Making The Switch To Synthetic Motor Oil
If you’ve been shopping around for motor oil in the past twenty years or so you’ve probably noticed more and more “synthetic” motor oils available for the modern consumer. Maybe you’ve never thought about it, or maybe your mechanic has simply done all of your oil changes and you never even knew there was a difference. There’s a real chance that your vehicle might have synthetic oil in it right now – and you might not even know what that means.
Fortunately, there is a simple explanation. With the rise of high-powered machines capable of churning out more power than ever on the road, so too came a need for more durable and reliable motor oils. Thus, the switch from conventional to synthetic oils was born, and we’ve been feeling the positive effects ever since.
Here’s a quick rundown on synthetic motor oil, and when and why it might be the right time for you to think about a synthetic oil change.
What’s The Difference?
The first thing many of those unfamiliar with the intricacies of oils might ask is “What’s the difference?” It’s a fair question, honestly, because for most drivers there will be little to no difference in performance between a conventional oil and a synthetic oil – unless, that is, you drive a seriously powerful piece of machinery.
That’s because synthetic motor oil was invented to help properly lubricate extremely powerful engines, including those that could reach temperatures well above the same range for conventional oils. In many of these engines conventional motor oil would simply break down from the heat generated, and would contribute to a faster buildup of sludgy debris that could eventually ripple the engine faster than necessary.
Synthetic oils, on the other hand, keep their proper viscosity and can lubricate an engine at much higher and lower temperatures than conventional oil, and is thus better suited for everything from high-performance racing models to heavy-duty work trucks. And, since synthetic oils are specially formulated for durability, they can often last for thousands of miles over conventional oils.
The difference lies in how the two are manufactured. While conventional motor oil is typically made from refined crude oil with minerals that can build up into sludge, synthetic oil is further refined and broken down into basic chemicals, then re-mixed into the optimal lubricant for high-performance vehicles. This reduced debris in the oil and allows for both higher temperatures and a longer lifespan.
That being said, drivers should expect to pay a higher price for synthetic oil as opposed to conventional, thanks to the greater cost required with manufacturing these synthetic options. The value in the long run, however, and the damage you prevent in your engine may end up saving you quite a bit in repairs and oil changes down the road, and so the extra cost for synthetic is typically worth it.
Do I Need Synthetic?
Whether or not your engine requires synthetic oil or if it can run fine on conventional is a model-by-model distinction, and the answer usually lies in your vehicle’s oner’s manual. There, you should find not only your manufacturer’s recommended type of oil but also the viscosity you’ll need and, for some models, even a preferred brand of oil to use. These are all helpful places to start when it comes to determining whether or not your engine needs synthetic. If you own an older car or one that’s definitely not high-performance, you may just be able to get away with using the less-expensive conventional oil – although expect to need oil changes more frequently.
Regardless of whether or not your vehicle is able to use conventional, some drivers may still opt for synthetic oil to better protect their high-performance engines and reduce the frequency of oil changes in their vehicle. In this way, the switch to synthetic might not be necessary but could be an excellent choice to protect your vehicle for the long haul.
What’s A Synthetic Blend?
Those who’ve browsed the shelves of your local auto supply store or mega mart should have noticed oil options in both synthetic and conventional varieties. Some, however, may have noticed a third option parked right in the middle that may seem a bit confusing: a synthetic oil blend.
In all reality, this is as simple as it sounds – manufacturers simply combine the less expensive conventional mineral oil with a percentage of full synthetic for a mixture that utilizes both the reliability and performance power of synthetic and the cost-effective qualities of conventional. This is a good low-cost option for the driver looking for a way to save some money without sacrificing too much quality.
What About High-Mileage Oils?
If your trusty vehicle has taken you beyond the horizon and back before, you might need to consider high-mileage oil for your next oil change. Designed specifically for engines with over 75,000 miles on the odometer, these powerful high-mileage options can help better protect aging engines from the worst damage done my the passage of time and heavy use.
For many high-mileage oils, this comes in the form of additives and conditioners to actually improve engine condition, along with a chemical structure better for older and heavily-used engines. This can include seal conditioners to soften and protect your engine’s hoses and seals, a higher viscosity for cold- and hot-weather performance, and fewer sludge-generating particles for a longer lifespan.
And for drivers who like their options, these high-mileage oils often come in conventional, full-synthetic, or synthetic blends – bringing with them all the benefits and bonuses of each alongside its reliable capabilities as a high-mileage oil. For car owners who want to hold on to their beloved vehicles as long as possible, this is a great option to protect and preserve your trusted engine.
So whether you’ve just purchased an impressive new racing model that can pump out hundreds of horsepower or you’re simply looking for a better way to take good care of your trusty beater, choosing a synthetic motor oil is one minor adjustment that can make a major difference. If you’re looking for a way to keep your engine running strong for miles to come, think synthetic – it may just be the best thing you’ve ever done for your car.