Understanding the main differences between synthetic versus conventional oil helps you determine whether it's worth switching to synthetic oil or not. Typically, synthetic oil is if your oil lasts much longer and can withstand more extreme conditions. That's why synthetic oil doesn't have to change oil frequently, and you'll get better benefits to the engine than conventional oil.
Synthetic oil is a man-made oil that doesn't have many impurities as conventional oil. That's why many automotive experts recommend switching to synthetic oil if your vehicle needs it. However, not every car requires synthetic oil, which means that it can be a driver's choice to switch to synthetic oil.
There are some instances where synthetic oil might not be the best for your car, which means that you must be very careful about understanding the main difference between synthetic versus conventional oil and confirming which one is the right for your car that provides you with the best results without causing any issues.
This article serves as the ultimate guide for synthetic versus conventional oil. It highlights the mean differences and explains to you whether you can switch to synthetic oil. It also states the main disadvantages of synthetic oil that you should be aware of to prevent unnecessary complications.
Synthetic versus conventional oil: is synthetic oil better than conventional?
Let's take a closer look at the main categories you need to consider when analyzing synthetic versus conventional oil characteristics:
1- How it's made?
Synthetic oil is made of man-made oil with certain chemicals to help extend the lifetime of your engine and prevent carbon buildup. On the other hand, conventional oil is made of petroleum-based products that might not have the best characteristics to save their engine and prevents premature damages.
2- How it flow?
Synthetic oil is designed of the specific material that makes it have a much higher viscosity, referring to how fast oil flows. That's why most automotive experts recommend using synthetic oil for modern engines that require fast oil flow to reach inaccessible areas around the engine and prevent its damages by providing the required lubrication instantly.
On the other hand, conventional oil does not flow as needed when extremely high temperature and doesn't have the best viscosity. Therefore, many drivers who use conventional oil will deal with engine issues and drop in performance when the temperature is extremely hot outside and very cold.
3- How fast does it break?
Since synthetic oil is made of better material, this oil takes much longer to break down than conventional oil. This is because it has some characteristics making it oil-breaking resistant.
4- How often should you change it?
You won't necessarily need to change the oil if your vehicle uses synthetic oil regularly with fewer breakdown frequencies. For example, depending on the synthetic oil Brent, you might not need to change the oil up to 7500 miles or probably 15,000 miles in some instances. On the other hand, if you're relying on conventional oil, you might need to change the oil at least once every 5000 miles, if not 3000 miles, in some scenarios.
5- How well does it withstand extreme temperatures?
As you might already know, oil flows around the engine at when extremely high individual engine rate. Therefore, understanding how well the oil withstands high temperatures is essential when choosing between synthetic versus conventional oil.
According to recent statistics, synthetic oil has some additives that make it suitable for extreme temperatures without any big change in the main characteristics you will need to lubricate your engine.
6- How much does it cost?
According to newsroom.aaa.com, if you would like to perform an oil change using conventional oil, you shouldn't pay more than $38. On the other hand, a synthetic oil change should cost you about $70.
To look at oil by quart size, 5 quarts of conventional oil costs about $28, and to purchase the same amount from synthetic oil, expect to pay about $45.
While the difference between the two oils doesn't sound huge, since oil change is regular maintenance, it makes a difference to look as close as a $1 difference.
7- How well does it operate on short trips?
Did you know that short trips can't kill your engine if you perform them regularly? However, when you take your car for a very short trip, the internal components, including the engine oil, don't warm up properly and might not provide the necessary lubrication, causing engine issues.
However, when choosing the right type of oil, including synthetic oil, you shouldn't deal with troubles in shorter trips. On the other hand, going with conventional oil might lead to premature engine damage is in no time, especially if you drive your car for shorter trips.
8- Is it better to haul heavy loads?
When you haul heavy loads on your vehicle, you introduce another layer of stress on the engine. That's why you will need more lubrication to stay cooled and prevent overheating. If you're only using conventional oil, this oil might not be good enough to prevent overheating, and that's why switching to synthetic oil at that time is very helpful.
9- Is it recommended for older engines?
The most important drawback about synthetic oil is that it might not be the best choice for older engines. This is because synthetic oil has specific additives that help clean up any carbon buildup and other sludge inside the engine. Unfortunately, these additives can be harmful to the weak seals around the old engines, which means that it's never recommended to switch to synthetic oil without consulting your mechanic or reviewing your vehicle's owner’s manual to prevent dealing with negative complications.
