Many car owners are stuck in the middle of the debate revolving around synthetic motor oil and conventional motor oil. One might think that because synthetic oil is called “synthetic” that, even though it’s manufactured, it is engineered to have the same properties as standard or traditional motor oil. This is not the case. Each kind of motor oil has its own virtues, and it’s difficult to say, conclusively, if one is better than the other. There are different reasons and situations to use either oil. It just depends on your car.
While there are many advantages to using synthetic oil—which we’ll get to in a moment—it’s important to remember a few things. Using synthetic oil will not eliminate the need for oil changes, it will not stop wear and tear to your engine completely, nor will it help your car get many more miles per gallon.
But on to its advantages. The main benefit of synthetic oil is its ability to make your car’s engine run more efficiently. Because synthetic oil is offers less resistance in your car’s engine, your car gains horsepower and uses less gas. These benefits may just extend the life of your car’s engine, saving you some money in the long run. Synthetic oil is also good for your wallet because it requires fewer oil changes than conventional oil. HowStuffWorks.com explains, “Depending on where you drive (dusty, dirty climates), and how much and far you drive (shorter distances don’t heat oil enough to boil off condensation in the engine), you can probably last between oil changes for 10,000, 15,000, on up to 20,000 miles with some brands of synthetic.” This doesn’t mean you can avoid the mechanic altogether; even if you use synthetic oil, monitor your car’s oil levels and continue to visit your mechanic regularly for inspection or tune-ups.
Synthetic oil also outperforms conventional oil in extreme temperatures. In high heat, your engine runs the risk of becoming overheated. Conventional oil reacts more strongly to the heat and thins out while synthetic oil retains its viscosity and effectiveness. On the other end of the spectrum, bitter cold temperatures of winter may cause conventional motor oil to thicken up. Again, synthetic remains fairly stable and keeps your engine running smoothly. So, while synthetic oil is generally a little more expensive than conventional motor oil, it provides you with peace of mind.
Fewer oil changes, better performance, greater dependability. How does synthetic oil do it? Well, because it’s manufactured and not derived from petroleum, those who create synthetic oil have more control over what goes into the oil. Sometimes, synthetics are referred to as “Clean” when being compared to conventional oil. This doesn’t mean synthetic oil is any better for the environment, but it does mean there is less by-product hanging out in your engine with the potential to leave behind deposits of sludge and build-up. Synthetic oil drastically reduces engine wear and tear over time and will help keep your car running smoothly for longer.
Conventional Motor Oil
As you can see there are many advantages to using synthetic oil. However, don’t quite count out traditional oil. Many experts believe that traditional motor oil is superior for breaking in the engine on new cars. This is because new cars have engines with parts with edges that need to be worn down a bit, so some initial wear and tear is good for working out any kinks that your new car’s engine may have. There is some speculation about how many miles the breaking-in period lasts. Answers will vary from person to person, but it’s generally accepted that this period is somewhere between 500-5,000 miles. Consult with your mechanic as each car is different.
Between synthetic oil and traditional oil it seems that synthetic, while more expensive, is the wise choice to maintain and extend your car’s engine. But remember to check your car’s manual for guidelines and recommendations, and talk with your mechanic about the advantages and disadvantages to each. Make sure to have your car regularly serviced and your oil regularly changed so you can keep driving worry-free.
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