When it comes to taking care of your car’s engine, one important task is getting regular oil changes. But did you know that there are different types of motor oils you can use? The two main types are synthetic oil and conventional oil. Synthetic oil is made in a lab and designed to provide better protection for your engine, while conventional oil is made from crude oil and is more affordable. In this article, we’ll explain the differences between synthetic and conventional oil, and help you decide which type might be best for your car. What happens when you don’t change your Oil?
What is synthetic oil?
Synthetic oil is a type of motor oil that is engineered and chemically formulated in a laboratory. It is designed to provide better performance and protection for your car’s engine than conventional oil. Synthetic oil is made from a base oil, which is then mixed with a variety of chemical additives to improve its lubrication properties, resistance to high temperatures and oxidation, and to help keep the engine clean. Because it is made in a lab, synthetic oil can be customized to meet the specific needs of different types of engines and driving conditions. Synthetic oil is typically more expensive than conventional oil, but it can offer improved performance and longer intervals between oil changes.
What is conventional oil?
Conventional oil is a type of motor oil that is made from crude oil, which is a naturally occurring resource found underground. It is the most commonly used type of motor oil and is usually less expensive than synthetic oil. Conventional oil is also known as mineral oil because it is made from the crude oil mineral. It works by providing a layer of lubrication between the engine’s moving parts to reduce friction and prevent wear and tear. Although it is less expensive than synthetic oil, it usually requires more frequent oil changes to keep the engine running smoothly.
Benefits of synthetic oil
Synthetic oil has several benefits that can help keep your car’s engine running smoothly:
Synthetic oil is specially formulated to provide better lubrication, which can help reduce friction and heat in your engine. This can lead to improved performance, including better acceleration, increased power, and better fuel economy.
Because synthetic oil is more resistant to breakdown than conventional oil, it can last longer between oil changes. This means you can go longer periods of time between oil changes, which can save you time and money in the long run.
Synthetic oil contains special additives that help protect your engine from wear and tear, and keep it running cleaner. This can help extend the life of your engine and reduce the risk of costly repairs down the road.
Improved cold weather performance
Synthetic oil flows more easily at low temperatures than conventional oil, which means your engine can start more easily and run more smoothly in cold weather.
Synthetic oil can be customized to meet the specific needs of your engine and driving conditions. This means you can choose a synthetic oil that is designed to perform well in extreme temperatures, heavy loads, or other challenging driving conditions.
Drawbacks of synthetic oil
While synthetic oil has many benefits, there are also some potential drawbacks to consider:
Synthetic oil is typically more expensive than conventional oil. This can make it a less appealing option for drivers who are on a tight budget or who change their oil frequently.
Not always necessary
Synthetic oil is not always necessary for every vehicle. If your car’s engine is designed to run on conventional oil, switching to synthetic oil may not provide any additional benefits.
Not always compatible
Synthetic oil may not be compatible with certain types of engines or with older vehicles. It’s important to check your owner’s manual or consult with a mechanic before switching to synthetic oil.
Risk of leaks
Because synthetic oil is more slippery than conventional oil, it may be more likely to leak out of older or damaged engine seals.
The production of synthetic oil requires more energy and resources than conventional oil. This can have a greater impact on the environment, although many synthetic oils are now made from renewable resources.
Benefits of conventional oil
Conventional oil also has some benefits that make it a good choice for many drivers:
Conventional oil is usually less expensive than synthetic oil, which makes it a more affordable choice for drivers who change their oil frequently.
Conventional oil is available at most auto parts stores and service centers, which makes it easy to find and purchase.
Conventional oil has been around for a long time and has a proven track record of providing good engine protection.
Easy to find
Most cars are designed to run on conventional oil, so it is easy to find and use.
Conventional oil is still a good lubricant and provides good protection against engine wear and tear, especially when changed on a regular basis.
Drawbacks of conventional oil
Although conventional oil has some benefits, there are also some potential drawbacks to consider:
Conventional oil breaks down faster than synthetic oil and needs to be changed more frequently to keep the engine running smoothly. This means more trips to the mechanic and more money spent on oil changes.
Poor performance in extreme temperatures
Conventional oil can thicken in cold weather and become too thin in hot weather, which can reduce engine performance and cause damage over time.
May not work well for high-performance engines
High-performance engines may require a specialized oil that provides better protection under extreme conditions.
Not as environmentally friendly
Conventional oil is made from non-renewable resources and requires more energy to produce, which can have a greater impact on the environment.
Conventional oil is not as customizable as synthetic oil and may not provide the same level of protection for certain types of driving conditions or engine types.
Synthetic vs. conventional: Cost comparison
One of the main differences between synthetic and conventional oil is the cost.
