There are as many kinds of engines as there are shades of blue, but not all engines are built the same. How do you know what kind of oil to pick?
Engines are peculiar things. They turn fuel into heat, noise, and ultimately, power – all through the process of internal combustion. This core mechanic is what powers our cars, although not every engine is designed the same way or produces power in the same manner. Power and torque make you move. Power determines how fast your car can possibly go whereas torque is how long it takes for you to get to that maximum speed.
The thing about heat is that it’s both good and bad. If you think about it, it’s kind of like teh tarik – best when warm, but definitely not scalding hot. Teh is tarik-ed to keep it at a nice, pleasant, drinkable temperature – and that’s the same thing with engine oils. You need an oil to be warm to flow smoothly through your engine, but you definitely don’t want it to be scalding hot.
Almost every engine in a car today operates on the same four-stroke idea – intake, compression, combustion, and exhaust. Air and fuel goes into the engine, which is compressed and then ignited, which in turn forces the piston back down and generates the turning force that moves your wheels. This cycle is repeated over and over, thousands of times a minute in order to propel you on your journey.
Where the differences lie are in the designs of the engine and the layouts. The most common design is known as an inline-four, where all four cylinders are in a row. These types of engines are usually liked because they’re nice and small, but that doesn’t mean that they are lacking in performance – race series such as Super GT, DTM, WRC, and World Time Attack are all dominated by machines powered by inline-four engines.
That being said, sometimes size does matter. When you want to put a bigger engine in a car, it makes more sense to start arranging the cylinders slightly differently. The V6 engine looks like two inline-three cylinder engines that are stuck together, and they usually provide bigger engine capacity for a compact overall length. The trade-off is that these engines are usually designed to provide more low-end and mid-range torque – they aren’t really happy when you push them to really high engine speeds.
Want to go even bigger? Larger capacities are usually catered for with the V8 engine, which are like two inline-four engines connected at the hip. There are two different kinds of V8 engines that have unique firing orders and characteristics, but both options are similarly designed for mid-range and low-end torque. In addition to producing a lot of power, V8s also sound amazing and unique, recognizable from a mile away.
Choosing what kind of engine is best for you is a combination of availability and purpose. There’s less importance in the actual design of the engine, and more value in the overall capacity of the engine as well as whether it is turbocharged or naturally aspirated. Larger engines naturally produce more power, as do engines with turbocharging – but fuel economy usually favours smaller capacity engines (though turbochargers help here as well!).
While we’ve waffled on about these three engine types, the real issue that any car owner will face is how to keep their engines running happy, and for a long time. For this, there’s nothing more important than the engine oil you use, as this is what helps to lubricate all the moving components in your engine and keep them moving smoothly.
By the very nature of the combustion process, a lot of heat is generated. This heat in turn is spread throughout your engine and into your engine oil. In a twist of irony, engines actually run most efficiently when they can stay as hot as possible – but material and cost limitations don’t allow us to run them at these kinds of temperatures. Get an engine hot enough and you will literally warp the engine block and head, or lose lubrication and seize the engine – sometimes in catastrophic and explosive ways.
As a result, we have to keep our engines running at the right range of temperatures, and a top quality engine oil can deliver on these requirements – just like how the best teh tarik is just cool enough to drink, but still warms your heart. One of the most critical areas to keep cool is in what is known as your engine bearings, as these little metal surfaces are where oil is pumped into to keep things rotating smoothly. If the oil gets too hot, it tends to lose its film strength and you get metal-on-metal contact – damaging, or even sometimes outright destroying an engine. Keeping your car at optimum performance means keeping it healthy and fighting excessive engine heat.
Picking a top quality engine oil like PETRONAS Syntium, you get °CoolTech™ oil formulation that helps to fight excessive engine heat within those tight spaces, giving you strong film strength without providing excessive resistance. PETRONAS Syntium engine oils have been developed after rigorous testing on some of the most demanding test tracks around the world, designed to fight excessive engine heat that our cars face every day.
From left: PETRONAS Syntium 7000 0W-16, PETRONAS Syntium 7000 0W20, PETRONAS Syntium Hybrid 0W20, PETRONAS Syntium 3000 5W-30, PETRONAS Syntium 800 5W-30
Which of these is the right oil for you? To start, look in your owner’s manual for the recommended oil viscosity – usually two numbers in a XW-Y format (where X and Y are different numbers). From there, you can pick from a range of PETRONAS Syntium oils – PETRONAS Syntium 800 will handle all the situations you can throw at it in modern day driving, PETRONAS Syntium 3000 for optimum performance and even better driveability, and the top-of-the-line PETRONAS Syntium 7000 for the ultimate in lubrication and performance. There’s even a specific oil for hybrid vehicles, with the PETRONAS Syntium 7000 0W-20.
With PETRONAS Syntium keeping things moving smoothly in your engine, you and your car can be #DrivenByInnerCool to deliver a winning performance. Fighting that excessive engine heat means you can drive your car for longer periods of time – in short, optimum engine performance for a trouble-free drive. The broad range of engine oils from #PETRONASSyntiumMY means that you can find the right viscosity of oil, regardless of what kind of engine you have.
If you feel you understand engines and engine oils a little better now, check out this quiz on PETRONAS Syntium’s Facebook page, where you can also get more information on their engine oils. Always make sure to purchase your oil from a reputable source – such as all PETRONAS Mesra outlets, PETRONAS Auto Experts and independent workshops, as well as their official Shopee Store here. And if you like these kinds of technical articles, stay tuned for more #SyntiumSchool sessions in the coming weeks and months.