Talking Oil Change: Why Choose Synthetic?
For many car owners, the mysteries of motor oil may be as nebulous as the thick, acrid smoke pouring out of a busted and broken-down engine. While all drivers (should) know to get an oil change fairly regularly, many simply let the mechanic handle changing the oil from start to finish, with little insight into the process itself. But do just a little research on motor oil – that all-important lubricant that keeps your engine operating smoothly – and you’ll see that there are actually a wide variety of options when it comes to finding the best motor oil for your car. Among these, the biggest discussion revolves around one new, helpful, and controversial option available to any driver: synthetic motor oil.
But what is synthetic motor oil, anyway? For some, it’s the solution to sludge and buildup for high-performance vehicles, while others say it’s nothing more than an expensive way to do roughly the same thing as conventional. For those unsure about the real differences, here’s a deep dive into the differences between synthetic and conventional motor oil – and how to determine which one is right for your vehicle.
Synthetic Vs. Conventional
Simply put, synthetic oil is just what it sounds like – meaning, rather than being processed from petroleum like conventional oil, synthetic is made from other esther-like materials into a similar, but cleaner, substance. That means fewer impurities and, therefore, less buildup in your engine – all at a higher cost to the consumer. Because synthetic costs more to produce, consumers can expect to pay more for full synthetic. This returns, however, in that synthetic tends to break down slower and last longer between oil changes, meaning less frequent changes and longer-lasting oil.
Which to Choose?
Deciding which type of oil is right for your vehicle is probably a pretty simple process – in most cases, just stick with what you’ve been using in the past. Many mechanics recommend sticking with conventional if you have an older car that has used conventional in the past, as there are fears that changing the type of oil could actually dislodge sludge and damage your engine. The jury’s still out on this one, but traditional wisdom says to stick with what you’ve been using.
Then again, those planning on pushing their engine to the max – including owners of sports cars and high-performance models – should definitely consider synthetic. Built to withstand higher heat and tougher conditions, synthetic oils are better at taking on those rough rides and keeping your engine in top shape for the duration. If you plan on really pushing your vehicle on the road, synthetic might be the right choice for you.
What About Blends?
For those still unsure which side of the fence to stand on, there is a middle ground: the synthetic blend. These typically combine synthetic and conventional oils with additives to provide all the high-powered, high-heat reliability of synthetic oil with the cost-effectiveness of conventional. Many modern drivers prefer blends for just this reason, and in many mechanic shops nowadays you’ll find synthetic blends are the standard option for most oil changes.
So whether you’re a long-time car owner or just getting into the game, you definitely don’t want to neglect your regular oil changes – and when it comes to picking a motor oil, make sure to pick the one that’s right for you. Take care of your car and it will take care of you – and keep running smooth for miles to come.