If your vehicle is due for an oil change, we highly recommend synthetic oil. Here at Kernersville Auto Center, we have conventional oil, synthetic oil, and synthetic blends. However, we almost always recommend a synthetic oil change due to the benefits of this type of oil. Is synthetic oil right for you? Here are some frequently asked questions about synthetic motor oil.
What Makes a Synthetic Oil Change Different?
In the 1920s, oil companies developed synthetic oil and it first became available to consumers in the 1970s. Today, synthetic oil is extremely common and is available from most major oil brands including the one that we use, Havoline.
But what makes synthetic oil different?
Most people can’t tell a difference when they look at conventional and synthetic oils. Refiners make motor oil from the same raw petroleum material regardless of whether it is synthetic or conventional. The difference is only apparent at the molecular level.
Synthetic oil is a more highly-refined product, as a result of removing impurities to make sure the molecules line up neatly. This might seem like a tiny, insignificant difference. In actuality, this level of refinement creates an oil that many experts consider to be a better option. It provides superior lubrication for your engine. In addition, it doesn’t break down as quickly as conventional oil, which is better for your engine. It also means you can go longer between each oil change.
Is Synthetic Oil Better than Conventional Oil?
Most experts believe synthetic oil is better than conventional oil. However, it depends on your specific situation. Remember that whatever oil you choose, it is a critical part of your basic vehicle maintenance. The main function of the motor oil is to lubricate the engine parts. Scheduling your oil change service at the appropriate intervals will keep your vehicle running smoothly and problem-free for much longer.
Synthetic oil is typically more expensive upfront than conventional motor oil. So, for some drivers, the extra cost may not be worth the benefits. Conventional oil or a blend might make more sense for you.
That said, keep in mind that synthetic oil can be less expensive over time for some drivers. Yes, you’ll pay more upfront, but the superior quality means that you won’t need to book your synthetic oil change as often. It can also drastically improve the lifespan of your engine. Rebuilding an engine is so expensive that some people simply get a new car. So, if you can get some extra life out of your engine, that’s a significant savings!
Check out this blog post for a full explanation about whether synthetic oil is worth the cost.
What is the Difference between Synthetic Blends and Fully Synthetic Oil?
In addition to synthetic and conventional oils, you may have heard of oil blends. Sometimes, refiners call these synthetic blend motor oil or semi-synthetic oil.
A synthetic blend oil is a “Goldilocks” option for many drivers. It is less refined than a fully synthetic oil, but it is less expensive as well. We recommend this as the next best option if a fully synthetic oil change is not in your budget.
Not all blends are equal. We recommend always using a quality brand with additives that will help protect your vehicle. Here at Kernersville Auto Center, we exclusively use Havoline motor oils. This is the brand we use in our family’s vehicles. We never recommend something for our customers that we wouldn’t for our own family. When you bring your car to our shop, you become part of our family.
Can I Mix Synthetic Oil and Conventional Oil?
Technically, you are getting a mix of synthetic oil and conventional oil if you choose a blend. Both types of oil start out from the same material. Therefore, it won’t really hurt your car if you mix them together (unless you have a high-performance vehicle that needs fully synthetic oil).
However, we don’t recommend mixing your own blend. Havoline and other top brands carefully formulate their blends for the best performance possible. Leave the blending to the experts!
You definitely don’t need to worry about the two different kinds of oil mixing if you switch from conventional to synthetic. Either way, we’ll start your oil change by draining the old oil and replacing your old oil filter. The small amount of oil residue that remains in your vehicle doesn’t matter. It will mix into the new oil and be indistinguishable.
Can I Use Synthetic Oil in My Older Car?
With very few exceptions, you can use either conventional or synthetic oil in any vehicle, no matter what the age. Yes, this even includes vintage or antique vehicles that were manufactured before synthetic oil was commercially available to most consumers. Unless your manufacturer requires a specific type of oil, the choice is yours.
It is a common myth that synthetic oils cause leaks. What actually happens is that the sludge caused by conventional oil might plug a tiny leak. Then, when you switch to synthetic, it flows better and exposes this leak. The oil itself doesn’t cause a leak; it simply shows you what is already there. Today, this is not a common problem, since even conventional oils perform well in newer vehicles. This was more of a problem back when companies first offered synthetic oils to consumers.
Some pre-90s engines have larger gaps in the engine seals, which cause leaks with synthetic oil. Our experienced team can give you advice regarding using oil in a vintage or antique vehicle. In most cases, you can use synthetic in an older vehicle with no problems.
If I Don’t Like the Synthetic Oil Change, Can I Switch Back to Conventional?
Yes! It is another common myth that you are stuck with whatever oil you are currently using. You can switch between conventional oil and synthetic oil whenever you have an oil change. This is also true for blends.
If you scheduled a synthetic or synthetic blend oil change in the past, simply let us know if you want to switch back to conventional. When we book your oil change appointment, we’ll make sure you get the product you want.
