Oliver Kuhn, deputy head of the oil laboratory at Liqui Moly Q&A

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Although specifically about Motorcycle oil, the exchange regarding PAO vs HC is what I found interesting...




Q: Are all synthetic oils are similar?

OK: Unfortunately, no. There are two different ways in which synthetic oils can be produced. By one of these methods, a so-called PAO (poly-alpha-olefin) oil is obtained at the end. This is the classic synthetic oil as it came on the market in the 1970s. It is chemically very pure and, therefore, very effective—but also very expensive to produce. With the other approach, the oil is produced by hydrocracking, which is why these oils are also called HC oils in technical jargon. HC oils are more modern and came up in the 1990s. Today, they offer the best possible performance for all modern engines.

Q: Should one use a PAO oil or an HC oil?

OK: This choice is often not even available. Almost all oil development nowadays takes place on the basis of HC oils. Many oil specifications can only be met with HC oils.

Q: How can I tell what kind of synthetic oil it is?

OK: That is not so easy, because there are no uniform terms here. In the USA, for example, both PAO oils and HC oils can be described as fully synthetic, but in Germany, only PAO oils may be called synthetic. That is why we give our HC oils the label, Synthesis Technology. Other oil manufacturers use terms such as 100% Synthetic or Synthetic Mix, where it is not clear what exactly is meant.

Choosing Motorcycle Engine Oil - Oliver Kuhn interview Oliver Kuhn, deputy head of the Liqui Moly oil laboratory

Q: That can be quite confusing.

OK: True, but the question of which synthetic oil is actually meant in a particular case is of no importance to drivers and workshops. It is not about which oil is supposedly better. The decisive factor is that the oil meets the specifications which the motorcycle manufacturer has set for that model. This is given in the manual of the motorcycle, or you can use our free Oil Guide at the Liqui Moly website.



Q: So, if the specification is right, it doesn’t matter whether it’s a PAO oil or an HC oil?

OK: Correct. In any case, the additive packages are becoming increasingly important. Today, they are the most important component of a motor oil, besides the actual oil. They provide a large part of the motor oil’s performance. With some very modern motor oils, the base oil is hardly more than just the carrier fluid for the additive packages.

Q: So why are there always discussions about which synthetic oil is the better one?

OK: This is an echo from the past. When the first HC oils appeared 30 years ago, the quality difference to PAO oils was even greater, but that was a long time ago. No expert would have such a discussion today.
 

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And yet most HC oils aren't any cheaper than the PAO ones. Is LM cheaper than Ravenol? is M1 EP 0w-20 more expensive than most other 0w-20's? PAO obviously continues to have a role, or Mobil wouldn't still be using it, nor would Castrol or Valvoline.
 

wemay

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And yet most HC oils aren't any cheaper than the PAO ones. Is LM cheaper than Ravenol? is M1 EP 0w-20 more expensive than most other 0w-20's? PAO obviously continues to have a role, or Mobil wouldn't still be using it, nor would Castrol or Valvoline.

100%
I also don't know what specs can only be met with HC that cannot by a predominantly PAO. Maybe there is, but I'm not aware of any.
 

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100%
I also don't know what specs can only be met with HC that cannot by a predominantly PAO. Maybe there is, but I'm not aware of any.

I'm thinking that statement was poorly worded and he meant that many approvals now required HC bases in order to meet them, but this is at a minimum and implies PAO could be used as well, but that's not stated.
 
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And yet most HC oils aren't any cheaper than the PAO ones. Is LM cheaper than Ravenol? is M1 EP 0w-20 more expensive than most other 0w-20's? PAO obviously continues to have a role, or Mobil wouldn't still be using it, nor would Castrol or Valvoline.
That statement is ridiculous. I yet to see VW508.00/509.00 that is not majority PAO. So obviously, certain performance cannot be achieved with only HC or majority HC. Not that LM is not going to diligently work to get HC in it as they blasted HC as uber oil in 1990's.
 

wemay

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That statement is ridiculous. I yet to see VW508.00/509.00 that is not majority PAO. So obviously, certain performance cannot be achieved with only HC or majority HC. Not that LM is not going to diligently work to get HC in it as they blasted HC as uber oil in 1990's.

Half, but not majority...
Castrol 508

Screenshot_20200807-005844_Chrome.jpg
 
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Helix Ultra Professional AV-L 0W-20 being 80 to 90% FT hasn't much volume left for PAO. Dropping some GTL will work for HC – but why would you, being Shell?
PAO is an expensive way to have pour points drop a few degrees, not much more. And expensive may be meant a few ways.

LiquiMoly's own look like that: https://www.liqui-moly.eu/meguin/produktdb.nsf/id/md_33026.html

https://sichdatonline.chemical-check.de/Dokumente/566/67092_0003_03-07-2020_FR.pdf

Total: https://www.quickfds.com/out/19213-55987-11467-014859.pdf
+ https://schmierstoff-motoroel-fett.total.de/de-de/products/trr-5/QUARTZ-INEO-XTRA-LONG-LIFE-0W-20
 
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Self serving blather. Liqui-Moly sells a lesser product for more money and wants you to believe that they are doing you a favor. I wouldn't be surprised if they don't just repackage tankers full of Warren or Amelie, add some green dye and bump up the price.
 
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LM does seem to be incredibly overrated. German engineering hype.

Thanks for sharing Wemay.

There are some benefits of HC oils though. RDY4WAR can maybe chime in.
 
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Self serving blather. Liqui-Moly sells a lesser product for more money and wants you to believe that they are doing you a favor. I wouldn't be surprised if they don't just repackage tankers full of Warren or Amelie, add some green dye and bump up the price.
You should see their marketing in 1990's. They promoted HC like they invented the wheel. Now, they are saying it is same, while HC 30 years was not as good. But, they promoted it as best thing after sliced bread.
 
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Hmm. So either all synthetic oils protect and perform the same , or he's a liar. If he's telling the truth, then the lowest cost synthetic oil is the same as the highest cost, which completely boots LM out of any consideration and has us all buying SuperTech. If he's lying, then, well, this entire conversation is useless.
 

wemay

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Hmm. So either all synthetic oils protect and perform the same , or he's a liar. If he's telling the truth, then the lowest cost synthetic oil is the same as the highest cost, which completely boots LM out of any consideration and has us all buying SuperTech. If he's lying, then, well, this entire conversation is useless.

Probably somewhere in the middle.
 
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Hmm. So either all synthetic oils protect and perform the same , or he's a liar. If he's telling the truth, then the lowest cost synthetic oil is the same as the highest cost, which completely boots LM out of any consideration and has us all buying SuperTech. If he's lying, then, well, this entire conversation is useless.
The entire conversation is marketing, though surprisingly, he does not wear Made in Germany insignia all over.
 
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