High zinc motor oil is a type of engine oil that contains zinc additives to reduce friction. Every old car owner uses zinc-based oil to feed their old engine to decrease the engine pressure produced by metal friction and heat.
But finding the top quality high zinc engine oils is a daunting task as modern cars don’t need this oil type anymore. And you can’t get the protection your old engine needs from modern synthetic oil.
Luckily, we discovered the top high-zinc motor oil brands that come with zinc and phosphorus additives.
So, you don’t need to worry about the wear & sludge. So, read through the lines to pick the ideal oil for your classic cars.
Table of Contents
Why Should You Use High Zinc Motor Oils?
Before diving deep into the list of motor oil brands with a lot of zinc content, you should have a clear idea of why you need to be using high-zinc motor oils.
First of all, keep in mind that modern cars don’t need a high zinc engine oil. The engines and the camshafts in these cars are built differently and they don’t need such an oil to reduce friction. So, you don’t have to worry about using an oil rich in zinc in them.
However, it’s a completely different story when it comes to the older engines. You can benefit a lot from using a high-zinc motor oil as those cars do require a good deal of zinc content. Let’s take a quick look at the benefits of using a high zinc motor oil in an older vehicle.
1. Protects The Engine From Wearing Out
The main reason why you should use zinc is to protect your engine from being damaged. The presence of ZDDP as an additive in these oils creates a protective layer in the engine. So, the metal parts don’t smash against each other and the engine stays safe.
2. Works Well In Extreme Conditions
Regular engine oil won’t do a great job when there are frequent changes in the temperature, conditions of the road, and high-speed driving.
But oil with a high amount of zinc additives provides good resistance against heat and oxidation, which results in smooth performance.
3. No Cold Start Failure
Using the wrong engine oil can lead to issues with starting the car in extreme weather conditions, especially when it’s cold.
However high zinc motor oils perform well even in this low-temperature situation. You’re not likely to face any trouble when starting the car with this type of engine oil.
4. Prevents Engine From Being Corroded
Another way in which a zinc-rich oil protects an engine is by reducing oxidation. Normally, the elements in the engine oil react with each other and start corroding the engine components. But ZDDP prevents that from happening and safeguards the engine from being corroded.
5. Better Protection At High Speeds
When you drive the car at high speeds, the camshaft of the engine rotates and presses its lobe to open the engine valves. Regular motor oil can get squeezed through the lobes due to the pressure build-up.
The lack of oil can lead to parts rubbing on each other and damaging your vehicle. But a high-zinc motor oil has anti-wear properties that’ll keep the engine protected even in this condition.
10 Best High Zinc Motor Oil Brands
Consider the following motor oil brands that offer high-zinc motor oil for your classic cars.
Valvoline is one of the leading racing oil brands. It started its journey in 1866, and since then, it has become one of the leading marketers and suppliers of premium branded lubricants.
It ranks as the No.3 passenger car motor oil brand in the DIY market by volume.
It provides motor oil, grease & gear oil, automatic transmission oil, and heavy-duty oil for every type of vehicle. Indeed, thousands of car owners rely on Valvoline to lubricate their engines.
When it comes to high zinc motor oil for your racing cars, you can hardly find an oil brand that can beat Valvoline. The high zinc formula of Valvoline oil provides superior protection for high-performance engines.
Due to the high zinc and phosphorus formula, wear & sludge can’t bring any damage to your engine.
In other words, Valvoline Oils will keep the metal parts of your engine well-lubricated under heavy conditions for why Valvoline VR1 racing motor oil is extremely popular to racing car users among all racing motor oils.
Every Valvoline 10W-30 Oil with Zinc or 20W-50 Motor Oil contains 1350-1400 ppm zinc and 1250-1300 ppm phosphorus.
So, you can pour the oil into your high-performance cars, racing muscle cars, and flat tappet engines. Here is the most popular Valvoline motor oil with Zinc you can go for:
- Valvoline VR1 Racing SAE 10W-30 High Zinc Motor Oil
- Valvoline VR1 Racing SAE 20W-50 High Zinc Motor Oil
If you want to know more about the composition of the Zinc and other elements in the Valvoline VR1 racing oil, I have a separate guide on it. You should check it out to get a better understanding of how this oil works and whether it’ll be the right choice for you.
Keep That Engine Alive! We hope you are familiar with this sentence if you have a vehicle. Yes, we talk about Lucas.
