Is crude oil used in cars?

By Product Expert | Posted in FAQs, Tips and Tricks on Monday, January 20th, 2020 at 8:27 pm
Skyline of an oil refinery at twilight, looking like the backdrop of a Sega Genesis game.

Crude Vs. Motor Oil

You may hear the word “crude oil” batted around the news from time to time. “Crude oil was spilled here,” or “the prices of crude oil are rising there.” What exactly is crude oil? Is this the same oil that we use in our automobiles?

While raw crude oil is not used directly in our vehicles, the oil that is used to lubricate engines is made from refined crude oil. In addition, gasoline and diesel fuel are also extracted from crude oil.

What is crude oil used for?

The majority of crude oil that gets extracted and distilled is used for energy carriers that can be combined into gasoline, jet fuel, diesel and heating oils. Taking a typical barrel of crude oil, 50% is used as gasoline, 40% as diesel fuel, heating oil, jet fuel, and kerosene, and 10% as residual fuel oil.

That last one, “residual fuel oil,” is not the same as motor oil. It’s a heavier, lower value product that’s used for heavy-duty jobs such as fueling ocean-faring ships, making electricity, and powering factories.

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What exactly is crude oil?

Crude oil is the form oil is in once it’s pumped from the ground. A complex series of processes is undertaken afterwards, known as “refining.” This is what results in the finished petroleum products that we use.

Is crude oil the same as motor oil?

No, crude oil refers to unrefined oil. Unlike motor oil, it won’t meet the desired specifications for viscosity, won’t have additives to control oxidation, and won’t have the optimal level of easy flow while boasting resistance to high temperatures and pressures.

Refining crude oil allows one to obtain the portion that can be further optimized to make motor oil. In addition to the qualities above, additives remove water, provide anti-sludge and anti-rust qualities, and more.

Ever Wonder: Why is there a lot of oil in the Middle East?

Oil drilling platform cartoon image on a white background.

One Response to “Is crude oil used in cars?”

  1. Thanks for explaining that crude oil is just oil that has been pumped straight from the ground because I didn’t understand the difference. My husband says that he needs to get our oil changed but he’s not sure what oil to use. I’m trying to help him figure it out.

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