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Substitutes for motor oil? Answered

I am about to turn 15 and am going to get my permit soon. I am excited to drive and get my first car, but want to minimize my impact on the environment. I was wondering if there are any substitutes for motor oil that are not petroleum based. I am looking for an oil from a sustainable resource that is relatively cheap.


You'll consume far more petroleum-based fuel; you should fix that problem before thinking about lube-oil.


I HAVE an idea for that, but I still need some form of lubrication and about $6,000
in research money to develop my idea...

What's the fuel idea, and what costs $6000?


It's not fuel, it involves an air compressor, 2 scuba tanks and a modified piston engine. It costs so much because good 4500 psi air compressors aren't exactly cheap

Compressed air is a poor propellant. Petroleum has much more energy-density at less cost. People use petroleum because there's nothing much better* right now.


*i.e. cheaper.

True, but that's because the filthy-rich corporate oil-drilling companies of the world have haltered massive amounts of research into better, more sustainable, renewable energy sources. For example, regular gasoline can be vaporized and the car could run off the the vapor in order to be between 3 and 8 times more efficient... Of course that hasn't happened yet though... That would mean 3 to 8 times less profit for the gasoline companies.


6 years ago

According to my oil vendor, Mobil 1 is made mostly from a renewable resource, animal fats.

Valvoline has recently started selling 50% recycled motor oil. This or full synth is probably your best bet. Called NextGen, the recycled oil is cheaper than full synth but more than conventional.

Something else you can do is go longer between oil changes. Most modern cars don't need their oil changed every 3000 miles. Personally I go 5000 on my conventional, '99 honda, and 7500 on my full synth '06 mini. The oil would probably last longer than this but the problem becomes the filter.

@lemonie is right though, a much bigger problem is the use of fuel. Reduce your impact by driving less, carpooling more, driving less aggressively, and don't buy a Prius because the NiMH batteries in those are terrible for the environment.

Motor oil breaks down naturally in the environment remarkably quickly anyway.

DO NOT put any oil in an engine that isn't specifically sold for lubrication - Castrol R is not a multigrade, and it will degrade significantly faster than a modern fully formulated synthetic.


True but it answers his question. I like the smell as well.

Castrol R is a natural product made from Castor oil.

Many Synthetic oils are polymers so they are essentially made from oil as a base material. It's just that they have better operating parameters.

Although I applaud your desire to minimize your environmental impact, you must consider the fact that motor oil is designed for a specific purpose. As such, it lubricates mechanical parts and can withstand extreme high and low temperatures. I would NOT advise using anything other than what is recommended for the vehicle you'll be driving to avoid costly repairs. If there was a "sustainable source that was relatively cheap", and better to use than current motor oils, we'd more than likely be using it already. You're only OTHER option is to use a "synthetic" motor oil, but keep in mind, you WILL pay more for it.


6 years ago

I've been using synthetic motor oil in my vehicles for about 10 years now. Its available at almost any place that sells regular motor oil. Its sustainable, but it ain't cheap and that's a fact!