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Engine Oil

Engine oil explained

With an ever increasing range of vehicles available, maintaining these valuable business assets is increasingly important to your bottom line. Any internal combustion powered vehicle will need a regular oil change to maintain efficiency and output, and prolong engine life. Engine oil is, in its simplest terms, a lubricant that reduces wear on essential parts of a vehicle’s engine. However, we all know that engine oil performs far beyond this, and is a vital component for any commercial business relying on the smooth running of vehicles and transport solutions.

For industries reliant on motorised vehicles, be it haulage, transport or racing, using a motor oil to prevent problems before they arise is essential. Maintaining optimum performance increases productivity, thereby reducing any costs long term and improving the lifespan of vehicles. While motor oil was traditionally a simple base oil with a selection of additives, it has evolved into a complex lubricant with several performance benefits, and is integral to the output and efficiency of modern vehicles.

What is engine oil?

Engine oil is a combination of base oil and a range of performance enhancing additives like dispersants, detergents and viscosity improvers. In general, there are three types of engine oil; mineral, semi-synthetic and fully synthetic.

Motor oil is primarily used for lubricating the components of a vehicle’s engine. This lubrication reduces wear and tear, allowing engines to work more efficiently and last longer. Motor oil is produced from a base oil, acting as the carrier oil, with a number of additives then included to target specific functions within the engine. This base oil is roughly 70% of the overall mixture with additives forming the remainder. 

During the combustion process, these additives help to cool the engine, thus reducing excess friction. They also protect the emissions system and combat acid corrosion, helping to increase the longevity of your vehicle. Antioxidants allow engines to perform well across a range of temperatures and dispersant and detergent additives act to clean the engine and stop deposits like dust, sludge and dirt building up. To maximise the capabilities of motor oil, anti-foam additives are included to prevent oils from forming air bubbles which can reduce the lubricant qualities and prevent motor oil from working as effectively. 


The least refined form of engine oil and often the least expensive, mineral oil is generally used only at the manufacturer’s request as it contains the least additives.


The midpoint between a mineral oil and full synthetic, semi-synthetic engine oil has been modified to improve performance yet still offers a competitive price point.

Fully synthetic

The most premium engine oil, fully synthetic oils have been designed and modified to produce maximum results. Whilst they are more expensive, they offer advanced benefits for enhanced performance.

Viscosity ratings

As well as the molecular structure, as noted above, when choosing an engine oil you will need to consider the viscosity rating. Viscosity ratings exist to advise users on how easily an oil pours in certain temperatures. As engine oils have advanced, engine oil additives have allowed standard oil to be manipulated into producing the viscosity needed for specific applications. 

Cold temperature performance: For vehicles operating in winter or in colder regions, a low winter viscosity engine oil will produce optimum engine results. A low winter grade means that the oil thickens less in cold temperatures and will therefore run more easily through your engine

Warm temperature performance: High temperatures can cause some engine oils to become too thin too quickly, compromising overall performance. Using an engine oil with a high viscosity will reduce this problem.

Whilst some mineral oils do offer protection from varying temperatures, fully synthetic oils offer a far more tailored solution with a host of additives to manage the impacts of seasonal weather conditions. 

Motor oil or engine oil?

Motor oil and engine oil are primarily the same thing. The two terms are used to refer to oil that is added to your vehicle’s engine to help it perform better. Both motor oil and engine oil are lubricants made from combining a base oil, usually from a crude oil, with a number of different  additives. The priority is choosing the correct motor oil for your vehicle. We distribute motor oil from premium manufacturers like Shell and Castrol, and you can find more advice and guidance on our partner pages.

Who uses engine oil?

A myriad of businesses are reliant on commercial vehicles, from cars and motorcycles to Light Commercial Vehicles (LCV) and Heavy Goods Vehicles (HGV). Many sectors can benefit from the performance enhancing capabilities of engine oil.

  • Couriers
  • Private garages
  • Motorsport
  • Private hire firms

Better performance. Better business.

Motor oil is beneficial for all modern vehicles, be that domestic cars or business fleets. Using motor oil for business helps manage the total cost of ownership, with the long term benefit of reduced repair costs and vehicles that outlast the competition. Private hire firms, couriers and both LGV and HGVs will perform significantly better with the aid of a top quality motor oil. Motor oil use is, of course, prevalent in motor sport and illustrates the advantages of using a motor oil that specifically targets common engine problems. These high performance vehicles are an advert for motor oil and demonstrate the extended benefits of using it as part of your vehicle’s regular maintenance routine. 

A regular part of your routine

Regularly changing the oil filter and engine oil is a straightforward yet essential task to get the most from your engine oil and, ultimately, from your vehicle. How long engine oil lasts will depend on the frequency of use and the overall output of your vehicles. For modern vehicles, it can be anywhere from 10,000 miles up to 24,000 miles. Truck engine oil is likely to need changing after around 70,000 to 80,000 miles. It’s always worth checking your engine oil level regularly and topping up as necessary. For large fleets of commercial cars or lorries, or for performance reliant vehicles, maintaining engine oil levels and using the right engine oil can keep you one step ahead of the competition.

