Best Motor Oil

Unless you’ve managed to bag yourself an electric car, then you’re going to need motor oil for your vehicle. But not all motor oils are created equal. Some work better in extreme temperatures, some need fewer oil changes, and some can increase the lifespan of your engine.

We’ve been looking at different motor oils, and after some deliberation, we came up with our favorite 5 to show you.

Best Motor Oil

Those reviews are coming up very shortly, and after that we’ve also got a handy buying guide for you which walks you through everything you might want to think about before you buy.

And to top that off, we’ve also got another handy section where we answer some of your most frequently asked questions.

And with no further ado...

OUR TOP PICK

Valvoline - 881171 Full Synthetic High Mileage with MaxLife Technology SAE 5W-20 Motor Oil 5 QT

This is an excellent quality motor oil!

First off, it’s fully synthetic, so not only is it better for the environment than conventional oil, but it’s also better for cars that see a lot of heavy use, whether that’s from driving at high speeds, or towing or carrying heavy loads.

It’s even good for cars that have a mileage as high as 74,000 miles, that need a little extra TLC.

It’s anti-wear film provides an extra layer of protection to help prevent the engine from breaking down.

And it has loads of other handy additives besides. There are seal conditioners which not only help to reduce oil consumption, but also rejuvenate ageing engine seals to prevent oil leaks.

And there are additives which help reduce oil burn-off and really optimize power output.

Then there’s the antioxidants which are there to help resist motor oil breakdown in extreme temperatures.

Not to mention the extra cleaning agents which help to reduce any deposits and sludge that form.

We love that it’s available in different viscosities, but you must be sure to pick the right one for your vehicle, or you will have problems. (More on viscosity in our buying guide.)

It’s super easy to use, with it’s precision pour spout.

It comes from a great American brand that has been around for a whopping 150 years.

If you click through to the Amazon page, you will see that it’s available in different size bottles, and in different styles. Be sure to pick the right one for your needs.

Pros:

  • Great for cars with high mileage
  • Good, well established brand
  • Loads of useful additives
  • Precision pour spout

Cons:

  • Customer complaints are very few and far between to be honest, but there have been reports that some customers prefer other brands

EDITORS CHOICE

Castrol 06585 EDGE Bio-Synthetic 0W-20 Advanced Full Synthetic Motor Oil, 1 quart, 1 Pack

What we love about this motor oil is how much better it is for the environment than regular motor oil. Rather than being composed primarily of crude oil, this synthetic oil is made with 25% sugarcane derived oil compounds, which are completely renewable sources.

And that’s not all - his oil is also certified carbon neutral! Talk about conserving resources!

But besides all that environment stuff, it's also a really good motor oil. It reduces metal to metal contact under the hood, whatever speed you take it to, and protects the engine even under extreme pressure.

It also reduces the formation of deposits in the engine, so you get an optimum engine response and performance.

It’s available to buy in different size bottles, and in different viscosities. Be sure to check your user manual to get the right viscosity for your particular vehicle. 

This motor oil is also eligible for Amazon’s subscribe and save scheme, whereby you save 5% on repeat purchases.  You can set how often you want your repeat purchases and you can cancel at any time. So convenient.

Pros:

  • Made with 25% sugarcane 
  • Certified carbon neutral
  • Protection under extreme pressure
  • Eligible for Subscribe and Save

Cons:

  • Although the idea is to be as environmentally friendly as possible, it’s not designed for electric or hybrid vehicles

BEST VALUE

AmazonBasics Full Synthetic Motor Oil - 5W-40 - 1 Gallon

You’d think that with “basics” within the product title, that the product would be just ok, but in this case you’d be wrong. 

The 15W-40 full synthetic variety provides better fuel economy, can be used for longer drain intervals, and enables cold weather start ups.

It creates a protective coating in engine components to reduce the wear as the parts move, and minimizing any friction.

It also helps to minimize the build up of deposits that cause rust and corrosion. And it resists thermal breakdown. 

That’s not all though. It also helps to fight volatility burn-off which can reduce exhaust emissions.

It’s also worth noting at this point that the AmazonBasics oil by far outsells the other brands of motor oil available on Amazon. If you click through to the Amazon page, you’ll see that there have been over 13,000 individual customer ratings. And yet the average rating is still 5 stars out of 5!

