Is all name brand oil that meets specs the same?

Joined
Jun 22, 2016
Messages
47
Location
MI
Is name brand oil, (castrol, valvoline, pennzoil,...) that meets required specs, (dexos..) basically going to give the same results for basic passenger car driving, within a category (synthetic, synthetic blend and conventional),? I was going to ask if they were the same but I know every manufacture has an additive here or there that is proprietary so I just stuck with the idea of, gives the same results. I went to walmart and had pennzoil, castrol, and valvoline in my hand and was wondering if it makes any difference to pick one or the other. I change conventional at 3,000 and synthetic at 5,000 and unless told otherwise think major label oil will all work just as well.
 
Joined
Feb 15, 2020
Messages
625
Location
Florida
The brands you mentioned will do just fine at 5k mile intervals. "The same", strictly speaking, is relative. One might have 2 ppm more calcium, or another might have 10 ppm more moly, but in the end, they're all good. Your engine won't know the difference between Mobil 1 or Pennzoil Plat. vs Havoline or Castrol. As long as it's API certified and full synthetic, go with what viscosity your vehicle requires. Some might burn, some more than others, or not at all. Get the one that doesn't burn and is the least expensive. Full synth at 5k miles is nothing for oils today. Maintenance is 1000x more important than brand of oil.
 
Joined
Apr 6, 2018
Messages
2,394
Location
Somewhere in time
There is virtually zero objective evidence that they are different. BITOG is a feelings place so you'll get lots of feedback about how people feel.

The only objective evidence available is that the oils you mentioned meet the industry standard or manufacturer standard (API SP, Dexos1 G2 or G3, etc...).

So, no, from a performance perspective they are not different.

And don't let anyone opine about their used oil analyses as a justification for one brand over another either. A UOA is an analysis of a specific engine under specific operating conditions. A UOA is not a tool or part of a methodology in which to compare one product performance to another.

Cheers!!!
 
Joined
Jul 23, 2021
Messages
974
Location
PA
I'll push back a little bit. Let me provide VOAs (done by others, I assume they are honest), of the same/similar oils but different companies that show fairly significant differences. Big variations of Moly, Boron, and other ingredients. I assume one formula "must" be a better performer. It would seem that all oil companies would gravitate toward the better product, but that costs more.

First, this inexpensive Carquest/Fram 5w40 has no Moly (a highly regarded friction modifier) and only 68 Boron (a cleaner and friction modifier).
Carquest 5w40 VOA.jpg



Here's a Quaker State 5w40 Euro. 93 Moly and 242 Boron.
Quaker State Euro 5w40.jpg



This Mobil1 0w40 has 80 Moly and 313 Boron.

M1 0w40 Euro VOA.jpg


And this Redline 0w40 has over 569 Moly and 91 Boron.
Redline 0w40.jpg



I'm inclined to believe, to an extent, MORE MOLY and BORON is probably beneficial. So on the low cost end, we have Carquest and the high end we see what Redline looks like.

How much it matters, is up for debate. But we do see big VOA differences in formulas.
 
Joined
May 17, 2021
Messages
930
Location
open range

Is all name brand oil that meets specs the same?

Is name brand oil, (castrol, valvoline, pennzoil,...) that meets required specs, (dexos..)
basically going to give the same results for basic passenger car driving, within a
category (synthetic, synthetic blend and conventional),? I was going to ask if they
were the same ...

Well I would have liked to ask the headline question for a very long
time, but I find it unfair to ask a question that I know the answer for.


... but I know every manufacture has an additive here or there that is proprietary ...

Very most blenders do not use proprietary but generic add packs
instead. Only few companies like Vanderbilt, Infineum and Lubrizol
are suppliers for almost all manufacturers and blenders. Castrol is
one of the few exceptions with its Ti based frition modifier, Ravenol
another one with its W/Tungsten based add pack, which is probably
Vanderbilt's Vanlube W-324. The vast majority uses common generic
add packs and I'm under the impression, most of them are supplied by
Infineum, in particular when it comes to modern PCMOs with current
approvals.

To answer your question: Yes, if two oils meet the same specs and do
come with the same approvals they'll likely both yield to very close if
not the same results. That doesn't mean they're the same though. It's
just that you don't notice the differences (for example in pourpoint, in
Noack etc.).
.
 
