Engine oil has evolved from simple brown slime purified from crude oil to a brilliantly designed, carefully crafted blend of refined oil and sophisticated additives that retains its protective properties for months and thousands of miles of hard driving. Today’s most efficient and durable motor oils are synthetic ones, which are commonly developed and manufactured from chemically modified petroleum components. Which synthetic oils are best?

How we chose the oils on this list

We have sought guidance from car manufacturers because they are reluctant to take risks with engine protection. We interviewed them to find out which ones synthetic oils they flow into their most powerful high-performance engines. These engines require maximum protection, since they operate with enormous internal stresses and potentially high oil temperatures that punish lubricants. If the following oils are good enough for their ultra-high performance cars, they are good enough for your car. Just be sure to use a viscosity (this is the designation “XW-XX” on the label) that is right for your car.

[In May 2022, we added a few top-rated OEM and aftermarket synthetic oils to the bottom of this list.—Ed.]

When changing the oil

Car and driver offers regular oil changes according to the manufacturer’s recommendations with the same brand and viscosity SAE (Society of Automotive Engineers) as the factory. Not all synthetics here will be available in the viscosity recommended by your car manufacturer. Don’t worry. The use of oils in this list by car manufacturers in their most productive engines suggests that they all among the best you can buy. Since some oils are available in multiple recipes, make sure the one you buy is designed for your particular car. You can find this information in the operating instructions and often under the hood of your car.

Benefits of synthetic oil

Synthetic oil has some advantages over conventional motor oil, especially if you drive an old car, make many short trips and / or drive in areas with very hot or very cold seasonal changes. Synthetics can:

    • Resist breakage
    • Withstands higher temperatures
    • Flows better at low temperatures

      Frequently Asked Questions

      Q: What is the difference between synthetic oil and regular motor oil?

      A: Conventional motor oil is a natural compound. Synthetic oils combine synthetic or artificial chemicals with crude oil to create a petroleum product that behaves similarly to regular oil.

      Q: Is synthetic oil really better than regular motor oil?

      A: Usually yes. Unlike conventional automotive oil, synthetic oil is more refined, which can reduce friction, reduce engine stagnation and increase engine performance. If you drive a car with high performance, live in an area with extreme temperature conditions, make many short trips or drive an old car that burns oil quickly, synthetic oil will last longer and better protect your engine.

      Q: How many miles can you go on synthetic oil?

      A: Depends on where, how and on what you are driving. Most car (and oil) manufacturers recommend changing synthetic oil every 7,500–15,000 miles, depending on the car and the type of synthetic oil used.

      Q: Does synthetic oil have any disadvantages?

      A: The only real disadvantage of synthetic oil is the price, usually two to four times higher than the price of regular oil.

      Q: What happens if you mix synthetic oil with regular?

      A: Conventional and synthetic oils are mostly made up of compatible ingredients, so for now you can safely mix synthetic and conventional oils, this is not recommended – all you do is dilute the performance of the synthetic oil.

      The most popular synthetic oils:

    Best for McLarens, Porsche and Corvettes

    Mobil 1’s 0W-40 Synthetic

    Mobile 1

    Mobil 1 Advanced Full Synthetic 0W-40 is used in:

    • McLaren 570, 600LT, 720S, Senna
    • Porsche 911, 718 Boxster, 718 Cayman, Panamera, Cayenne, Macan
    • Chevrolet Corvette Stingray, Z06, ZR1 (Note: there are several formulations of Mobil 1 oil. The version shown here is “European Automobile Formula.” Mobil 1 for Corvettes is “Dexos”, which means it meets GM specifications. Check the manual your owner to find out if the manufacturer requires a specific version of Mobil 1 for your car.)

    Best for chargers and challengers

    Pennzoil Ultra Platinum 0W-40

    Penzoil

    Pennzoil Ultra Platinum Full Synthetic 0W-40 is used in:

    • Dodge Charger SRT, SRT Hellcat

    • Dodge Challenger SRT, SRT Hellcat, SRT Demon

    Best for the F-150

    Motorcraft Synthetic Blend 5W-30

    Ford

    Motorcraft Synthetic Blend 5W-30 is used in:

    • Ford F-150 Raptor

    Best for the Mustang

    Motorcraft Full Synthetic 5W-50

    Ford

    Motorcraft Full Synthetic 5W-50 is used in:

    • Ford Mustang Shelby GT350, GT350R

    Best for Jaguars

    Castrol Edge Professional OE Full Synthetic 0W-20

    Castrol

    Castrol Edge Professional OE Full Synthetic 0W-20 is used in:

    • Jaguar F-type, F-type R, XE, XF, XJ, XJR 575, F-Pace, F-Pace SVR, E-Pace

    Best for Ford GT

    Castrol Edge Supercar 5W-50

    Castrol

    The Castrol Edge Supercar 5w-50 is used:

    • Ford GT (Note: this oil is not currently available at retail in the US with this viscosity, but is available with the viscosity in Figure 10W-60.)

    Best for old American cars

    Valvoline Full Synthetic High Mileage with MaxLife Technology SAE 5W-30 engine oil

    This synthetic oil, one of the brands of OG motor oils, is great for use in most domestic cars with a mileage of 75,000+ miles (note the Dexos label).

    Best for diesel engines

    Shell Rotella T5 Synthetic Blend 15W-40 diesel engine oil

    Ideal for car fleets on highways, construction and agricultural machinery, as well as diesel pickups.

    Best for 2nd oil change

    Royal Purple API License SAE 0W-20 High Performance Synthetic Engine Oil

    Royal Purple API-licensed engine oil provides excellent protection and can improve performance in gasoline and diesel engines.

    Great for Harley and Jeep

    High performance Lucas Oil Synthetic 5W-30 engine oil

    A blend of synthetic base stocks and a high-performance additive package.

    Combine with K&N oil filters

    Fully synthetic engine oil K&N Ultra Premium 0W-20

    Designed to minimize contamination and sludge accumulation.

    Great for Hi-Po engines

    AMSOIL Signature Series 5W-30 engine oil

    Designed for modern high performance engines.

    Best for cars in cold weather

    Car engine oil Red Line 5W30 Full Synthetic Ester Formula

    Great for cars, light trucks, productive vehicles and even marine devices

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