Should you be using Synthetic Oil?
Most of us have no idea what the numbers, letters, and symbols on the front of the oil bottles mean and we just know what our mechanic, or our family and friends tell us we should use. For the most part, oil is oil, right? It keeps your engine and parts lubricated and running smooth, but there are differences in oils that could help you to extend the life of your vehicle far beyond what you would expect. So what is the difference between conventional and synthetic motor oil?
They both start off as crude oil. They are both refined but, synthetic oil is distilled down to its basic components leaving behind mostly just the compounds you want and leaving behinds most of the impurities from the crude oil. Why is this important? Well, as oil travels through your engine it picks up deposits of carbon, dirt, and various other nasty things. Over time these form a horrible black substance called sludge. Simply put, because there are fewer impurities in synthetic oils to begin with, they can absorb more of these compounds before sludge happens. This gives you the ability to go longer between oil changes. It also keeps your engine much cleaner on the inside if you follow a regular oil change schedule.
Because of the distilling process, synthetic oils have the ability to be tailor made to the needs of their engines, which is why most professionals will tell you that for a higher mileage engine, synthetic oils are definitely the way to go. Because they sludge less, and are more cleanly refined, synthetic oils also generally flow better in colder climates which means they take less time to flow through the engine in cold weather meaning less wear and tear during winter. They also have a higher stress point for heat giving them better protection power in higher temperatures. In short, they pretty much outperform conventional oils in every way except price. Conventional oils are slightly cheaper (usually 1-2 dollars per bottle) which gives them at least one thing they do better than synthetic oils.
So how do you recognize synthetic oils on the shelves? Look for three letter SAE. This is the surest way for you to know that you’re getting synthetic oil.