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Advance Synthetic Oils Supporting the Evolution of Vehicle Performance

Advanced Synthetic Engine Oils – Supporting the Evolution
of Vehicle Performance

Burke Lubricants – Authorised Distributor of

ExxonMobil Lubricants and Specialties

Much has changed in the world of engine oils over the last 50 years.  Historically, multi-grade lubricants were seen as a technology breakthrough as they eliminated the need to switch between summer and winter oils.  Today, however, the latest synthetic engine oils such as Mobil 1 play a crucial role in vehicle and engine design to enable Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) to develop cars that run efficiently for longer and for less, while complying with ever-increasing emissions legislation. The market continues to tighten and become even more competitive for oil suppliers, so it is vital to stay on top of the issues and challenges as well as the latest innovations.

Evolving Engine Design

Over the past decade, manufacturers have made extraordinary advances in automotive design and engine technology.  Now these advances in engine design, such as turbochargers, petrol direct injection, variable valvetrain systems, clean diesel engines and hybrids are increasingly making their way into the mainstream automotive market.

Compared to traditional combustion engines, these new engine types are typically smaller, deliver more power and better fuel economy, and produce lower CO2 emissions.

Along with changing the current landscape of vehicle offerings, these technologies serve as a valuable preview of the future, where various engine styles and types will be used by manufacturers to meet rapidly expanding consumer and marketplace needs.

As these advanced engine designs and future engine technologies continue to become more common, drivers will need to know how best to protect and maintain their vehicles.  This includes the fact that, when it comes to protecting today’s engine types, using a fully synthetic motor oil is a far better option than relying on conventional, mineral-based products. 


Traditionally used to improve power output from high performance engines, turbochargers are being used more and more by leading manufacturers in everyday passenger vehicles as a means to enhance engine output and improve fuel economy. 

However, while turbochargers are a great way to improve the performance of a vehicle, they operate at very high temperatures.  Conventional motor oils are less suited for use in turbochargers because they tend to become unstable when exposed to high temperatures and, over time, can start to burn inside the turbocharger, generating deposits - a process called “coking”.

These deposits can clog oil passages and channels, restricting oil flow through the turbocharger, which can make turbocharger operation unstable.  Ultimately, this can lead to turbocharger seal issues, higher oil consumption and even turbocharger failure.  Fully synthetic motor oils, such as Mobil 1, offer valuable high-temperature stability.  They are designed to resist oxidation and protect critical engine parts even under some of the most demanding conditions, thus reducing deposit formation and enhancing the performance, reliability and durability of a turbocharged engine.

Petrol Direct Injection (PDI)

First introduced to the mainstream automotive market in the mid 1990’s, petrol direct injection technology is another growing engine design trend that is here to stay.  The major advantages of a PDI engine are increased fuel efficiency and high power output.  The cooling effect of the evaporating fuel, injected directly into the cylinder in small, even amounts, rather than outside it, makes higher fuel economy and performance possible.  Emissions levels can also be more accurately controlled using the PDI system.

However, as with many of today’s more advanced engine technologies, PDI systems can result in a great deal of heat, which can put greater stress on critical components.  As a result, a synthetic motor oil that is specifically designed to withstand high levels of friction and heat can help minimise oxidation and cope better with particulate matter.  Consequently, it represents a far better lubricant choice than a conventional, mineral-based oil.

When exposed to the greater heat produced by a PDI system, conventional oils are more prone to vaporisation, which leads to oil being drawn up into the air intake and subsequently deposited on the intake valve.  These intake valve deposits can cause a reduction in fuel economy and performance.

By comparison, fully synthetic motor oils, such as Mobil 1, offer greater thermal and oxidative stability and can deliver better overall protection for PDI systems.  Exemplifying the growing popularity of PDI systems, many OEMs are further optimising PDI technologies by combining them with turbochargers, variable valve timing and/or variable intake manifold designs to generate improved torque and power, as well as better fuel economy.


Of all new engine technologies to hit the passenger vehicle market in the past decade, hybrids probably have received the most attention.  Hybrids are vehicles that use two or more power sources, typically an internal combustion engine and an electric motor.  The main benefits of hybrid cars are their ability to deliver advanced fuel economy and lower emissions, compared to a traditional petrol engine.