Who are the biggest automakers switching to synthetic oil?
With the great benefits of synthetic oil, many newer automakers are switching towards using synthetic oil in their models than before. Consumer Reports indicated that about 70% of newer vehicles are switching to synthetic oil than others.
Larger manufacturers do not specifically ask for synthetic oil, but they specify a specific viscosity level for the oil to flow fast. These viscosity levels do not exist in conventional oil, typically part of these synthetic oil characteristics.
For example, Honda Civic decided to switch to synthetic oil because of its great viscosity and how fast oil flows to lubricate the engine, as indicated by one of their spoken women.
The trend towards switching the synthetic oil isn't only by the manufacturers themselves but also by drivers. In other words, according to statistics highlighted in the Consumer Reports recent article, more than half of the car owners are now switching to synthetic oil than before from a variety of car brands.
Is it safe to switch from conventional to synthetic?
Of course! According to experts, there is no problem in switching between conventional and synthetic oil. Some experts even came up with new oil that combines both conventional and synthetic and what's referred to as synthetic blend oil.
Keep in mind that while you can't switch from conventional to synthetic, you cannot immediately do the opposite shared, in other words, if you used to use synthetic oil. This is because your car requires it as indicated in the vehicle's owner’s manual; you can't go to a lower quality oil and use conventional oil.
Therefore, before switching your motor oil, you must consult your mechanic and get a clear idea about your next oil type to prevent dealing with unpleasant complications that might cost you the entire engine.
What are the disadvantages of synthetic oil?
As we indicated earlier, there are plenty of great benefits of synthetic oil. Still, there are some drawbacks that you need to be aware of which might not be an issue to many drivers considering the long list of benefits you're achieving:
Since synthetic oil comes with tons of adventures, it is not surprising to know that synthetic oil is much more expensive than conventional oil. However, if you think about it in the long run, you'll find that synthetic oil is cheaper than conventional oil. How?
When selecting synthetic oil, you don't have to change oil frequently as going with conventional oil. Therefore, if you calculate the total costs across an entire year, you'll realize that you're not paying much.
Also, since synthetic oil comes with many additives to extend the lifetime of your engine and prevent negative consequences, you will most likely eliminate frequent breakdowns that might cost you some money.
As we highlighted earlier, synthetic oil comes with certain chemicals that can be strong and not compatible with your old engine. For example, these chemicals can damage minor small seals around the engine compartment and cause significant issues that could cost you the entire engine.
Therefore, before switching to synthetic oil and getting excited about the main benefits, it is critical to consult the mechanic and confirm that your car is OK with synthetic oil.
How often should I change my synthetic oil?
One of the best benefits of synthetic oil is that you don't have to change it regularly because it breaks down easily. Typically, you might need to change the synthetic oil once every 7500 miles, but some good synthetic oils don't require replacement until reaching the 15,000 miles.
At what mileage should you switch to synthetic oil?
There is no specific mileage threshold that you need to wait for until you switch to synthetic oil. If your cars are not old, you can't switch to synthetic oil at any time. However, you might be referring to a different type of oil designated for high mileage.
There's a third type of engine oil in the market other than these synthetic and conventional oils. It's the high mileage oil made specifically to take care of vehicles with more than 75,000 miles.
Therefore, consult your mechanic and confirm whether you can switch to this type of oil at this point or not. By switching to high mileage oil when your car has a lot of mileage, you can help extend the engine's lifetime and take care of any minor leaks that you might not be paying attention to.
Choosing the right engine oil is extremely important to help prevent major damages and extend the engine's lifetime. You might already know that the most common types of engine oil are conventional and synthetic oil.
Understanding the main differences between synthetic versus conventional oil is essential before making a motor oil switch. Most automotive experts recommend switching to synthetic oil if you're looking for longer oil change frequencies and engine life. However, it's critical never to switch synthetic oil unless you consult with your mechanic to confirm that your vehicle's engine is compatible with this type of oil.
If your vehicle has major mechanical problems, switching the oil might not be the solution because, at some point in time, the engine might completely fail and requires replacement. If that's the case, you might want to consider selling your vehicle and using its value to purchase a better car that doesn't have any problem and is worth the investment in synthetic oil.
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