Joined
Jul 12, 2012
Messages
3,860
Location
Caldwell Idaho
I'll push back a little bit. Let me provide VOAs (done by others, I assume they are honest), of the same/similar oils but different companies that show fairly significant differences. Big variations of Moly, Boron, and other ingredients. I assume one formula "must" be a better performer. It would seem that all oil companies would gravitate toward the better product, but that costs more.

First, this inexpensive Carquest/Fram 5w40 has no Moly (a highly regarded friction modifier) and only 68 Boron (a cleaner and friction modifier).
View attachment 73857


Here's a Quaker State 5w40 Euro. 93 Moly and 242 Boron.
View attachment 73860


This Mobil1 0w40 has 80 Moly and 313 Boron.

View attachment 73858

And this Redline 0w40 has over 569 Moly and 91 Boron.
View attachment 73859


I'm inclined to believe, to an extent, MORE MOLY and BORON is probably beneficial. So on the low cost end, we have Carquest and the high end we see what Redline looks like.

How much it matters, is up for debate. But we do see big VOA differences in formulas.
It would be nice to know the base oil blend , not that I wound understand the difference.
 
Joined
Jun 3, 2002
Messages
8,331
Location
MI
@CharlesInCharge - your assumptions are wrong. It would be better to evaluate used oil samples at OCI end, used in the exact same conditions/variables. An example of the three oils above with similar TBNs: Tested under the same exact conditions, the oil with "better" additive package might actually end up with a lower TBN after use. We don't know the quality of the base oils and additives. Or, in 3 different engines, the exact same oil might perform differently, i.e., the "poorer oil " according to VOA might actually perform better in engine x,y, or z vs. the "better" oils.

VOA's are not good for comparing oil quality of one vs. another. Of course this does not include oils that are severely deficient in base oil and/or additive qualities. And, I think that most companies gravitate to "good enough" oil at lowest production cost - the profit motive.
 
Last edited:
Joined
Jul 23, 2021
Messages
974
Location
PA
@CharlesInCharge - your assumptions are wrong. It would be better to evaluate used oil samples at OCI end, used in the exact same conditions/variables. An example of the three oils above with similar TBNs: Tested under the same exact conditions, the oil with "better" additive package might actually end up with a lower TBN after use. We don't know the quality of the base oils and additives. Or, in 3 different engines, the exact same oil might perform differently, i.e., the "poorer oil " according to VOA might actually perform better in engine x,y, or z vs. the "better" oils.

VOA's are not good for comparing oil quality of one vs. another. Of course this does not include oils that are severely deficient in base oil and/or additives. And, I think that most companies gravitate to "good enough" oil at lowest production cost - the profit motive.

You say I'm wrong, but then offer a lot of speculation and conjecture words like "we don't know," and "might" several times. Could be there is a significant difference, and hence justification for a 20% price difference between a basic and a premium oil.
 
Joined
Jun 8, 2021
Messages
141
Location
Columbus, OH
Yes and no. They will all probably perform exactly the same because they all meet the same specs and certifications but that doesnt mean they are all exactly the same.
I would agree though that following the maintenance guidelines is far more important than what oil you use.
 
Joined
Oct 27, 2018
Messages
486
Location
MD
I would pick anything not saying Pennzoil on the jug, they burn like no tomorrow. YMMV.
BTW approvals and certificates are minimums one oil may barely pass a threshold some may pass comfortably. So no they are not the same.
 

MolaKule

Staff member
Joined
Jun 5, 2002
Messages
22,371
Location
Iowegia - USA
I would pick anything not saying Pennzoil on the jug, they burn like no tomorrow. YMMV.
BTW approvals and certificates are minimums one oil may barely pass a threshold some may pass comfortably. So no they are not the same.
Somewhat of a sweeping set of generalizations.

Do they volatize quickly only in your engines or is this true across all engine makes and types?
 
Joined
Jul 17, 2003
Messages
872
Location
Ohio
Saying that if two different oils meet the same specs and certifications then they will perform exactly the same with the same results is like saying that if car A gets the same NHTSA or IIHS crash ratings as car B then both will perform the same in a crash. The differences might not be huge but there will be differences. I think it comes down to whether someone feels comfortable with using any oil that meets the minimum specs or if they want to use the very best oil they can easily obtain that might surpass the minimum standards.
 
Top