Forrest and Charlotte enter into the lubricant and oil additive world with this vibe: Produce the best line of lubricants and additives.
This oil brand produces a premium line of oils, greases, and additives that makes it stand out from the crowd.
Lucas’s high-performance motor oil with high zinc is the most powerful in its oil lineup. The oil is specially formulated and fortified with a unique additive package containing high levels of zinc.
In other words, Lucas oil provides a tougher and thicker oil film that sticks with moving parts of your engine for a long time. As a result, wear & sludge can’t build their home in the engine compartment, which prolongs the engine life even under severe conditions.
Apart from these, Lucas’s high zinc oils also have good cold properties and stand up to high operating temperatures. It means Lucas oils deliver unmatched engine protection both in extreme and cold temperatures.
You can get the Locas high zinc oil for classic cars, high-performance, muscle, and racing vehicles. Here is the high zinc oil list that comes from Lucas.
- Lucas SAE 10W-40 Hot Rod Motor Oil
- Lucas Oil SAE 30 High Zinc Engine Break-In Oils
03. Royal Purple
Royal Purple is another oil brand that also provides high-quality motor oil for passenger cars to high-performance cars. You can also find gear oils, powerful additives, and synthetic lubricants from Royal Purple.
Like other brands, Royal Purple also provides high zinc oil for your classic engine and camshaft. It delivers unsurpassed engine protection against wear & sludge.
The break-in engine oil combines highly refined mineral oil with advanced additives that contain high levels of zinc and phosphorus. As a result, the oil can optimally optimize wear protection during the sensitive engine break-in phase.
Unlike other high zinc oils, the motor oil from Royal Purple is a fully formulated 10W-30 conventional oil. So, you don’t need to add any chemical additives.
The Royal Purple High-Performance Sreet oil has close to 1800 PPM Zinc and 1350 PPM Phosphorus in it. The API-certified oil has nearly 800 PPM ZDDP in it.
The Extreme Performance Racing oil made by Royal Purple also has a high amount of ZZDP, which is about 1300 PPM Phosphorus and 1400 PPM Zinc. So, there are many variants of the Royal Purple that are rich in ZDDP content.
I have a guide on the amount of Zinc in different Royal Purple oils where I talk about the composition of these oils in detail. Feel free to take a look if you’re interested.
This high zinc oil from Royal Purple will be the best trait for high-performance engines, especially those that come with flat tappet camshafts. You can bring the following Royal Purple high zinc oil for your classic car.
- Royal Purple 11487 Engine Break-In Oil
04. Brad Penn
The original green oil! This sentence perfectly resembles the Brad Penn refinery oil. Brad Penn collects and purchases crude oil domestically from Pennsylvania, Ohio, New York, and West Virginia.
And guess what, the crude oil contains no asphaltic components that make the oil thermally stable. In other words, the oil doesn’t thin out or break down quickly at high temperatures.
That’s why racers, engine builders, and enthusiasts love Brad Penn’s oils. And green color oil named Penn Grade 1 High-Performance Oil from Brad Penn gained a huge buzz for its quality and performance.
Penn Grade 1 High-Performance Oil from Brad Penn uses a unique base oil as its formulation that gives exceptional film strength. Because of it, the oil clings to every moving part of the engine and lubricates them.
As a result, your engine will experience reduced wear & tear. Turns out, this oil has unique detergents and additives to ensure exceptional engine cleanliness.
Apart from the unique base oil cut, it contains zincs or ZDDP to deliver superior anti-wear protection for the flat tappet engine.
Here is the list of two widely-accepted zinc-based oils from Brad Penn you can trust for your racing car or flat tappet engine:
- Brad Penn Oil PK 20W-50 Partial Synthetic Racing Oil
- Brad Penn Penn Grade 1 SAE 30W Break-in Oil
Amsoil makes a big name in producing high-quality synthetic oil that meets the challenges your vehicle encounters.
Because of the extraordinary performance of this oil, it makes its position in the market. Every car owner loves to pour it into their car to let the engine run smoothly.
When it comes to lubricating the engine with a flat tappet, Amsoil will be your go-to motor oil. It contains zinc and phosphorus anti-wear additives.
Due to this, wear and sludge can’t bring any harm to your engine during the break-in period. This oil lubes every moving part optimally and protects cam lobes, lifters, and rockers from wear.
Therefore, Amsoil oil also maximizes engine performance. It reduces metal friction and decreases the stress on the engine to boost up horsepower. If you want to pick the high zinc oil from Amsoil, go for the following one.
