Is Motor Oil And Engine Oil The Same Thing?

Last Updated on January 22, 2023 by Leepu Da Maxim

Motor Oil And Engine Oil provide the same functionality for a vehicle but they have some differences. Motor oil is used to lubricate the internal moving parts of an engine. On the other hand, engine oil is used to lubricate the internal combustion engine.

Key Takeaways

  • Motor oil is composed of base oils and various additives that improve its performance
  • Motor oil keeps the engine clean, and corrosion inhibitors protect against rust and corrosion
  • Engine oil keeps the engine clean by preventing the formation of sludge and other deposits
  • Some types of motor oils have anti-wear additives to reduce friction and wear of the engine

Composition Of Typical Engine Oil Or Motor Oil

Base oil78%
Viscosity Improvement Additive 10%
Detergent (Clean The Engine)3%
5Dispersant (For Dirt Particles)5%
Wear Protection1%
Other Components3%

Main Features Of The Motor Oil

Both motor oil and engine oil are the same lubricants that are used so that the moving parts of an engine can function properly. In this case, engine oil can have multiple characteristics to be able to provide good performance in each vehicle; however, it is necessary to consider that engine oil is made up of a wide variety of components.

Most of these components are usually common to motor oils intended for vehicles. However, some motor oils may have special additives to offer additional performance advantages. In principle, the base oil is used in combination with various additives. In general, these additives are:

Anti-Wear Additives: In principle, anti-wear additives are the main additives as they prevent the wear of the moving parts of an engine. Thus, this component in the engine oil is responsible for efficiently lubricating the various engine components.

Otherwise, friction would be excessive, and wear would be greatly accelerated without this additive. In turn, these additives usually work within a range of temperatures. That is why there are engine oils with different temperatures to be able to adapt to the climatic conditions where a car is used.

Detergents: On many occasions, a wide variety of contaminating components can enter that damage the different parts of the engine. These are small particles such as dust and dirt.

The engine oil must take care of these small particles that can deteriorate the engine over time. So, the detergent takes care of capturing all these particles and prevents your engine from deteriorating. Of course, different detergents have been incorporated into the engine oils that are available on the market. 

Dispersants: Dispersants have another one of the fundamental tasks within the engine as they are in charge of preventing different particles and debris from agglutinating and being able to settle. When different particles agglutinate and settle, this is a major obstacle for the different moving parts of the engine.

Dispersants, therefore, ensure that the individual liquid or solid particles are kept completely separate. In this way, all pollutants and particles harmful to the engine are kept separate and within the engine oil. When the engine oil is not replaced in time then the advantage and performance of the dispersants deteriorate. 

Viscosity Index Improvers For Multigrade Oils: In particular, viscosity index improvers are responsible for providing greater versatility and performance under different temperature changes.

This can be very useful in some geographical areas where temperatures can be too high during the day and too low at night. In this sense, motor oil has better adaptability than motor oils that do not incorporate this feature.

Main Functions

In principle, engine oil should reduce the wear and friction of the engine’s moving parts as well as clean the engine itself. In this way, internal combustion can take place more efficiently and without any hindrance inside the engine. Also, the detergent takes care of the oxidation of the lubricant and neutralizes the acids originating in the fuel.

Besides, the engine oil must also lower the temperature produced by the internal combustion itself. When this functionality of the engine oil is not established, too high a temperature can damage the internal components of the engine. Of course, any metal parts and components begin to deform at high temperatures.

So, regulating the internal engine temperature is important to take full advantage of the engine’s service life. As if that were not enough, the sealing of piston rings is much more efficient with the help of good engine oil. So, without a doubt, engine oil offers great functionality and is essential for the operation of a car. 

Additional Components 

In some cases, not only the basic components are incorporated into the motor oil that we have mentioned above. Additional parts can also be incorporated to complete the functionality of certain motor oil for a vehicle. Of course, oxidation and corrosion inhibitors are important to prevent these detrimental factors in the engine.

Sometimes a lubricant base may be combined with the ability to inhibit corrosion within the engine without the detergent. You could also include along with this corrosion-inhibiting capability a lubricant base with certain additives to optimize the detergent capability. So, it all depends on the specific needs of each vehicle or non-vehicular engine

Finally, it is necessary to consider that not all motor oils are intended for engines in vehicles. In many cases, lawnmowers or portable electric generators also need engine oil to operate. This is another type of engine and also has moving parts inside it. 

At the same time, each of these engines must also perform certain internal combustion, as is the case with vehicle engines. When it comes to a chainsaw, gasoline-powered gardening equipment, and other similar engines and machines, the operation is very similar.

These engine oils do not have the same components that are required for these smaller engines. An example of this is the two-stroke oil that incorporates certain features that only some lawnmowers need. 

Beyond the exact design of the given engine oil, each of its components is derived from crude oil. The vast majority of motor oils require a petroleum hydrocarbon base material.

The difference between the various motor oils lies specifically in the number of additives they may incorporate. So beyond having the same petroleum hydrocarbon base, it is necessary to purchase the exact motor oil for each vehicle or each non-vehicular engine.