Synthetic Oil Vs. Conventional Oil
You’re in the auto parts store, shopping for motor oil. In one hand, you have conventional oil and in the other, synthetic oil. So, how do you determine which one to use? Do you go by price? How about choosing what your co-worker or friend uses?
Well, there are certain instances where synthetic oil makes sense and other instances where conventional oil is a fine choice. We know many folks throughout Mission Viejo, Orange County, and Cerritos, CA, have questions about synthetic vs. conventional motor oil. So, our Norm Reeves Cerritos INFINITI team has created this overview as a handy guide. Contact us with any additional questions you may have!
Understanding Motor Oil
Before touching on the synthetic vs. conventional oil debate, it’s important to understand what motor oil does in general. Motor oil changes are one of the most common services a car can receive. So, what is it about motor oil that is so important?
The primary responsibilities of motor oil can be broken into three categories: temperature regulation, lubrication, and cleanliness. To start, the oil works hard to ensure the engine doesn’t overheat during heavy usage. So, when you’re pushing your car down a backroad or setting off on a lengthy summer trip, it’s the motor oil that ensures the engine remains cool and collected.
Next is the matter of lubrication. There are many working parts which, in unison, allow the engine to function properly. These parts move at great speeds and would wear down quite quickly, if not for the involvement of motor oil. The oil heavily decreases friction, which means the engine can run properly without any mechanical hiccups.
Finally, the motor oil has the final job of picking up dirt and debris as it circulates under the hood. It then drops this debris into a filter, which is normally replaced at the same time as the motor oil. If not for the oil, this debris could build up and cause a blockage.
Conventional oil is taken straight from Mother Nature, then processed to become useable in your vehicle. It also has different additives that protect your engine. These additives provide the proper heat tolerance and breakdown resistance that engines require. Conventional oil is inexpensive and gets a bad rap as a less effective oil. It is true that conventional oil requires more frequent oil changes. However, it is recommended by many professionals—as long as it complies with the requirements listed in your car owner’s manual.
Who will benefit from conventional oil?
Conventional oil should be used in older engines, due to its thick molecular structure. Older engines typically have bigger gaps between parts, so using a thicker oil will prevent leaks. Drivers who put added strain on their vehicles can benefit from conventional oil as well. Added strain can include spending time in stop-and-go traffic, exposure to extreme heat or cold, and using the vehicle for towing.
Synthetic oil improves the longevity and the effectiveness of motor oils. Nowadays, more and more auto manufacturers are recommending synthetic oil for their vehicles. Manufactured oil takes much longer to break down than traditional oils, so engines can go longer without an oil change.
Synthetic oil is a better lubricant than conventional oil in extreme temperatures. It functions better in stop-and-go traffic, on short mileage trips, and in hard-working engines. It truly offers more benefits than conventional oil; however, these benefits come at a price.
Why Don’t We Use Synthetic Oil in Every Engine?
Synthetic oils are considerably more expensive and have a smaller molecular structure than conventional motor oils. If you have an older engine, synthetic oil can seep through gaps and create leaks. Many drivers complain that their older engines are much louder when using synthetic oil.
How Often Should I Change My Motor Oil?
The frequency with which you should change your vehicle’s motor oil will also be mentioned in the owner’s manual. Most recommendations suggest the oil should be replaced with fresh oil every 7,500 miles. Your choice of synthetic or conventional oil will play a role in this, however, as many conventional oils need to be swapped out at 5,000 miles, while certain synthetic oils can last 10,000 miles.
The type of driving you do each day is also important. The harder you push your car, whether it be aggressive driving or towing trailers across the state, the more strain you place on the engine. If the engine is heavily strained, the motor oil wears down more quickly.
On the flip side, if you do casual commuting each day and simply run errands around town on the weekend, the motor oil won’t be pressed too hard and should last longer.
Signs You Need to Change Your Motor Oil
Whether it’s synthetic or conventional, if the motor oil is beginning to wear down, you’ll notice it. The performance of the model you drive will be noticeably affected by aging motor oil. It could be a downtick in acceleration or a drop-off in fuel economy.
You may also begin to hear noises under the hood, like a grinding or a clanging sound. Thankfully, many modern vehicles have a dashboard warning light that suggests the oil level is low or that you need to have the oil changed. You can refer to the owner’s manual to see what this symbol looks like in your car!
Choosing Motor Oils
When you’re standing in the aisle deciding which oil to choose, pay attention to your car owner’s manual. Whatever the automaker’s recommendation is will work best. What you need to look out for is the APRI service rating on the bottle. If it has this rating, you are good to go.
If you are having a difficult time figuring out which oil works best for your car, call Norm Reeves Cerritos INFINITI Service Center and speak to a professional mechanic today. We’re always happy to provide automotive insight to local drivers near Mission Viejo, Cerritos, and Orange County, California, as they maintain their vehicles!