It’s available in different size bottles, and in different viscosities. Please be sure to get the right type for your particular vehicle. If in any doubt, refer to your user manual.

As you may expect with an Amazon branded product, this oil is eligible for Amazon’s subscribe and save scheme, whereby you save 5% on repeat purchases.  You can set how often you want your repeat purchases and you can cancel at any time. That could potentially come in really handy.

Pros:

  • Excellent value for money
  • Eligible for Subscribe and Save
  • Loads of useful additives

Cons:

  • Retailer’s own brand

RUNNER UP

Pennzoil 550040863 Ultra Platinum Full Synthetic 5W-20 Motor Oil (1-Quart, Single Pack)

Rather than being derived from crude oil like conventional motor oil, this oil is fully synthetic, and is made from natural gas, converted to liquid.

The product description states “No other leading motor oil provides better wear protection for your engine” which is quite a big claim. Unfortunately we personally haven’t been able to test that, but we have examined the customer feedback to find out what people generally think of it.

And the result? Customer feedback is incredibly positive. On the Amazon page alone for example, you will see that after well over 1,250 individual customer ratings, over 90% of customers gave this oil 5 stars out of 5.

We love how it’s built to handle severe driving conditions, like frequent stopping and starting, heavy roads, rough terrain, and low temperatures.

It gets the pistons nice and clean, it gives you better fuel economy, it protects against loss of engine power, and you get better performance when it’s cold, even at -40 degrees Fahrenheit. And when it comes to high temperatures, even up to 400 degrees Fahrenheit, it protects against oil oxidation and degradation.

It’s available in different quantities, so you can really stock up if you want  to.

This motor oil is also eligible for Amazon’s subscribe and save scheme, whereby you can save 5% on your initial purchase, and 15% on repeat purchases.  You can set how often you want your repeat purchases and you can cancel at any time. How handy is that!

Please note that the link will take you to the 5W-20 viscosity only. Only buy if it matches what your vehicle’s user manual says.

Pros:

  • Great for bad conditions
  • Cleans the pistons
  • Eligible for Subscribe and Save
  • Superior wear protection

Cons:

  • Derived from non-renewable sources

RUNNER UP

Castrol 6144 GTX ULTRACLEAN 5W-30 Motor Oil, 1 Quart, 6 Pack

Castrol is a great brand, and they do a number of different ranges for their motor oil. We showed you their most environmentally friendly one earlier, but for our 5th slot we were quite torn between this one, their GTX Ultraclean and their GTX Magnatec. We picked this one because it seems to be the more popular of the two.

Where the Castrol GTX Ultraclean stands out, as the name suggests, in just how clean it gets the car’s components. It provides 1.4 times better protection against deposits and sludge than your regular industry standard.

It’s composed of a synthetic blend, combining conventional motor oil with an added synthetic boost. It has a double action formula, designed to clean away any sludge that could build up, and it can prevent new sludge formation too. This includes protection against high temperature deposits.

But it’s not just good for its superior cleaning effects. It has anti-wear additives that help extend the life of your engine. In other words, it ensures that any friction in the engine remains minimal, so you get better gas mileage. Plus there’s advanced protection against thermal breakdown.

It’s available in various different sizes of bottle, and is available in two viscosities, 5W-30, and 5W-20, so it’s for gasoline fueled vehicles. (More on viscosity in our buying guide later.)

Pros:

  • Superior cleaning of sludge
  • Prevents new sludge formation
  • Loads of useful additives

Cons:

  • Not available on Subscribe & Save

Best Motor Oil Buying Guide

Compatibility

Some vehicles work better with conventional oil, while others work better with synthetic oil. 

If you generally use conventional oil, topping it off with a little synthetic oil won’t hurt it. But at the same time you’ll be diluting the synthetic properties, which will reduce the benefits

If you’re in any doubt about what oil you can use in your vehicle, please consult the user manual.

Types of motor oil

Since the advent of synthetic and synthetic blends of motor oil, conventional motor oil is generally considered inferior, but it still remains common on new cars.

Full synthetic oil is oil which is not derived from crude oil. High performance vehicles like the ones you see on Formula One, work best with full synthetic oil.  