- Amsoil Break-in Oil
06. Driven Racing Oil
Driven Racing Oil, as the name suggests, is completely formulated for lubricating racing car engines. But today, they developed their innovation in a way that extends their range from the racetrack to the street.
In simple words, this racing oil brand now also provides full synthetic oil for passenger cars.
Like other high zinc oil, the oil for classic engines has high ZDDP contents. Due to this, no wear will occur as this lubricant keeps every engine component well-lubricated.
Plus, its advanced synthetic base oil also lubes the metal parts, which reduces friction and extends oil change intervals.
Besides, its Military Spec storage protection ensures optimum engine protection during winter storage.
In other words, rust and corrosion will fail to make their way to damage your car engine. Check the list of best racing oil with zinc that come from Driven Racing Oil:
- Driven Racing Oil Hr-5 10w-40 High Zinc Conventional Oil
- Driven Racing Oil HR-5 Conventional Hot Rod Motor Oil
Castrol is a British lubricant brand that offers a wide range of oil, oil additives, greases, and similar products for lubricant applications.
When it comes to zinc-based oils for classic cars, Castrol will be a reliable name you can trust to ensure optimum engine performance.
The zinc additive Castrol oil is generally heat-activated. As a result, this oil provides excellent engine protection against wear & sludge. During engine operation, the ZDDP anti-wear film this oil contains sticks with every moving part.
In return, no wear & sludge will form as this oil reduces metal to metal contacts. In short, Castrol Oil which contains zinc delivers unmatched engine protection and boosts up engine performance. Here is a high zinc oil you can consider that comes from Castrol:
- Castrol GTX Classic 20W-50 Conventional Motor Oil
Keep in mind that the regular Castrol oil also has Zinc but it’s not enough for the older engines. You’ll need to go for the classic variant if you truly want an engine oil with a high zinc content.
The Castrol GTX classic 20W50 oil has close to 1500 PPM Zinc and 1300 PPM phosphorus based on my tests. By comparison, the regular oil only has about 900 PPM Zinc and 700 PPM Phosphorus.
So, without a doubt, the classic oil is the better option for you if you’re a hot rodder. I’ve talked about the quantity of ZDDP in Castrol oil in a lot more detail in a dedicated guide. Please check it out if you want to gain more information about it.
Maxima is also a reliable oil brand you can choose to get high zinc racing oil. Its racing oil is built for racers who challenge the limit of possibility.
This brand formulates its oil to tackle the higher engine operating temperature and protects moving parts by lubricating them.
Its high zinc/phosphorus formula is blended with refined & pure petroleum base stocks.
Because of this advanced oil formula, this oil delivers optimum engine protection against wear & extreme pressure. Therefore, it eliminates wear & tear issues with the cams, lifters, and rocker arms.
This racing oil brand also incorporates an advanced additive system to shield your engine against carbon & gum formation.
Plus, this additive system also delivers superior rust & corrosion protection and thus boosts up overall engine performance. Here are some examples of zinc-based oils from Maxima Racing Oil you can consider:
- Maxima (Castor 927) 2-Stroke Premix Racing Oil
- Maxima Racing Oils MAX39 Break-in Oil
Red Line entered the oil industry in 1979. Since then, they have started producing lubricants for the racing industry. Today, Red Line has more than 100 high-quality products like motor oil, gear oil, and oil additives in their line-up.
Unlike other oil brands, Redline uses full-synthetic ester formula. It delivers ultimate lubricity, high thermal stability, and ultimate wear protection.
This oil can easily travel to the top of your engine and lubricates every moving part. As a result, it reduces metal-to-metal friction.
When it comes to zinc-based oil, Red Line manufactures engine oil break-in additives. It contains a high level of zinc and phosphorus. These chemicals are beneficial for camshaft or flat tappet engines.
For example, you can use this oil additive from Red Line that contains 736 ppm of zinc and 610 ppm of phosphorus in a 15-quart oil can.
Check out the following oils from Red Line to ensure the superior engine performance of your racing cars.
- Red Line 50WT SAE 15W-50 Racing Motor Oil
- Red Line 30WT 10W-30 Race Oil
If you’re looking for a reliable brand of engine oil that’s known for producing high-quality engine oils, Triax is the perfect choice for you. The TRIAX Protection Plus 10W-40 High Mileage is a semi-synthetic oil with 25% more zinc in it compared to regular engine oils.
