Quicksilver Blog

Good, Better, Best: Selecting the Right Oil for Your Engine

Oil is the lifeblood of your engine. Whether your recreational activities occur on water, highways or trails, you count on your engine to be reliable and long-lasting. One way to ensure years of faithful service from your boat, motorcycle, snowmobile, ATV or UTV is to select a high-quality oil and change it regularly.

Why Choose Quicksilver?

Quicksilver has been in the oil and lubricants business for more than 70 years and has achieved a well-earned reputation for delivering performance, protection and peace of mind to generations of discriminating boat owners. Quicksilver oils provide the same benefits to powersports enthusiasts, including motorcyclists, snowmobilers and ATV and UTV riders with a full range of oils and lubricants developed and tested with the same rigorous commitment to quality.

Choosing the Right Oil

With many oil choices available, how do you decide which one is best to use in your engine? Let’s get one thing out of the way right up front. While it’s possible to purchase the wrong oil for your engine, it’s difficult to buy a truly bad oil. However, several factors should be considered when making your selection, including cost, how frequently and where you use your engine, and how hard you use it. There are three primary decisions to make when selecting the best oil for your application. We’ll break it down into steps.

Step 1

Is it the right type of oil for your engine? For a boat or snowmobile engine, you’ll want to select an oil rated for either a two-stroke or four-stroke engine, depending on the type you have. Diesel engines and most motorcycles also require specific types of oil. Check your owner’s manual and the packaging to ensure you are buying the correct oil type for your application.

Step 2

Is it the correct weight grade? This is also determined by consulting your owner’s manual. Most modern engines specify a multi-viscosity oil for use in a wide range of temperatures and climates. Viscosity rating is usually listed prominently on the oil label, for example, as 10W-30. The first number indicates the weight or viscosity of the oil when it’s cold; the second number is the weight of the oil at the engine’s full operating temperature. The lower the number, the thinner the oil is at any given temperature and the easier it flows through the engine. Some manufacturers may recommend optional viscosity ratings depending on the season of the year or average ambient outdoor temperature in the climate where you live. If there is a choice, pick the viscosity that best fits your operating environment.

Step 3

Choose a mineral-based, synthetic-blend or full-synthetic oil. Here’s where the choice gets a little tougher because there are a few options and none of them are wrong or bad. One way to look at this choice is between a good, better or best option for your application. Let’s break down the differences between these types of oil base stocks and some reasons to choose one over another.


Mineral-based oils are refined from petroleum crude oil, like gasoline. Additives such as detergents, anti-foaming agents, viscosity improvers and friction modifiers are blended with the mineral base stock to provide the lubrication, viscosity, wear prevention, and corrosion resistance properties of the oil. Of the three types of oil discussed here, mineral-based oil is typically the lowest in cost and is a good choice for engines that are not frequently operated in extreme performance applications or highly abusive conditions or for owners on a tighter budget. All Quicksilver mineral-based oils meet or exceed manufacturer’s specifications for their intended application, including the harsh operating conditions of the marine environment.

Synthetic Blend

As the name suggests, synthetic-blend, or semi-synthetic, oils are made up of a combination of mineral-based and highly refined synthetic base stocks. In a synthetic blend, the percentage of each base stock varies by the manufacturer and application to achieve the desired properties of the specific oil product, with the synthetic oil typically making up about 15 to 30 percent of the base stock. Like mineral-based oil, an additive package is then blended with the base stock to provide the lubrication properties of the oil. Quicksilver’s synthetic blend oils provide all the protection qualities of its mineral-based oil plus some of the benefits of full-synthetic oils, including greater shear strength, improved viscosity retention and increased protection against engine wear and corrosion.

Full Synthetic

Full-synthetic lubricants are formulated with synthesized base stocks that are very pure, without residual molecules or lingering impurities remaining from the refining process. This makes synthetic oils more chemically stable and resistant to acidification and oxidation, which cause oil to break down over time and reduce its protective properties. Compared to mineral oil and synthetic blends, full-synthetic oil provides the highest level of protection against corrosion and wear, especially when operating at maximum output and high temperatures for extended periods of time. This greater protection does come at a higher cost. Synthetic oils are especially suitable for air-cooled engines, high-performance and racing applications, and for owners who want the best possible protection for their engine.

The Bottom Line

In the final analysis, selecting the best oil for your engine is a personal choice, hopefully one now made armed with more knowledge about the factors that differentiate the options you have. Whatever your choice, Quicksilver offers a full range of engine oils for marine, powersports and racing vehicles to suit nearly every powersports enthusiast’s application and budget. Choosing Quicksilver is an investment in performance, protection and peace of mind.