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Know Your Engine Oils: 10 Brands to Look For

Whether heading to your local auto parts store or shopping online, it can be difficult to know which engine oil to choose for your next oil change. Even if you understand the difference between the many different grades of oil and have a preference when it comes to conventional versus semi-synthetic versus full synthetic, there are just so many brands to choose from. To help you sort the wheat from the chaff and narrow down your options, here are 10 of the most popular engine oil brands with reputations for producing high-quality products that you can trust. Whether you chose a major player like Mobil, Castrol, or Valvoline or a niche brand like Royal Purple, Red Line, or Motul, you can count on all 10 of these brands to provide engine oil that meets all current standards for protection and lubrication.

#1 – Mobil

Possibly the most well-known brand of motor oil on the market is Mobil. Its flagship Mobil 1 line of full-synthetic oils was launched in 1974 and has the benefits of being both high-quality and readily available across the county, making it a go-to choice for many DIY mechanics when it is time for an oil change. Part of Mobil 1’s reputation is the oil’s extensive use by car manufacturers and in motorsports. Brands such as Porsche, Bentley, and Cadillac use Mobile 1 in their vehicles, and it is the official oil of motorsports from NASCAR to the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb. The Mobil brand also offers Mobil Super, which is a slightly lower-grade full-synthetic product, and Mobil Delvac, which is intended for heavy-duty diesel trucks.

#2 – Castrol

Another major player in the engine oil market is Castrol, which was founded in 1899 and is currently a subsidiary of BP. The British brand’s distinctive white, red, and green color scheme dates back to 1909 and has been seen in the liveries of several iconic WRC (World Rally Championship) cars. Today, Castrol offers three main brands of motor oil: GTX, GTX Full Synthetic, and Edge. While its older conventional oils are dated and will not provide the same protection as full-synthetic options, its premium products like Edge Extended Performance in its distinctive gold bottle are top-of-the-line options that will do an excellent job protecting your vehicle.

#3 – Valvoline

While Valvoline may be best known for its oil change locations, it actually created the world’s first petroleum-based lubricant in 1866. In the early 20th century, this American oil brand made history by being the factory-recommended oil for the iconic Ford Model T. Today, Valvoline is the third best-selling motor oil brand in the DIY market and the second-largest oil change chain. The brand sells both synthetic and conventional oils under the Valvoline name, which is potentially confusing to shoppers, but you can identify its higher-quality products by their silver bottles.

#4 – Shell Rotella

Another subsidiary of a major gasoline company, Shell Rotella stands out from Mobil 1 and Castrol because it focuses on providing engine oils for heavy-duty diesel vehicles. If you own a diesel truck, you probably know this brand well, as it is by far the most popular pick for this type of engine. The brand’s flagship product is its Shell Rotella T6 full-synthetic oil, but it also offers T5 synthetic blend, T4 Triple Protection, and T1 conventional oil, giving you plenty of options to keep your diesel engine lubricated no matter what specs the manufacturer calls for.

#5 – Pennzoil

The Pennzoil name is a contraction of “Pennsylvania Oil,” the state where it was founded back in 1913. Like Mobil, Pennzoil was born from the dissolution of Standard Oil in 1911. In 2002, Pennzoil was acquired by Shell Oil, and today, it serves as the company’s primary oil brand for passenger vehicles, alongside Shell Rotella for diesel trucks. Pennzoil products are easily identified by their bright yellow bottles but come in a wide variety of options, ranging from the standard Pennzoil synthetic blend all the way up to the Pennzoil Ultra Platinum premium full-synthetic oil.

A person is shown pouring oil.

#6 – Amsoil

A Wisconsin brand founded in 1969 by an Air Force pilot, Amsoil’s claim to fame is its pioneering work in bringing aerospace synthetic oil technology to the automotive world. Amsoil also stands out for being a privately held business not associated with a major oil company. It produces a variety of synthetic oils, from its Signature Series to its Dominator racing oils. The brand has a large number of extremely enthusiastic supporters who attest to its quality, but it tends to be considerably more expensive than similar products from larger oil brands.

#7 – Quaker State

Quaker State is a large but lower-profile motor oil brand with a somewhat complicated history. Another Pennsylvania company, it got its unique name in 1912 from the large numbers of Quakers who historically lived in the area. In 1998, Quaker State was bought out by Pennzoil and is now positioned as the affordable brand in the Shell engine oil family. However, despite its lower profile and price tag than the major oil brands, it is still known for high-quality oil that meets modern standards. Its current product line can be identified by its distinctive green bottles, with black labels for conventional oil, red labels for synthetic blends, and gold labels for full-synthetic oils.

#8 – Royal Purple

Another DIY-oriented brand like Amsoil, Royal Purple, is well-known for its striking purple bottles and the matching purple dye in its products. Founded in 1986 by a synthetic oil researcher, Royal Purple was bought out in 2012 by Calumet Specialty Products Partners, an Indiana conglomerate with a history in the petroleum industry. The brand’s modern line includes a number of full-synthetic products, from its Duralec diesel engine oils to its XPR racing oil. There are many drivers who swear by Royal Purple products, although the brand comes at a premium price compared to more mainstream engine oils.

#9 – Red Line

Founded in 1979 to produce synthetic oils formulated for motorsports, Red Line is now a subsidiary of the gasoline company Phillips 66. However, it still focuses on engineering specialty products and supplies oil to a number of racing teams, including Honda and Acura factory teams. Its motor oil lines include Red Line High-Performance for street cars, Red Line Professional-Series for motorsports use, and Red Line Racing for dedicated race cars. Like all of the more enthusiast-oriented motor oil brands, you can expect to pay significantly more for Red Line products, but many drivers will tell you it’s worth the price.

A close up shows a hand opening a coolant reservoir is shown.

#10 – Motul

While not a well-known brand for many drivers, Motul has a long history dating back to 1853. Originally a subsidiary of Standard Oil, the Motul name was bought by the French company Supra Penn in 1932 and relaunched as a European brand. After its change in ownership, Motul went on to launch the world’s first multi-grade oil in 1953, the first semi-synthetic oil in 1966, and the first fully synthetic oil in 1971. Its flagship product is Motul 300V racing oil, which is divided into Power low viscosity oils, Competition mid viscosity oils, and Le Mans high viscosity oils. However, it also produces a variety of other specialty products, including Motul Classic for classic cars.

Any of these brands will meet the standards for your engine. You can trust them.