Synthetic oil is generally more expensive than conventional oil. For example, a five-quart jug of synthetic oil may cost twice as much as a jug of conventional oil.
However, synthetic oil lasts longer and does not need to be changed as frequently as conventional oil. So while synthetic oil may cost more upfront, it could save money in the long run by reducing the number of oil changes needed. It’s important to consider your driving habits and the type of vehicle you have when deciding between synthetic and conventional oil. If you drive frequently or have an older vehicle that needs oil changes more often, synthetic oil may be a good investment.
If you don’t drive as much or have a newer vehicle that requires less frequent oil changes, conventional oil may be the more cost-effective choice.
Synthetic vs. conventional: Performance comparison
Another key difference between synthetic and conventional oil is their performance. Synthetic oil is engineered to provide better engine protection and performance than conventional oil.
It is designed to flow more easily in cold temperatures and resist breaking down at high temperatures. This means that synthetic oil can provide better lubrication and engine protection, which can help extend the life of your engine.
In contrast, conventional oil may not perform as well in extreme temperatures and may break down faster, which could result in reduced engine performance and more frequent oil changes.
However, it’s important to note that the performance of both types of oil can vary depending on the specific brand and formulation.
Which is right for your vehicle?
Deciding which type of oil is right for your vehicle can depend on several factors, including your vehicle type, driving habits, and budget.
If you have an older vehicle or drive frequently in extreme temperatures, synthetic oil may be the better choice for engine protection and longevity, even though it’s more expensive upfront.
However, if you have a newer vehicle or don’t drive as frequently, conventional oil may be sufficient and the more cost-effective option.
It’s also important to follow the oil recommendations outlined in your vehicle’s owner manual. This will ensure that you are using the appropriate type and viscosity of oil for your specific vehicle.
It’s also a good idea to consult with a trusted mechanic or oil expert if you are unsure about which type of oil to use for your vehicle.
Synthetic blends: A compromise between synthetic and conventional
In addition to synthetic and conventional oil, there is also a third option known as synthetic blend oil. As the name suggests, synthetic blend oil is a combination of synthetic and conventional oil.
This type of oil offers a compromise between the benefits of synthetic and conventional oil. It provides better engine protection than conventional oil, but at a lower cost than synthetic oil. Synthetic blend oil may also offer improved fuel efficiency and better performance than conventional oil alone.
Like synthetic and conventional oil, the type of synthetic blend oil you choose should be based on your vehicle’s specific needs and your driving habits. It’s important to check your vehicle’s owner manual or consult with a mechanic to determine whether synthetic blend oil is the right choice for your vehicle.
In conclusion, choosing between synthetic and conventional oil for your vehicle requires careful consideration of the benefits and drawbacks of each type. Synthetic oil offers superior performance, better engine protection, and increased fuel economy, but it comes at a higher cost. Conventional oil is more affordable, widely available, and suitable for most vehicles, but it may not provide the same level of engine protection and performance as synthetic oil.
Ultimately, the right choice of oil for your vehicle depends on your driving habits, the type of vehicle you own, and your personal preferences. It’s important to consult with a mechanic or refer to your vehicle’s owner manual to determine which type of oil is best for your vehicle. Regardless of which type of oil you choose, it’s important to follow the recommended oil change intervals to keep your vehicle running smoothly and avoid potential damage.
Q: Can I switch from conventional oil to synthetic oil?
A: Yes, you can switch from conventional oil to synthetic oil. However, it’s important to ensure that the synthetic oil you choose is compatible with your vehicle’s engine and that you follow the recommended oil change intervals.
Q: Is synthetic oil better than conventional oil?
A: Synthetic oil offers better performance, engine protection, and fuel economy compared to conventional oil. However, it comes at a higher cost. The right choice of oil for your vehicle depends on your driving habits, the type of vehicle you own, and your personal preferences.
Q: How often should I change my oil with synthetic oil?
A: The recommended oil change intervals for synthetic oil may vary depending on the specific brand and formulation. It’s important to refer to your vehicle’s owner manual or consult with a mechanic to determine the recommended oil change intervals for your vehicle.
Q: Is synthetic blend oil a good compromise between synthetic and conventional oil?
A: Yes, synthetic blend oil offers a compromise between synthetic and conventional oil. It offers better performance and engine protection compared to conventional oil, while still being more affordable than full synthetic oil.
Q: Can synthetic oil cause leaks in older engines?
A: There is a common misconception that synthetic oil can cause leaks in older engines. However, this is not necessarily true. Synthetic oil is formulated to be more consistent and less volatile than conventional oil, which can actually help reduce the risk of leaks in older engines.