In terms of maintenance, fully synthetic lubricants, such as Mobil 1, offer the same performance benefits for hybrid vehicles as they do for traditional engines, including better overall engine protection.  They offer the best way to ensure long-term engine cleanliness to help maintain the excellent fuel economy that hybrid engines provide.  

Variable Component Technologies

Many of today's new engines incorporate what is called "variable technology.”  Certain engine components that were traditionally fixed with respect to geometry and/or timing are now designed to adjust according to the needs of the vehicle.  The result is that components like valves, camshafts, turbochargers, oil pumps, etc., automatically adjust to optimise the efficiency, and hence fuel economy, of the engine operation.  These variable systems are typically actuated hydraulically and it is often the engine oil that is used as the hydraulic fluid.  Beyond lubricating and protecting engine parts, engine oil now has an additional function and serves as the hydraulic fluid to operate some of these variable systems.

As with any hydraulic fluid, it is extremely important that an excessive amount of air is not entrained in the oil during operation.  This can cause the variable component(s) to malfunction, leading to inefficient operation and possible engine problems. 

Due to the fact that engine oil naturally becomes aerated as it functions throughout the engine, there is a strong chance that air will be present in the oil as it returns to the sump.  Using an oil that can quickly release the air prior to it being called upon to operate these variable systems is important.  Synthetic motor oils, such as Mobil 1, are well designed to handle engine oil aeration and so are ideal for engines with variable valve timing to provide maximum performance and protection. 

A Wide Range of ‘Clean’ Diesel Technologies

Today, there are many types of “clean” diesel technologies that are being incorporated into the global automotive marketplace, with leading OEMs and ambitious new companies all developing and advancing various technologies related to the reduction and control of emissions.

The demand for “clean” diesel engines has been on a dramatic upswing for several reasons.  Many types of diesel engine offer significant fuel economy benefits over petrol engines.  For example, diesel engines that use emission control technologies typically produce less carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases, while running just as well as petrol-powered cars.

Though the rise in demand for “clean” diesel engines is largely coming from Europe, in response to more stringent European emission requirements, nearly every major OEM is working to expand its diesel offering.  In addition, European oil drain intervals typically range from 15,000 kilometres up to 30,000 km (9,300 miles to 18,600 miles), higher than in other parts of the world.

For all diesel engines, there is a higher degree of thermal stress placed on the engine oil, particularly in the piston / cylinder zone.  The result is that engine oils must be able to withstand the heat to adequately protect against piston deposits and cylinder wear. Additionally, the increasing use of biofuels has had indirect consequences for the engine oil and the engine protection that it provides.  The primary lubricant concern is excessive fuel dilution, as bio-materials have been shown to cause oil to breakdown more rapidly than usual, which can lead to increased deposits and wear.  Fortunately, premium synthetic oils such as Mobil 1 are better equipped to resist degradation, hence keeping diesel engines performing as intended.

In addition, in order to help minimise emissions, many OEMs are incorporating Diesel Particulate Filters (DPFs) into exhaust systems to help remove diesel particulates or soot from exhaust gas.  Some Mobil 1 oils have been developed to be fully compatible with the latest DPFs, engineered to offer low sulphated ash, phosphorus and sulphur.

Developing Next Generation Engine Oils

Research & Development

Developing oils to meet these ongoing advancements in engine and vehicle designs takes significant resource and expertise.  At the centre of ExxonMobil’s ongoing development programme is the ExxonMobil Technical Centre based in the US.  Here, for over 85 years, lubricant engineers work as part of a wider team, including marketing and technical advisors across the globe, to create new Mobil 1 formulations.

While over the years Mobil 1’s formulations have become more advanced, the Mobil 1 founding formulation principles have never changed.  It all begins with the selection of top quality, high performance base fluids and optimum performance chemical additive components.  Then, using the latest techniques of formulation creation, ExxonMobil‘s world class formulators blend this complicated mixture of base fluids and additives together to custom-design proprietary, Mobil 1 formulations.

