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Mineral vs. Synthetic Oil

Synthetic oils are more expensive because of the chemical engineering involved in creating them.

© iStockphoto.com/Joe Belanger

One of the first choices a driver is faced with, whether the car is brand-new or high-mileage, is between mineral and synthetic engine oil.

In a nutshell, mineral oil is the stuff that comes from the ground and is created as part of the oil refining process. This type of oil has been around as long as cars have been around, and it's less expensive than synthetic oils.

Synthetic oils are more expensive because of the chemical engineering involved in creating them. They still have a base mineral oil, but they've been engineered to allow for more miles to be driven between oil changes, and they often have additives to help keep the oil cleaner, longer. It's also more stable at higher and lower temperatures than mineral oil.

Speaking of temperatures, let's take a look at what those numbers on the bottle mean.

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