Valvoline vs. Pennzoil: Which is the BEST Motor Oil Brand?

Regarding motor oil, only two brands matter: Pennzoil and Valvoline; both have been around for over a century and earned a reputation for quality. So which one is the better choice?

The answer, unfortunately, is that it depends. Both Pennzoil and Valvoline make excellent motor oils; which is best for your car will ultimately come down to personal preference. However, you should be aware of some key differences between the two brands before deciding.

About Valvoline

Valvoline is an American automotive and industrial lubricants manufacturer founded in 1866. The company’s signature product is its motor oil, but it also produces various other products, including transmission fluids, gear oils, hydraulic oils, and greases. Valvoline is the oldest continuously operating lubricant company in the United States.

For more than a century, the company has established itself in more than 140 countries across the globe.

According to the information on their website, Valvoline ranks 3 in-car motor oil in the DIY market space and number 2 chain by the number of stores in the US. Additionally, it operates about 1400-quick-lube locations across the US.

Valvoline’s motor oil products are marketed under the Valvoline, MaxLife. The company also manufactures and sells a variety of other automotive chemicals, including antifreeze/coolant, brake fluid, and power steering fluid. Valvoline has over 3,500 employees and operates in more than 140 countries worldwide.

Pros Cons
Gives better engine protection against lacquer and sludge accumulation The case are made of low-quality materials
The oil offers superior engine protection in cold and hot climates Shorter oil change frequency
Ideal for most synthetic and conventional lubricants
It can be used with turbocharged engines
Gives improved fuel economy

Types of Motor Oils by Valvoline

MaxLife High Mileage

Maxlife is a brand of motor oil produced by Valvoline. It was introduced in 2000 as a motor oil designed for use in high-mileage vehicles. The oil is formulated to provide maximum protection against engine wear and deposits while also helping extend the engine’s life. The motor oil is available in both conventional and synthetic varieties.

Just as its name suggests, the Maxlife high mileage is a motor oil designed for cars that have exceeded over 75,000 mileage markers. The essential formula is a blend of premium conventional oils with synthetic oils to keep a high mileage engine running smoother like a new engine.

Key features:

  • 40% better engine protection than normal motor oils with additives
  • Temperature protection, regardless of the climate you live in
  • The motor oil is equipped with anti-friction agents that help reduce friction and minimize engine wear
  • Added detergents that help reduce deposits, sludge, rust, and corrosion hence keeping the inside of the engine clean.

The Maxlife high mileage is available in the following options: SAE 0W-20, SAE 10W-30,SAE 10W-40, SAE 20W-50, SAE 5W-20 and SAE 5W-30

Full Synthetic Motor Oil

Valvoline full synthetic motor oil is an advanced motor oil designed to provide superior performance and protection. Unlike its conventional competitors, the oil is stable and less prone to thermal breakdown.

It is formulated with premium synthetic base oils and unique additives to help protect against engine wear, sludge build-up, and oil degradation. In addition, the motor oil also provides excellent protection in extreme temperatures and helps to maintain fuel economy. It is compatible with all types of engines and is recommended for use in vehicles that require full synthetic motor oil.

About Pennzoil

Pennzoil is an American oil company founded in Texas in 1913. The company has been a subsidiary of Shell Oil since 2002.

Pennzoil produces motor oil, transmission fluid, gear oil, and other lubricants for automotive, industrial, and marine applications.

It also produces synthetic motor oil and other chemicals for the automotive and industrial markets.

Pennzoil Pros and Cons

  • Superior performance in all climates
  • Protects and lubricates vulnerable parts of the engine
  • Ideal for frequent cold starts
  • The oil can be recycled and reused


Not compatible with all motor vehicles

Valvoline Vs. Pennzoil Detailed Comparison

Specifications Pennzoil Platinum Valvoline Advanced
Popularity 1st in the US 2nd
Oil Type Fully Synthetic Fully Synthetic
Engine Type Both Gasoline and Diesel Engine Both Gasoline and Diesel Engine
Oil change frequency 5,000 to 7,500 miles 3,000 to 4,000 miles
Cost 23.97$ per 5-quart 34.99$ per 5-quart
Additives Dispersants, Detergents Detergents, Anti-wear
Available viscosity grades 0W-20, 5W-20, 5W-30, 10W-30 and 0W-16 0W-16, 0W-20, 0W-40, 5W-20, 5W-30 and 10W-30
ACEA A1/B1, A5/B5 A3/B4



According to a recent survey published on the Statista website, Pennzoil is 39% of the market share of motor oils in the United States. The second in the line is Valvoline, with a 22% share.

Valvoline vs. Pennzoil

However, it’s important to note that Valvoline has been around for over 150 years. Pennzoil is also a well-known motor oil brand, but it is not as old as Valvoline. Both brands are popular among car owners and mechanics alike.

But if you prefer something that most car owners like, I would highly recommend Pennzoil.


