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Is synthetic Oil BetterNearly every engine ever made needs oil. Unless you drive a mid-1960s Honda S600 with roller bearings on its crankshaft, oil is what allows the internal parts of your engine to spin. Oil creates a low-friction barrier between the crank, rods, and pistons. Without it, your engine would seize up and become a giant paperweight.

What Is Synthetic Oil?

While conventional and synthetic oils are both made from the black stuff you see coming out of pump jacks on vast oil fields, synthetic oils are more complex. They’re designed, crafted, and engineered from petroleum molecules to be exceptionally consistent, and every company has its own recipe.

Conventional oil is less consistent and less stable. Some companies create “synthetic blends” by combining synthetic and conventional oil. This improves performance without costing far more than what some customers are willing to pay.

Why Use Synthetic Oil?

Some vehicle manufacturers specify that their products require synthetic oil. This issue almost always has to do with performance.

Synthetic Oil Lasts Longer

Thanks to that engineered consistency, synthetic oil provides longer protection than conventional oil. This means a vehicle owner can go greater distances between oil changes and increase engine longevity.

Owners should always follow manufacturer guidelines for their vehicles. However, some synthetics can last tens of thousands of miles before requiring a change.

Synthetic Oil Is Less Temperature-Sensitive

Conventional oil changes considerably as temperatures rise and fall, becoming thinner and thicker depending on atmospheric conditions. In fact, if the ambient temperature is cold enough, conventional oil can become so thick that it’s not pumpable, leading to oil starvation. Synthetic oil maintains its viscosity far better.

Synthetic Oil Is Cleaner

When oil ages, it can form sludge, which reduces engine efficiency (and its lifespan). Synthetic oil is much better at resisting sludge formation than conventional oil, which can have many natural impurities.

Are There Advantages to Conventional Oil?

If synthetic were perfect, no one would ever use conventional oil. While synthetic has many benefits, there are a few reasons why using conventional oil can be a good idea, depending on the circumstances.

Conventional Oil Is Cheaper

Synthetic oil can be up to four times as expensive as the conventional variety, and drivers on a budget might find the cost difference to be significant. If you live in a temperate climate and don’t push your car to the limits of its performance, you can certainly use conventional oil — if your manufacturer says it’s okay in your car, that is.

Conventional Oil Can Be Better for Older Engines

Vehicles with more than 75,000 miles sometimes benefit from using conventional oil. This is because tolerances are looser, and the thickness of conventional oil provides extra cushioning between parts.

Which Type of Oil Is Right for You?

Always follow your manufacturer's guidelines for your car and change the oil at the appropriate intervals. If your vehicle was designed to use synthetic, use synthetic.

Alternatively, if you use conventional motor oil in a vehicle designed to use it, that’s fine, too. Pay attention to the ambient temperature, let the engine warm up before pushing it hard, and don’t go beyond the recommended mileage for oil changes.

Summary: Using synthetic oil is vital for many vehicles, but conventional oil has been the standard since the beginning of the automobile. Synthetic is often the superior oil, but there are times when conventional oil is a better option.

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