Is Synthetic Oil the Same as High Mileage Oil?
Synthetic oil is not the same as high mileage oil, but most high mileage oils are either synthetic or a synthetic blend. With a high mileage oil, there are additives that help protect an older or high-use engine. We typically recommend high mileage oil if you have more than 75,000 miles on your vehicle.
The additives in high mileage oil can help prevent leaks. Do you need it? One way to figure out if high mileage can benefit your engine is to check your oil level occasionally. If you find that you often have to add oil frequently to maintain the proper level, you might benefit from high mileage oil. This article from Cars.com has some great information about who should use high mileage oil.
If you’re not sure, simply ask a member of our team when you book your regular oil change. We’ll go over the pros and cons so you can make a more informed decision about which oil is right for your vehicle.
How Often Should I Change My Oil?
At one time, you could use the phrase “three months or three thousand miles” to remember how often to schedule your oil change service. Today, the answer isn’t as straightforward. If you check your vehicle owner’s manual, it probably recommends which oil viscosity to use, along with how often to change it. (Read more about viscosity here.)
However, synthetic motor oil lasts longer for most drivers, since it doesn’t break down as quickly. When motor oil breaks down, it causes sludge. In turn, this sludge causes your engine to work harder. If you go long enough between oil changes, your engine will completely seize, which is bad news. Trust us when we say that you don’t want the time and expense of that repair bill! It is much easier to simply prevent this problem by following oil change interval guidelines.
What are those guidelines? Well, with regular oil, you probably want to stick with the maximum of 3,000 miles. However, with a synthetic oil or synthetic blend oil, you might be looking at more like 5,000 miles. In some cases, you can go even longer.
We will base the oil change interval we recommend not only on the type of oil you choose, but also your driving habits and other factors. For example, if you have a long dirt driveway, all that dust kicked up can more easily make its way to your engine. In this case, we would recommend more frequent oil changes.
In short, there’s no one right answer for every driver. We’ll talk about the oil life of different options during your appointment. When you leave our shop, you’ll know exactly when to come back.
Do I Need to Change My Oil Filter?
We recommend changing your oil filter whenever you change your oil. This is something we build into your pricing. It is a common myth that you don’t need to change your filter every time.
Your oil filter is the part that gets dirty as your oil lubricates your engine. It prevents particles from clogging your engine. Even if you use synthetic oil, thermal breakdown occurs over time. If you change the oil but don’t change the filter, you are putting your engine at risk.
Do I Need to Use a Certain Brand of Oil?
If you have a vehicle warranty, you probably need to keep up with oil changes. However, very few require you to use a certain brand. You can also typically choose if you want to use conventional, synthetic, or a blend, unless you choose a car where the manufacturer requires synthetic.
We would be happy to review your vehicle’s warranty if you are unsure. Additionally, we can review a lease if you have a leased vehicle. We’ll make sure that your oil change doesn’t cause any issues.
Can You Answer My Other Oil Change Questions?
Our team is always happy to answer any questions you may have about oil changes or other car care services. We believe that every customer should feel empowered to make the best decisions possible for their vehicle. So, if you don’t understand something, just ask! We would be happy to explain it to you in easy-to-understand terms.
Unlike some other shops, we have ASE-certified mechanics. ASE (Automotive Service Excellence) is an independent testing organization that requires its members to pass high-level tests periodically to ensure that they are knowledgeable about today’s engines and all vehicle systems. We have been in business for more than 25 years, and that experience shows in the high level of service we provide. Plus, we have a strong commitment to integrity and transparency. You won’t get a surprise bill at the end of your appointment. We’ll let you know the exact cost before we start, along with all options.
Check out our customer reviews to learn more about what it is like to bring your car to Kernersville Auto Center.
What Other Services Does My Vehicle Need?
Regular maintenance is the best way to keep your vehicle on the road. Spend a little money upfront to avoid major repair bills later. Changing your oil is a great start, but here is a maintenance checklist you’ll want to follow to keep your vehicle in good condition:
- Check all fluids regularly to maintain proper levels.
- Schedule tire rotation and replace tires that have worn tread.
- Maintain the proper tire air pressure.
- Replace your air filter.
- Check all lights including headlights, turn signals, break lights, and running lights. Replace bulbs that burn out.
- Replace your windshield wipers when they are no longer effective or have rips.
- Inspect and replace other parts as needed, including spark plugs, battery, shocks and struts, brakes, and more.
We also recommend an engine tune-up every year or two, which helps you ensure your vehicle continues to run well. A tune-up can spot problems before they happen, as well as help you improve performance and gas mileage.
As a certified NC inspection station, we can provide the annual inspection that the state requires. If we find a problem during the inspection, we can fix it immediately and complete your inspection approval process in one visit.
The Kernersville Auto Center team can help you with this entire checklist and more! Click here to book your appointment or contact us if you’d like to set your appointment by phone.