It protects the vehicle from extensive engine wear as it comes with performance boosters and wear-reduction technology. It also minimizes the chances of leaks, noise, oil burning, and deposits.
Along with Zinc, it also has a high amount of Molybdenum and Boron concentration for maximum engine life.
The Triaz Protection Plus offers great protection against bore polish, scuffing, and bearing wear.
It also has great viscosity stability against oxidative thickening and has great anti-corrosion properties. All these features make it an excellent and reliable engine oil. The following one is the top zinc-bearing engine oil from TRIAX:
- TRIAX Protection Plus 10W-40 High Mileage
However, all the above motor oil brands produce high motor oils. But, among all, Valvoline is the most popular it’s leading all racing oil brands.
Are Rotella Oils Rich In Zinc?
Unfortunately, Rotella oil wasn’t able to be in the top 10 of the list. But it still deserves an honorable mention. I’ll go over the Zinc content in the different oils in brief in this section.
First up, you have the Rotella T1 oil which is a straight grade oil. It has nearly 900-950 PPM of Zinc and Phosphorus in it. You can find it in 10W, 30W, 40W, and 50W viscosities.
Then, there’s T4 oil and it’s a synthetic blend oil. The ZDDP content is higher in it as it has nearly 1150 PPM of Zinc and 1050 PPM of phosphorus. 15W40 and 10W30 are the two viscosity variants in which you can find this oil.
The Rotella Z5 oil has nearly 1200 PPM of Zinc, and almost 1050 PPM of Phosphorus in it. It’s a synthetic oil and you can also find it in two different viscosity variants – 10W30 and 15W40.
Finally, there’s the Rotella T6 oil which is also a fully synthetic oil. The amount of ZDDP in the oil varies between the different viscosities. It’s available in OW40, 5W40, 15W40, and 10W30 viscosities. In general, they have close to 1200 PPM of Zinc and 1100 PPM of Phosphorus.
Other additives go into making a high-quality oil. I haven’t talked about their use in Rotella oils here but I have a dedicated guide where I go into it in detail. Check out my guide on Zinc content in Rotella oils to learn more about it.
Why Do Modern Engines Don’t Need Engine Oil?
There’s no denying that finding oils with a high Zinc content is difficult these days. It’s only happening due to the reduced demand for Zinc as the cars that have been produced recently no longer need that.
The main reason why ZDDP content kept getting reduced has something to do with carbon emissions. While Zinc was great at protecting engines with flat tappet camshafts, it wreaked havoc on the catalytic converter.
It soon became clear that ZDDP and catalytic converter don’t go hand in hand. At the same time, it was important to reduce the carbon footprint left by cars. To make matters worse for ZDDP, cars with roller camshafts were introduced and they didn’t need as much protection.
All these factors greatly reduced or even eliminated the need for Zinc in most cases. So, eventually, the hype around Zinc died down. While it was all the rage in the era of hot rodders, it’s no longer a thing now.
Should You Use Zinc Additive Or Zinc Motor Oil?
Sometimes, using additives instead of a high zinc oil can make sense. Because you can customize the amount of ZDDP you want. For example, if you want a lot of Zinc in your engine oil, you can add loads of it. If you don’t want a lot, you can only add a little bit.
However, the advantage of using a high zinc motor oil is that all the base oils and the additives already have the right balance. Oil manufacturers consider loads of things when they make the oils and you can rest assured that they deliver on their promises.
So, it really boils down to what you prefer in the end. For example, I know a lot of people who use zinc additives when they get a new car along with their engine break-in oil. Even many owners of cars with modern engines follow that practice.
If you’re looking for a high-quality Zinc additive, I think that the Rislone Hy-per Lube ZDDP Supplement will be the right choice for you. It’ll reduce engine wear and also make sure that your engine stays cool.
How Much Zinc Additive Should You Add To Oil?
The most crucial thing that you’d have to consider when determining how much additive to include is the quantity of Zinc in your current oil. There’s usually a recommendation depending on your engine on how much ZDDP is needed.
For example, if your car needs 1000-1200 PPM of Zinc, and your current engine oil has 800 PPM of zinc, you need to put in the additive such that it matches the requirements of your engine.
If you want a general guideline, I’d say that 1000 PPM is good for regular operating conditions and around 1500 PPM during the break-in period. But I’ve already covered this topic in detail in my adding ZDDP to the engine oil guide. Check it out to learn more about it.
Are Synthetic Oils Rich In Zinc?
