The biggest difference between synthetic oil and conventional oil is that synthetic oil is made of more refined chemicals to help enhance the engine's performance and eliminate sludge buildup. However, if your engine is not compatible with synthetic oil, you can cause significant damages when switching to synthetic oil
Motor oil serves as the lifeblood of your vehicle’s engine. Without enough oil and proper characteristics, you can deal with significant issues that could cost you a lot of money, including installing a new engine.
The market is filled with many types of engine oil that you might encounter. For example, you probably heard about synthetic oil, conventional oil, synthetic blend oil, and high mileage oil. As a result, many people reach out to our team to look for the main differences between synthetic oil and conventional oil.
This article provides you with all FAQs about synthetic oil vs. conventional oil. In addition, it highlights the different components making up the two oils, the main benefits you'll achieve from switching to synthetic oil, and more details that could help you learn one or two things that could save your engine and enhance its lifetime.
What are the main differences between synthetic oil vs. Conventional oil?
To better understand the difference between synthetic and conventional oil, it's important to go back to the base material making up each of them and understand how these materials can impact the oil change frequencies.
Let's take a closer look at these two elements below:
- Base material
Conventional oil is typically made of crude oil. On the other hand, synthetic oil is a specific type of oil manufactured where many manufacturers put together a lot of useful chemicals with the minimum number of contaminants to help generate the specific oil that provides engine performance enhancements and eliminates any sludge buildup.
Since conventional oil is made of less refined oils, it tends to have common oil problems like chemical stability issues, oxidation problems, and troubles with fast breakdowns.
On the other hand, since synthetic oil and especially the full synthetic oil is made of much refined and cleaned motor oil, you achieve better characteristics, including those related to eliminating sludge deposits, protecting your engine from where, and not breaking down fast.
- Oil change frequencies
Once you have a good understanding of this material making up conventional and synthetic oil, you can't immediately expect that to stick with conventional oil; you will need to change it more frequently than synthetic oil.
If you're using conventional oil, you must change it once every 5000 to 7500 miles. On the other hand, if you're using full synthetic oil, you might not need oil change up to 10,000 miles, if not 15,000 miles.
Unsurprisingly, synthetic oil is much more expensive than conventional oil, considering all the benefits your vehicle's engine will achieve. Typically, conventional oil change costs you about $38, while synthetic oil change should be somewhere close to $70, almost double the price.
If you think about costs long term, you'll figure out that synthetic oil is not more expensive than conventional oil because when using conventional oil, we have to change it more frequently than synthetic oil. For example, you might need to change your conventional oil three or four times a year. However, you will only need to change synthetic oil once a year, depending on your driving.
What are the main benefits of synthetic oil vs. Conventional oil?
Since synthetic oil is made of completely different materials than conventional oil, many people are interested in learning about the main benefits that you'll achieve from switching to synthetic oil vs. conventional oil.
Let's see it also look at what automotive experts discovered in terms of the benefits you'll get from switching to synthetic oil:
- Reducing engine wear
One of the first and most important benefits of switching to synthetic oil is reducing any engine wear. This is because your engine's internal moving components get in touch with each other continuously. As a result, there is a very high chance that these parts will break down if they don't receive the proper level of lubrication.
When using synthetic oil, you achieve better protection from engine wear for a longer time. On the other hand, conventional oil breaks down faster, which means that it cannot retain wear protection for a long time.
In some types of synthetic oil from certain brands, you can achieve wear protection up to 250,000 miles!
- Eliminate sludge buildups
It's not rare for your engine to build sludge or carbon when operating for a long time without changing the oil, especially when using conventional oil. However, by switching to synthetic oil, you achieve new characteristics that have to deal with eliminating sludge buildup. Thus, not only will your engine achieve better lubrication, but also you don't have to worry about significantly high costs for cleaning sludge from your engine down the road.
- Oil flows better
One of the most important characteristics of any motor oil is how fast it flows under different temperatures, which refers to this costly. Conventional oil might not flow as it should when the temperature is extremely high or cold. Therefore, if you're driving and very cold winters, you might need to switch to synthetic oil to ensure that oil flows freely even if the temperature drops below zero.
When oil cannot flow properly, it won't reach the inaccessible components within your engine and lubricate it. As a result, you might hear about more engine languages during the winter than during the summer.
- Operate better under high temperatures
Keep in mind that summer is also not a big friend to your motor oil. Therefore, there is a chance that some types of conventional oils might evaporate or deal with other breakdowns during very high temperatures. On the other hand, certain synthetic oils have special characteristics to help adjust to different temperatures, even during very high summer temperatures.
