Since you got your first car, you’ve been told over and over how important routine oil changes are. Having clean, fresh oil ensures your engine continues to operate smoothly, preventing components from rubbing metal to metal, a cleanser, and to aid in cooling the engine. Yet, with so many different types of oil out there to accommodate different types of engines, it can get confusing. Many modern vehicles today require a Full Synthetic Oil, while some older models can still get by with conventional oil. Add to the mix an oil that lies between “Full-Syn” and conventional called Synthetic Blend. In this article we tackle some of the most frequently asked questions when it comes to oil, including “What is synthetic oil” and “Is synthetic oil better?”
What Is Synthetic vs. Conventional Oil?
Conventional oil is petroleum-based oil produced from refined crude oil found underground. While it costs less, it is more sensitive to temperature changes. It thins out when hot and thickens in colder temperatures. Conventional oils are also prone to creating engine sludge due to the thickening of oil, contaminants, and carbons.
Synthetic oil is made from crude oil as well but is also purified and broken down into tiny molecules that are designed to meet the demands of modern vehicle engines, possessing enhanced additives produced synthetically. Full synthetic oils resist heat and break down less in comparison to conventional oil. Additionally, synthetic oil contains less impurities which prevents the buildup of sludge and is unaffected by temperature changes. This aids the engine by consuming less oil.
How Often Do I Need to Change Synthetic Oil?
You may have heard an oil change should be performed every 3,000 miles or every 3 months. This is true for conventional oil. However, synthetic oils should be changed every 5,000 miles not to exceed 6,000 miles. Keep in mind though, severe climate conditions may accelerate intervals.
What Are the Advantages of Synthetic Oil?
- More Durable – Synthetic oils are engineered in labs and are designed with properties meant to last longer and enhance its strength. This engineering gives it the ability to cycle throughout the engine faster and more often compared to conventional oil, increasing protection of the engine and its components.
- Cleans and Cools – At higher temperatures, most motor oils begin to breakdown. Synthetic oil, however, is impervious to such conditions and burns cleaner. It is able to resist sludgy deposits, common with conventional oil.
- Superior Lubrication – The molecules of synthetic oil are tiny, perfectly round, and able to flow easily. Conventional oil molecules are also round, yet, they are larger and aren’t able to move as smoothly. Since synthetic oils flow better, they are more efficient in lubricating engine components.
- Long-lasting – Synthetic oil provides better protection for your engine, reducing visits to the repair shop. In one year with conventional oil, you could visit the shop up to ten times. Synthetic oil changes reduce those visits by about half.
- Greater Protection and Improves Vehicle Lifespan – With improved viscosity, its able to flow more efficiently regardless of the ambient temperature. Its higher performance structure is ideal for luxury vehicles and many energy efficient cars.
Can I Switch from Conventional to Synthetic?
Yes, you can safely switch from conventional oil to synthetic oil. Keep in mind, however, since synthetic oils are lab-created and fortified with additives to protect your engine, they cost more than conventional oils. In short, with modern vehicles, mineral oils are acceptable, blended oils are better, and synthetic oils are the absolute best.
Full Synthetic or Blend? Which is Best for My Car?
Synthetic blend oil is a combination of both conventional and synthetic oil, enhancing its qualities by offering better performance, lubrication, and protection for the engine. Like full synthetic oil, synthetic blend lasts longer and resists heat and breaking down in comparison to conventional oil. Synthetic blend oils cost more than conventional oils, however, it is less expensive than full synthetic oil. To determine which oil is best for your vehicle, refer to your owner’s manual. If conventional oil is acceptable, knowing the benefits of synthetic blend and full synthetic oils, and if it fits your budget, you can easily make the switch. Why not invest in the life of your engine by upgrading your oil?