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Synthetic or Conventional Motor Oil: Which Is Better for Your Car?

Serving Families Throughout Jacksonville

While it may have a slightly higher upfront cost, the long-term benefits in terms of engine health and fuel efficiency make it a compelling choice.

Synthetic oil has become increasingly popular among car owners and for good reasons. While synthetic oil tends to cost two to four times more than conventional oil, some car owners may find the higher price is offset by the fact synthetic oil can last longer between oil changes.

Let’s take a closer look at why synthetic oil may be better for your car’s engine:

  1. Improved Viscosity and Temperature Performance
    Unlike conventional oils, which can thicken and become sluggish in cold weather or thin out in scorching heat, synthetic oil maintains its consistency, ensuring proper lubrication in all weather conditions.
  2. Better Fuel Efficiency
    With less internal resistance, your engine can operate more efficiently, which translates to more miles per gallon. Over time, this can lead to significant cost savings at the pump.
  3. Enhanced Engine Protection
    Synthetic oils are created with base oils which are of a higher quality than conventional, less-refined base oils. Their uniform molecular structure reduces friction between engine components, minimizing wear and tear. Synthetic oils are also less prone to forming harmful sludge and deposits, keeping your engine cleaner and healthier.
  4. More Miles Between Oil Changes
    While the traditional recommendation is to change your oil every 3,000 miles or so, synthetic oils can often last up to 10,000 miles between changes. This not only saves you time but can also help reduce the environmental impact of oil disposal.
  5. Cold-Start Protection
    Synthetic oils flow more readily in low temperatures, reducing wear and tear on engine components, which is particularly crucial when you first turn the key. This is especially important in colder climates where conventional oils may struggle to provide adequate lubrication.
  6. Compatible With All Cars
    Modern engines as well as classic cars can benefit from synthetic oil. Some synthetics have additives designed to help slough off old sludge—older cars may enjoy improved engine performance just by making the switch.

For some drivers, the switch to synthetic may not be worth the additional cost. Consumer Reports says, however, certain lifestyle factors should also be measured. For example, you might consider upgrading to synthetic oil if:

  • You only ever drive short distances. Conventional oil may never get hot enough to burn off moisture and impurities.
  • You experience extreme weather. Depending where you live, seasonal temperature changes can put major strain on engine lubricants. Synthetic oil outperforms conventional oil in both extreme heat and cold.
  • You use your vehicle for towing or hauling heavy material. Synthetic oil can help your engine operate more efficiently under extra stress.

No matter what type of oil you decide to put in your car, make sure to review the manufacturer's recommendations carefully. Car manufacturers spend millions of dollars researching what type of motor oil works best for their engines. The best motor oil for your vehicle is likely the one your manufacturer recommends, but that doesn’t mean you can’t upgrade to synthetic.