An Engine Oil Is More Than Its Base Oils

Focus more on what AMSOIL products do and less on what they are made from.


Sometimes we are asked to divulge details about our engine oil formulations. Typically, they want to know the type of base oils we use since some enthusiasts want only synthetic oil made from polyalphaolefin (PAO) base oils, which they view as the best. And who doesn’t want the best?

Well, they’ve come to the right place because we’re in the business of making the best lubricants on the market. However, it’s critical to understand that you’re not simply putting a base oil in your engine – you’re putting in a fully formulated lubricant. For-that reason, you must consider the performance of the entire formulation, which can include multiple types of base oils and a full slate of additives.

The American Petroleum Institute (API) classifies base oils in a range from Group I-Group V.

  • Group I base oils are the least refined. They are usually a mix of different hydrocarbon chains with little uniformity. While some automotive oils use these base oils, they are generally used in less-demanding applications.
  • Group II base oils are common in conventional oils. They offer decent performance in the areas of volatility, oxidation stability, wear prevention and flash/fire point. They have only fair performance in areas such as pour point, viscosity retention and cold-crank viscosity .
  • Group III base oils consist of reconstructed molecules that offer improved performance in a wide range of areas, as well as good molecular uniformity and stability. Manufacturers can use these synthesized materials in the production of synthetic and semi-synthetic lubricants.
  • Group IV base oils are made from polyalphaolefins (PAOs), which are chemically engineered synthesized base oils. PAOs offer excellent stability, molecular uniformity and improved performance.
  • Group V base oils are also chemically engineered oils that do not fall into any of the categories previously mentioned. Typical examples of Group V oils are esters, polyglycols and silicone. This is a catch-all for anything that doesn’t fit into the other four groups, and some Group V oils are unsuitable for automotive use.

Unlike food, which generally gets less healthy the more it’s processed, base oils generally offer improved
performance as the level of manipulation increases. Because motor oil is more than just base oils, however, you cannot assume the final product follows suit.

For example, some oils made from Group III base oils can outperform some Group IV engine oils. Can that be true? Yes, because the final formulation is a function of the base oils and additives working together. Like base oils, additives come in a range of qualities. You could have a Group III-based engine oil with top-shelf anti-wear, antioxidant and other additives that outperforms a Group IV-based oil, even though Group IV base oils provide more pronounced benefits than Group III base oils. The point is, an oil can’t be judged solely by its base oils – the entire formulation must be taken into account. It’s much like the analogy that one should not judge a book by its cover.

This is a key point to remember about our base-oil technology. Users want the best protection possible, which they assume only PAO-based synthetics provide. Great! We want people to seek the best protection for their equipment. However, the type or types of base oils used in any formulation are not more relevant than the type of additives used. Those elements work together to provide the protection the engine receives from the oil.

Like other companies, we hold formulation details as proprietary and don’t divulge our trade secrets. Sorry. Revealing such details would give the competition an advantage that you can bet they aren’t going to give us. We purchase a variety of base oils from a variety of suppliers. Our independence is a strength since we’re not tied to a single supplier like many other companies. Instead, we source raw materials from all available suppliers. There are two nonnegotiable points: raw materials must possess the performance characteristics we desire, and they must be of excellent quality. No “ifs,” “ands” or “buts.” We then tailor our oils to be the best on the market.

We acknowledge the desire for top-tier protection, but remind them that what the oil does is more important than its individual ingredients. Check out our test results ( that show our superiority compared to industry standards and competitive products. We think you will agree that AMSOIL is The First In Synthetics

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For more information or pricing on the quality line of AMSOIL Products contact SLS Associates. Whether you are a Consumer, Retailer, or Commercial Business, we will answer your questions, explain any options and you take it from there. If you choose to try AMSOIL products we will give you our best price and you make the decision. No pressure. It’s your choice.

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