Synthetic oils are a popular choice among many car owners as they have much fewer impurities. But if you own a car with an older engine, you’d need oil that’s rich in ZDDP. So, you may be looking for a synthetic oil that’s rich in Zinc so that you can get the best of both worlds.
However, it’s highly unlikely that you’ll find a synthetic oil that’s rich in Zinc. You already know about how ZDDP was slowly phased out from the oils. So, the modern formulations don’t require a lot of Zinc and that’s why it’s tough to find such oils these days.
That said, you still have a few options if you’re in the market for a synthetic oil. One option you have is the Valvoline VR1 Racing SAE 20W-50 Motor Oil. Another great choice could be Royal Purple SAE 5W-30 Synthetic Motor Oil.
Both these oils do have a good amount of Zinc. Otherwise, you can also insert a ZDDP additive into your current synthetic oil. There’s a lot more you should know when it comes to the use of ZDDP in synthetic oils. Check out my guide on ZDDP in synthetic oils to learn more about it.
Can Synthetic Oil Lead To Leaks In Older Cars?
It’s possible that you have heard from someone you know that you shouldn’t use synthetic oil in older cars as it would often cause leaks. To be honest, there’s good reason behind it. In fact, using synthetic oil in older cars did cause leaks during that time.
However, synthetic oils have been hugely developed during that time. This is because companies have had a number of years and access to much better technology when making the oil.
They also had a lot more data available to test out different formulations of oil in such cars. As a result, the quality of synthetic oils has improved significantly over the years. Therefore, they’re perfectly safe to use in older cars these days.
Is High Zinc Oil Always The Right Solution?
Now, you know all about which high zinc oil you should choose based on what you need. But that doesn’t mean that you should always choose a high-zinc oil. It depends on the type of car you own.
Remember that if zinc was so magical for every type of car, then no oil manufacturer would stop making it. It’s not used heavily these days because modern engines don’t wear out as soon as the flat tappet cams.
The negative effect of zinc in catalytic converters is also one of the reasons why it’s found in such less quantity nowadays. Just don’t think of zinc as a one-size-fits-all type of solution and you’ll be fine. It’s usually the ideal option for older classic and racing vehicles.
Does Zinc Help In Engine Break In?
The first 500-1000 miles are the most crucial for any car. Regardless of the type of camshaft your car has, it’s a good idea to use zinc for the break-in period.
Somewhere in the vicinity of 1400 – 1500 PPM of ZPPD will do the job for modern engines. In comparison, older engines will require more zinc. But the point is that you should add Zinc at this stage if you want to get the most out of your car.
What motor oil brand contains the highest amount of zinc than others?
Undoubtedly, Valvoline VR1 Racing Motor Oil contains the highest amount of zinc compared to other motor oil brands. The amount of zinc included in the Valvoline is 1400 ppm. So, you can go for it to protect your old engine from wear & sludge.
Is Shell Rotella high zinc?
Yes, Shell Rotella Engine Oil contains a high level of zinc, but not more than Valvoline. The increased amount of zinc will benefit your classic and high-performance cars.
What is the highest quality motor oil?
Here is the list of the highest quality motor oils:
1. Valvoline VR1 Racing SAE 20W-50 Motor Oil 5 QT
2. Lucas SAE 10W-40 Hot Rod Motor Oil
3. Mobil 1 Racing oils
4. Royal Purple 11487 Engine Break-In Oil
5. Amsoil Break-in Oil
6. Driven Racing Oil 03806 Hr-5 High Zinc Conventional 10W-40 Quart
7. Castrol GTX Classic 20W-50 Conventional Motor Oil
8. Lunati DRV02107 15W-50 Driven HR-1 High Zinc Hot Rod Oil
Should you add zinc to engine oil?
Whether you need to add zinc to your engine oil or not will depend on the age of your car engine and how you use it. Zinc additives will help to protect your engine from wear & sludge. So, it will be beneficial to add zinc.
Can you add too much zinc to oil?
No, you shouldn’t add too much zinc to oil. If you do so, it makes your engine oil acidic, damaging the cams, bearings, and bushing by wearing.
High zinc oil is an absolute need for your old and high-performance cars. Zinc additives will offer superior engine protection by preventing wear and sludge. As zinc-based oil prevents wear & sludge, it reduces the stress on your engine.
In other words, this type of oil will boost your old car engine performance. And the oil brands we mentioned above are reliable oil brands that contain a high level of zinc. So, you can choose any of them.