Products developed at the centre undertake rigorous laboratory tests and field trials to ensure they meet, and in many cases exceed, OEM requirements.  These includes tests which ensure that oils can operate in ambient temperatures as low as -35°C as well as demanding durability and protection procedures to ensure engine performance is optimised under a wide range of operating conditions.

Collaboration with OEMs

However, this research and development work is not undertaken in isolation and an important element of the success of Mobil 1 oils to date is development and collaboration programmes with leading OEMs.

ExxonMobil has over 30 engineers operating worldwide whose job it is to provide lubrication consultancy to OEMs.  This is to make sure that OEMs are fully familiar with the lubrication technology that ExxonMobil has available today and is developing for the future.

At the same time, ExxonMobil likes to understand what OEMs have in mind as they seek to develop its technology.  So ExxonMobil works closely with OEMs to develop solutions which maximise performance.

Today, this approach has led to Mobil 1 being recommended by more OEMs than any other oil brand in the world, with four out of the top five vehicle manufacturers choosing Mobil 1 for one or more of their flagship vehicles.

Track to Road Technology Transfer

Partnerships with global brands such Vodafone McLaren Mercedes, Porsche and Corvette are much more than just sponsorship and branding platforms for Mobil 1 oils.  Motorsport provides an array of conditions in which to test Mobil 1 lubricants.  Grand Prix racing is the ultimate proving ground for Mobil 1 technology because the lubricant has to work so hard on maximising performance.  This is in contrast to DTM in which the lubricant needs to focus on durability, as the engine needs to run for a whole season rather than just two races.  Such a variety of testing conditions enables ExxonMobil to offer performance and protection for almost any driving condition, something that benefits all motorists through the supply of products which help reduce engine wear, improve fuel economy and performance.

ExxonMobil’s Latest Engine Oils

Two products that have been developed through this comprehensive approach and that are proving popular with OEMs and customers alike are Mobil 1 ESP 5W-30 and Mobil 1 New Life 0W-40.

Mobil 1 ESP Formula 5W-30is an advanced performance synthetic engine oil designed to help provide exceptional cleaning power, wear protection and overall performance. Mobil 1 ESP Formula 5W-30 has been expertly engineered to help prolong the life and maintain the efficiency of emission systems in both diesel and petrol powered vehicles.  Mobil 1 ESP Formula 5W-30 meets or exceeds the requirements of many leading industry and car manufacturers' standards specified for newer diesel and petrol powered passenger car engines.

Mobil 1 ESP Formula 5W-30is made with a proprietary blend of leading edge components formulated to be fully compatible with the latest Diesel Particulate Filters and Petrol Catalytic Converters.  Mobil 1 ESP Formula 5W-30 has been designed to help deliver outstanding performance and protection in conjunction with fuel economy benefits.

Mobil 1 New Life 0W-40 advanced formula contains additives specially developed to better protect motor engines by preventing build-up on critical engine parts, allowing engines to run like new after several hundred thousands of miles, even in the harshest driving conditions.  By keeping car engines cleaner, New Life oil means that engines no longer have to work so hard to power cars, reducing the amount of fuel burnt when driving, which ultimately gives savings to the driver and reduces CO2 emissions.

The oil is a high-technology, fully synthetic engine oil, with an optimum combination of synthetic base oils designed to meet these demands.  It has a package including a number of specially developed additive components to provide long-term protection under the most extreme conditions and keep engines performing like new.

The Future

Today, the global automotive market is evolving at a rapid pace. Regulatory requirements are calling for greater fuel efficiency and lower emissions.  Consumers are demanding more than ever, looking for cars that not only deliver exceptional performance, increased power and durability, but also offer improved fuel economy.

To meet these marketplace demands, the world’s leading OEMs are increasingly developing and introducing a host of advanced engine technologies, such as turbochargers, PDI systems, variable component systems, hybrids and clean diesel systems.  Compared to traditional combustion engines, these new engine types are typically smaller, deliver more power and better fuel economy, and produce fewer CO2 emissions. 

In the next 10 to 20 years, the technology evolution for engine design will probably continue at an even more rapid rate, further changing the automotive marketplace and putting more emphasis than ever on the value that synthetic motor oils can deliver.  Mobil 1 will continue to evolve its portfolio of advanced synthetic engine oils to help OEMs realise these technology improvements.