. As engine oils are commoditized consumer products we expect pricing will be similar in other markets (excluding specials and market promotions).
We reviewed the additive amounts, total base numbers and cost per quart to arrive at total values in each category for each synthetic oil.
Then, by taking the above data, we ranked the oils from one to five with five being the best and one being the worst in a given category.
Based on the five point rating we can now see how the oils compare across categories. Valvoline comes out on top in cleaning and anti-wear capability with second place in anti-corrosion and cost per quart. Super Tech is by far the most cost effective option while still containing all of the additives of the other oils if at slightly lesser amounts.
It is really important to note that the difference in the five point rating system can seem significant, however, by looking at the data above all of the oils are extremely similar. One would be hard pressed to notice a difference between them in most day to day applications in a properly maintained vehicle.
Finally, the above ranking assumes we value each category the same. This is not the case, so we arrived at a new ranking in each category by weighing each category by order of importance and totaling the category ranking to arrive at an overall oil ranking. Of course this is subjective and your priorities may be different. However, as the oils are extremely similar across the board, in our view the cost is the most important, followed by anti-wear power, then anti-corrosion power and finally cleaning power.
That gives us a new overall total point rating:
Valvoline is the winner with Super Tech, the cheapest option, in second place, Mobil1 in third and Castrol Edge and Pennzoil Platinum tied for third.
At the end of the day you cannot go wrong with any of these options. However, if you are planning on using Bitron, or already are, you may choose to give even more value to the most price effective option as Bitron metal treatment technology will take any oil to the next level in terms of anti-wear protection, cleaning and anti-corrosion capability.* We get into this unique ability of Bitron metal treatment technology in our last article "How does Bitron work?". If you have not read that article, be sure to do so.
Send us any questions by emailing us or post your comments below! See you on the road!
*Important: As always, be sure to read and follow your vehicle's maintenance guidelines and recommended schedule.