Viscosity is essential in choosing the right motor oil for your car. But what exactly is Viscosity, and how does it affect your engine?

Viscosity is a measure of how thick or thin a liquid is. The more viscous a liquid, the more resistant it is to flow. When it comes to motor oil, the higher the Viscosity, the better it will protect your engine against wear and tear.

Valvoline and Pennzoil offer high Viscosity motor oils that can provide excellent protection for your engine. However, there are some differences between these two brands that you should be aware of before making a purchase.

Engine oil Viscosity Index Kinematic Viscosity at 100 °C Kinematic Viscosity at 40°C Pour Point
Pennzoil Platinum 161 8.4 CST 46.5 cSt -48 °C
Valvoline Advanced 156 7.9 cSt 43.2 cSt -39 °C


Kinematic Viscosity refers to the measure of an oil’s internal resistance to flow when subjected to gravitational forces. It’s calculated by measuring the time required for a fluid to flow a given distance in a calibrated viscometer at a controlled temperature.

From the above Data table, it’s evident that Pennzoil oil has a higher kinematic viscosity than Valvoline at 100 °C and 40°C, respectively. This means that Pennzoil oils give better results at the given temperature range than Valvoline oils.

In addition, the viscosity index of Pennzoil is relatively higher than that of Valvoline. This means that the oil is rarely affected by disparities in temperature changes than its competitor.


In terms of how much you will spend on either oil depends on the type of oil your vehicle uses and the amount it requires.

For instance, the 1-liter engine oil will cost around $4-$10. If you prefer synthetic oils, then the cost can significantly increase compared to conventional oils.

You will spend $22.47 per 5 quarts of Valvoline Advanced SAE 5W-30 and $22.93 for 5 quarts of Pennzoil platinum 5W-30.

The conventional oils from the Valvoline and Pennzoil will cost you $18.98 and $35.41, respectively.

While there are no significant differences in cost, it’s clear that Pennzoil will save you some bucks, especially when using conventional oils for your car.

Engine Protection

For maximum engine protection, motor oil brands often add friction modifiers and antiwear agents to their engine oil.

The antiwear agents create a thin coat around the engine’s metallic parts, reducing friction between parts of the engine that rub against each other.

Engine Oil (5W-20) Phosphorus (ppm) Zinc (ppm) Molybdenum (ppm) Boron (ppm) Titanium (ppm)
Pennzoil Platinum 610 693 80 45 2
Valvoline Advanced 660 760 294 119 <1

From the table above, you can see that Valvoline oil has higher quantities of, Zinc, Phosphorus, and Molybdenum. These additives help prevent premature engine wear. Additionally, the higher Boron concentration helps improve the engine’s anti-wearing resistance.

In simple terms, Valvoline performs better when it comes to the protection of your car engine and should be your number one priority, especially if you’re looking for an oil that will protect your engine the best.

However, that doesn’t mean that Pennzoil oils are bad. You’ll be surprised to learn that the company uses a unique PurePlus technology to create synthetic motor oil that flows easily and cleanses your engine of harmful deposits. Valvoline’s motor oil is also synthetic, but it does not have the same ability to cleanse your engine.

Oil change Frequency

You will need to change Valvoline oil after 3000-4000 miles. On the other hand, the recommended oil change when using Pennzoil oil is after 5000-7000 miles allowing for longer interval changes than its competitor.

In terms of TBN, Pennzoil seems to perform better than its competitor. Total Base Number (TBN) measures a lubricant’s ability to neutralize acids and other contaminants that can cause corrosion. A higher TBN means better protection against corrosion.

Engine Oil (5W-20) TBN value
Pennzoil Platinum 8.4
Valvoline Advanced 8.1

From the table above, it’s evident that Pennzoil has a higher TBN value, meaning it gives better protection against corrosion than its competitor.

Effects on Catalytic Converter Comparison

Remember, I mentioned earlier that motor oils contain antiwear additives. Well, these antiwear additives have phosphorous and zinc which burn off in the engine, creating ash that can block the catalytic converter, affecting your cat converter’s performance.

Engine oil (5W-20) Phosphorus (ppm) Zinc (ppm)
Pennzoil Platinum 610 693
Valvoline Advanced 660 760


While Valvoline contains most of these antiwear additives, the effect can cause a blocking of a catalytic converter.

Sludge Build Up?

When engine oil mixes with contaminants and other dirt in the engine, it forms carbon. The carbon then reacts with pollutants and impurities in the oil to create a sludgy liquid that affects the engine’s smooth operation.

Engine oils have added dispersants and detergents to help minimize sludge accumulation.

Valvoline Advanced motor oil is equipped with a higher amount of calcium molecules and magnesium-based compounds to help reduce sludge build-up.

On the other hand, Pennzoil Platinum oil has less calcium but a higher number of magnesium compounds.

The two oils have almost the same amount of sodium compound detergents. However, due to the higher calcium concentration, Valvoline gets a higher advantage in terms of sludge accumulation reduction in the engine.


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