- Protect turbocharged components
If you're driving a modern car, you might notice that automakers are designed the cards with much smaller engines to enhance fuel efficiency while adding certain turbocharged elements to boost performance.
Although these advancements and engine design help improve many characteristics in your engine, it comes with its own cost. For example, if you don't have the best type of motor oil in your turbocharged engine, you might deal with major failures that could cost you thousands of dollars down the road.
You won't achieve the best performance at peak turbocharged conditions by using conventional or even synthetic blend oil for turbocharged engines. Therefore, you should switch to synthetic oil if you know that your vehicle operates under extreme conditions.
Did you know that some turbocharged engines operate under 400 Fahrenheit? Furthermore, some shafts within your turbocharged engine might spend up to 200,000 revolutions per minute!
Is synthetic oil bad for my car?
Although synthetic oil will provide tons of benefits to improve your engine performance and eliminate many negative consequences of old oils, things are to keep in mind before switching completely to synthetic oil.
Synthetic oil is manufactured, and it has a lot of strong chemicals to eliminate any sludge buildup and clean the engine's pathways. Although this is a great benefit, it's not the best benefit for older engines. If you're driving a vehicle with an old engine, it might have weak seals that might get damaged by strong synthetic oil chemicals.
Therefore, before making a final decision and switching to this great oil, you must review your vehicle owner’s manual and consult your mechanic not to harm the engine and cost you a lot of money to install a new engine. In addition, older vehicles may not have a lot of parts replacement availability which can be a second challenge to the cost of the engine.
Can I switch back to conventional oil?
If you were excited about using synthetic oil and your engine is compatible with it, but you decided to go back to conventional oil, that's never a problem. Automotive experts confirm that switching between different types of oils and different types of oil brands is not a problem and should not cause any damages.
However, if your vehicle is designed to accept only synthetic oil, you cannot go down a level and use conventional oil to save money because this can do the other way around and cost you thousands of dollars if it damages your engine.
Again, whenever you want to switch about any multiple oils, you must follow their vehicle's owner’s manual clearly or consult a professional mechanic who has a better experience and knows your vehicle well.
What is the difference between full synthetic oil and synthetic blend?
If you search through the world of motor oils, you might have come across the two terms full synthetic oil and synthetic blend oil. However, these terms do not refer to the same thing, and they have some similar characteristics but are not fully the same.
Think about the full synthetic oil as the top and highest quality motor oil that you might encounter in the world of motor oils. However, since synthetic oil is much more expensive than conventional oil, it might not be affordable to many drivers. That's why automotive experts and some companies decided to come up with this synthetic blend oil, which combines both synthetic and conventional oil.
You achieve very good characteristics close enough to synthetic oil with synthetic blend oil without worrying about very high costs. However, if your vehicle's owner’s manual specifically stated that you have to use full synthetic oil, you cannot simply go to synthetic blend oil because it does not have the full characteristics that your engine is designed for.
As a rule of thumb, do not try to save on motor oil if your engine is not designed for the cheaper one. Saving a couple of dollars on conventional oil can't cost you thousands of dollars on measure engine breakdowns.
What are the best synthetic oil brands?
If you're interested in switching to synthetic oil, we advise that you go through specific articles highlighting the main benefits and pros and cons of each type of oil before making a final decision. For example, latimes.com did a great job in listing the best synthetic oils worth considering in 2021:
- Mobil 1 High Mileage Full Synthetic Oil
- Pennzoil Platinum Full Synthetic Motor Oil
- AMSOIL Severe Gear Synthetic Oil
- Castrol 06412 Power RS Synthetic Oil
- Amazonbasics Full Synthetic Motor Oil
You've probably heard a lot about questions and discussions regarding synthetic oil vs. conventional oil. This is a hot topic, and many people reach out to us wondering if they should switch to synthetic oil from conventional oil.
As we highlighted in this article, synthetic oil is a great option, and it's much better than conventional oil if your vehicle is compatible with it. In addition, it provides many benefits, including eliminating sludge build-offs, enhancing the vehicle's performance, allowing your engine to perform under extreme conditions, etc.
Although synthetic oil brings many benefits to your engine, if your engine has major mechanical problems that require thousands of dollars on repair costs already, it might not be worth switching to synthetic oil. Instead, you might want to evaluate whether it's worth selling your vehicle now and using its value to buy a better car that doesn’t have any problem.
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