Benefits of motor oil

The engine boosting additives included in motor oil work to target specific challenges. The benefits of using motor oil include:

Reduces corrosion Corrosion inhibitors help to neutralise acids that can weaken and corrode engine parts.

Prevents damage – Damage from heat and friction is targeted by anti wear additives and friction modifiers for an engine that lasts longer.

Enhanced efficiency – Fuel consumption is increased when friction occurs within an engine. With motor oil minimising the effect of friction, fuel consumption is more economical, and emissions are also reduced.

Improves engine health As well as cleaning and preventing the build up of sludge and dirt, motor oil creates a protective layer between engine components like pistons and cylinders. 

Stabilises heat production – Motor oils help to release heat and work in tandem with coolant products during the combustion process.

Buying engine oil

Castrol Service lubricants advisor UK

Certas Lubricant Solutions sells an extensive range of engine oils from leading manufacturers like Castrol, Shell, Valvoline and Q8Oils. If you’re looking to purchase engine oil for commercial and business use, you can browse our catalogue or call us on 0345 266 6055. We distribute in small and large quantities and offer full technical support to help you choose the right engine oil for your specific business and vehicle function.

When buying engine oil, the biggest things to consider are:

  • Whether a fully synthetic, semi synthetic or a mineral oil is required
  • The correct viscosity 
  • The engine oil grade required 
  • The car or truck manufacturer’s specification, which can usually be found in the operating manual

Time to buy

Selecting a motor oil to provide optimum results comes down to the desired result and the specific use and function of your vehicle or fleet. Certas Lubricants is partnered with premium motor oil manufacturers, offering only the best products. Buying cheap motor oil may seem an attractive option, but using a high quality lubricant will give better results and offer value for money over the life of your cars, vans and lorries.

Our partners

We are partnered with leading global engine oil suppliers. Each manufacturer can guide and advise you on which oil in their extensive portfolio will best suit your needs. You can find details and information on our partner pages or go straight to the engine oil checkers for each brand.

Making the right choice

  • All of our premium manufacturing partners offer advice and support when choosing the right motor oil. They each have a helpful lubricant selector where you can input your vehicle details to find the motor oil that suits your needs. Alternatively, you can call us on 0345 266 6055 and we will be happy to help with any queries you may have.

Engine Oil FAQs

Engine oil comprises a base oil, generally distilled crude oil,  which then has a series of additives mixed in during the production process. These additives contribute to the engine oil’s capabilities. Mineral, semi synthetic and fully synthetic oils all have many additives including detergents, dispersants and viscosity index improvers. The final blend of additives is what manufacturers use to determine the engine oil grade and specification.

Engine oil performs several key functions. Primarily, it reduces friction of the engine parts to minimise wear and tear over time. Additionally, engine oil can help to regulate the temperature of the engine, while dispersant additives keep soot in suspension and detergents maintain the cleanliness of the engine.

You can find help choosing the right engine oil by using the manufacturer’s handbook for the vehicle or truck you are using. You will also find lubricant selectors on premium manufacturers’ websites such as Shell, Valvoline and Castrol.

Premium approved manufacturer engine oil  has been tested to last for the planned drain interval. Commercial vehicles check and change the engine oil at regular intervals to help prolong the lifespan of engines and reduce long term repair costs.

Choosing the right engine oil for the right job ensures the engine will perform exactly as the manufacturer intended it to and will protect the engine for maximum performance and longevity. Therefore, getting the best price means paying for a product that offers long term cost savings. Some engine oils may seem cheaper initially but will result in reduced output over the life of the engine, ultimately costing more in repairs or even replacements.

Using motor oil in your vehicle engine is an effective and easy way to improve the performance and engine capability. Not only does it improve fuel efficiency and reduce damage, but it acts alongside coolants to release heat, and cleans dirt and deposits from engine parts.

The motor oil you need will depend on the vehicle in question and its use. Using a top quality motor oil from a premium manufacturer like Shell or Castrol will ensure you are getting the absolute best product for your engine.

Each motor oil has its own benefits. Leading manufacturers design and produce motor oils that have been rigorously tested to provide maximum results. When choosing a motor oil, though the cheapest one may seem attractive, opting for a high quality product will result in cost savings over time and achieve far better value for money.

For a healthy engine and to get the most from your vehicles, particularly business fleets, it’s essential to use motor oil. Paying for costly repairs or damages can be avoided by regularly checking and changing the motor oil.

Motor oil and engine oil are, in basic terms, the same thing. They are a base oil combined with a number of additives. This lubricant oil is then added into an engine and carries out several functions, such as cooling, cleaning and protecting to both increase output and extend the life of your vehicle.

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