Synthetic Oils vs. Conventional Oils: Which One Is Really Better For Your Vehicle?
Updated 10 months 3 weeks ago
Synthetic oils, have been available for more than 15 years. They provide excellent lubrification and colling even for older vehicles. Unrightfully they may not be recommended for older cars because of the myths and rumors circulating them. One of the more prevalent myths is that a vehicle that’s been using a conventional oil cannot be switched to synthetic oil. Another misnomer is that synthetic oil should never be used in older vehicles with high mileage because they will develop leaks.
If you are planning on changing the engine oil yourself, check this step-by-step guide on How to change the engine oil on a car yourself.
Can I switch between synthetic and conventional oil?
Yes, you can switch to synthetic oil at any time. Or go back to conventional oil whenever you like. If you switch back to regular oil after using synthetic oil, keep these things in mind. In the early days of synthetic oil, when used synthetic oils resulted in hardened or brittle gaskets and seals, which caused engine leaks and a host of other problems. Thanks to time and technological advancements, these are no longer problems that you need to concern yourself with. If you have the option between conventional or synthetic oil after using conventional oil, always choose synthetic.
There is a host of reasons to consider the purchase of a synthetic oil such as a decrease in deposit accumulation, minute increase in fuel economy and longer time between oil changes. If your vehicle makes a lot of short trips – work to home, home to store, etc. – than conventional oil never gets the right temperature to burn the contamination and moisture off.
Also, if you live in an area of the world where the winters get brutally cold, or you experience extremely hot temperatures, synthetic oil is far better than conventional oil. If your vehicle is used for towing or carrying heavy materials from place to place, it’s best to go with a synthetic oil over the conventional kinds.
Synthetic oil will lubricate the engine better, ensuring it lasts for a longer period before you need to change it. However, should never go beyond your vehicle manufacturer’s recommended interval time frame.
Be mindful that not all synthetic oils are the same, and the highest-rated synthetic oils are Valvoline and Mobil 1. Synthetic motor oil is being used in newer vehicles because of the plethora of advantages it has compared to conventional motor oil. What kinds of advantages does synthetic oil have to offer?Back to top
What Are The Benefits To Using Synthetic Oil Over Conventional Engine Oil
As odd as it sounds, synthetic oils can better withstand higher temperatures than conventional oils. When exposed to heat for long periods of time, conventional oil will break down – it becomes thinner and is unable to lubricate. Synthetic oil is resistant to heat, meaning it does better than mineral oil.
You can safely increase the draining interval up to 12,000 miles in some cases. Ideally, you should change synthetic oil every 7,500-10,000 miles, and many car manufacturers recommend this range. That would be our recommendation as well. Even though there are oil companies that make oil for 20,000-mile intervals such as Mobil 1 or Royal Purple, the issue is that the oil filters don't last that long. If you want to push your oil that long either use a premium oil filter or remember to change the oil filter half way.
Synthetic oil can save you money with a boost in fuel economy. It’s a rather little increase but still something to consider. Synthetic oil handles colder temperatures much much better. Which decreases the engine wear that can occur with freezing start-ups.
Old engines that are prone to sludge may do better with synthetic oil. For example, certain 6-cylinder Toyota and Lexus engines were notorious for sludge problems. Sludge accumulation can cause a blockage in oil passages, which can kill an engine quicker. Since synthetic oil reduces the chances for sludge, it can extend the life of your engine.Back to top
What Are The Drawbacks To Using Synthetic Oil Over Conventional Ones
The biggest, and perhaps the only real, drawback to using synthetic oil is the cost. The cost is far more than conventional oil, but considering you don’t have to change your oil as often. In the long run, it’s less expensive in the grand scheme of things.
Car owners install cheap filters. Don't use an oil filter that's not meant to lubricate for 10,000 miles. Total synthetic oil can last anywhere from 7,500 to 20,000 miles, but the cheap oil filters are not designed for those kinds of miles. Therefore, the filter isn’t working like it should and can hinder the flow of oil.Back to top
Commonly Asked Questions People Have About Synthetic Oil
Can I Switch To Synthetic Oil From Regular Oil?
There is nothing stopping you from using regular oil and then synthetic oil in your vehicle. As long as you meet the requirements as laid out by your vehicle’s owner manual, you can alternate the two types.
Can I Mix Synthetic and Conventional Oil?
It’s perfectly acceptable to mix synthetic oil with conventional oil. That's how you end up with a synthetic blend. This is common if you engine is low on oil and you are trying to add some engine oil. However, if the vehicle manufacturer recommends using only synthetic oil, it’s best not to use conventional oil. If the oil level is low and you don’t have any synthetic oil on hand, it’s fine to use conventional oil. There’s also no reason to make a special visit to the mechanic to have him change your oil right away. Just change it back to synthetic oil at your earliest convenience.
Can I mix different oil types to top off the engine with oil?
If you only have one type of oil on hand and your vehicle is low on oil, it is ok to mix different oil types and grades. For example, if your engine uses 0W-20 synthetic oil but you can only find 5W-30 or 10W-40 oil, it is better to mix oils than You never want to drive your vehicle with the oil light on. Change your oil sooner than recommended to the correct oil viscosity.
What Is A Synthetic Blend Engine Oil?
Synthetic blends or also called semi-synthetic is when you mix conventional and synthetic oils. Typically this mix contains 40%-50% percent synthetic oil and 60%-50% conventional oil. Is semi-synthetic motor oil better than full synthetic? This type of oil has many beneficial properties you’d get from a full synthetic but for less money. The disadvantage is that the oil change interval is often shorter than that of full synthetic but higher than that of conventional oil.
Is Synthetic Oil Any Better Than Non-Synthetic Oil?
There are a plethora of benefits associated with synthetic oil – it doesn’t easily fail and is smudge-resistant. It can also withstand higher temperatures and do better on a cold startup. Conventional oils have undergone some improvement such as better temperature range due to the additives added in them and the blend of detergents that ensure the engine stays clean.
Is There A Difference Between Synthetic Oil and Semi-Synthetic Oil?
Semi-synthetic oils are a combination of mineral and synthetic oils. They are cheaper than full synthetics. However, engines that need a semi-synthetic oil can benefit from the full version, as it will boost engine protection.
Why Should I Choose Synthetic Oil?
Synthetic oils work extremely well when you just start your vehicle, and the engine is warming up. This kind of oil can handle any temperature it’s put through. It’s the biggest advantage to using it over mineral oils. Plus, it’s less likely to cause an accumulation of sludge in your engine and lines.
Can I switch synthetic oil brands?
Yes, you can switch between different oil brands at your next oil change. Avoid mixing up different synthetic oils at once.
You can alternate your use of regular and synthetic oil unless dictated by your vehicle manufacturer that you shouldn’t. When you switch back to regular oil keep these things in mind.
- If your vehicle is equipped with a turbocharged or high-performance engine that runs at hotter temperatures, you should continue using synthetic oil.
- If you switch to conventional oil, you should change the conventional oil and filter every 3,000 miles, even if the owner's manual or your vehicle reminds you for an oil change every 7,500 or 10,000 miles. You owner' manual and the oil service reminder in your car, may assume you are using synthetic oil. They don't know that you switched to conventional oil. Your car will not remind you to change the oil at 3,000 miles.