A synthetic blend meanwhile, combines conventional motor oil with a synthetic base. It’s basically conventional oil but with an added boost.

Then there’s high mileage oil, which is intended for vehicles with more than 75,000 miles on the engine. It contains special additives which address common operating issues in such vehicles.

Viscosity

You have to ensure that your motor oil is the right viscosity for your vehicle’s engine. The viscosity is basically the thickness of the oil. You don’t want the oil to be too thick or too thin.

Most gasoline engines have a viscosity grade of 5W-30, 5W-20, and 0W-20, where the number before the “W” is the thickness when the oil is cold, while the number afterward is its thickness when the oil is at normal temperatures.

Diesel engines meanwhile are often rated 15W-40 and 5W-40.

Type of Driving

If you like driving fast, or frequently carry heavy loads in your vehicle, you may want to use a motor oil or one that is designed specifically for these types of tasks, such as full synthetic or high-mileage.

Price

The price of motor oil can vary quite considerably, determined mainly by exactly how much you want to buy. You can pick a 3 oz in for about $2 or buy a whole drum of motor oil for over $1000. Not kidding.

If you wanted to save money on your motor oil you could look into subscription packages, like Amazon’s Subscribe and Save Scheme.

What to look for in your motor oil

In addition to getting the perfect viscosity in your oil, there are a few other things to think about when buying. Basically, there are a number of different additives that can be put into motor oil to achieve different effects.

Preventing natural wear and tear

The main purpose of your motor oil is to keep the car’s component parts sufficiently lubricated, to prevent friction as much as possible in order to reduce general wear and tear. As such this should be the main thing you're looking for in your motor oil, after viscosity.

Keeping the component’s clean

Factors such as poor fuel quality and stop-start driving conditions can lead to varnish and carbon build-up in your engine, and if not kept sufficiently clean, this can result in sludge deposits forming which can cause problems and really be counterproductive to running the vehicle. It reduces engine life and fuel economy.

Allow maximum engine horsepower

The general idea is to always be able to get the maximum output from your engine, with nothing slowing it down. To that end you’ll want to ensure that you have the right additives in your motor oil.

Performance at hot/cold temperatures

Most people like to use their vehicles all year round, including in the summer heat and winter chill. That’s something else to look out for in your motor oil.

Customer Reviews

Sometimes it’s not enough to just put your trust in the product descriptions. It’s customer reviews that really tell the full story of a product.

Incidentally, all of the products in our top 5 picks have all been rated at 5 stars out of 5 on Amazon.com. They’re all best sellers too.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best motor oil on the market?

It was quite hard to come up with our top 5 picks to be perfectly honest with you. But in our minds, the Valvoline - MAXLIFE TECH 5W-20 Full Synthetic High Mileage is the number one, because of just how many additives it has which give it a real edge above all the competition. 

Try as they might, the other brands and formulas just can’t quite match up.

What is the best synthetic motor oil brand?

We would argue that Valvoline is the best synthetic motor oil brand, but Castrol is a very close second. Castrol has a wider range of solution specific formulas, such as one focusing on cleaning the engine and one focusing more on wear protection.

What is the best 5W-30 motor oil?

You’ll be pleased to hear that our number 1 pick, the Valvoline - MAXLIFE TECH Full Synthetic High Mileage, is also available in 5W-30, so we would argue that this would be the best 5W-30 motor oil out on the market today.

Is Valvoline better than Mobil 1?

We would argue that Valvoline certainly is better than Mobil 1. No Mobil 1 products even made our top 5 picks, whereas the Valvoline brand made our number 1 pick.

Is Castrol better than Mobil 1?

We would argue that Castrol certainly is better than Mobil 1. No Mobil 1 products even made our top 5 picks, whereas there are 2 Castrol products in our 5 product line up.

Where is the best play to buy motor oil?

We think that online retail stores are a great place to buy your motor oil from. You’ve got all the product ingredients and details laid out for you, and there’s no pushy sales person breathing down your neck.

Many product pages also feature detailed charts where they directly compare similar individual products. This can come in super handy once you know what’s out there and what  you should be looking for.

And some online retailers, like Amazon, also offer money saving subscription schemes whereby you can have your motor oil delivered right to your door on a regular basis, and you set the frequency.

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