If it’s time for your next oil change, you might be asking yourself, “Is synthetic oil worth it?” Synthetic oil is more expensive than conventional motor oil. However, over time, synthetic is the best choice for your car. Your vehicle requires a synthetic oil change much less frequently than a conventional oil. Let’s take a look at the main benefits of synthetic motor oil and why it is worth the higher price tag.
Simply Put, Synthetic Oil Works Better
Synthetic oil and conventional oil are essentially the same thing. They are both petroleum products made from crude oil that is refined to remove impurities. Motor oil keeps your engine lubricated. It prevents friction, which in turn prevents heat. Without clean oil in your car, your engine would overheat or seize up completely.
To put it bluntly: oil matters!
One of the best things you can do for your vehicle is schedule an oil change whenever your car needs one, based on manufacturer recommendations.
If conventional and synthetic oil are the same thing, though, why is one better than the other?
Well, with conventional oil, the refinement process removes all impurities such as dirt and bits of rock. This gives you a pure product to lubricate your car’s engine. With synthetic oil, however, the refining process goes a step further. The crude oil is not only purified, but it is also refined at the molecular level. All the oil molecules are lined up so they are going the same direction, which leads to increased lubrication properties.
Synthetic oil, therefore, protects your engine better than conventional oil by reducing friction. It also is more resistant to breaking down over time, which leads to less sludge. Engine sludge is the enemy of lubrication and can also clog your oil filter. With synthetic motor oil, you’ll see less of this build-up over time.
Does Synthetic Oil Really Cost More?
The upfront cost of synthetic oil is higher, so when you schedule your oil change you might be tempted to choose conventional. However, over time, synthetic can actually help you save money in two ways:
- You’ll need to change your oil less often.
- It increases your engine’s lifespan.
First, with synthetic lubricants, you’ll be able to go longer between each oil change. You still need to change your oil! However, with synthetic, you could go twice as long or even longer in some cases. The longer oil change interval helps you to save money. Our trained and licensed mechanics can recommend exactly how often you should change your oil. This will depend on your car’s make and model, as well as your specific driving needs. For example, someone who drives on dirt roads every day may need to change their oil more often than the average person.
The second way synthetic motor oil saves you money is through increasing your engine’s lifespan. As your car gets older, it is more and more likely that the engine will need major repairs. At some point, the engine will need to be completely rebuilt, and at this point it may make more sense to simply replace your vehicle. Even if you take care of your engine through regular preventative maintenance, the extreme temperature while driving will break down all engines over time. While your oil can prevent even higher temperatures, it is not miracle juice! That said, synthetic oil does provide better lubrication, so it holds off the engine grim reaper longer than conventional oil. High mileage synthetic oil is especially helpful for vehicles with over 75,000 miles.
Because your engine doesn’t have to work as hard with synthetic oil, you’ll also see slightly better fuel economy. Who doesn’t love saving money at the pump? However, we always warn drivers that the gas mileage improvement they’ll see is minimal. Most drivers do not notice a huge difference in terms of the money they spend on gas. Still, every dollar counts, especially if you drive more than the average driver.
What about Synthetic Blends?
As the name implies, a synthetic blend is a cross between synthetic and conventional oils. Blends are the best of both worlds. They are less expensive than synthetic oil, but they give you better performance than conventional oil. We typically recommend synthetic. However, a blend might be the right choice for you if your only other option is standard motor oil. Blends provide at least a little extra protection.
Blends, as well as full synthetic motor oil products, often have additives. These additives give you additional protections and are recommended for some drivers. Our mechanics can explain all your oil options so you can choose the best product for your car. In most cases, full synthetic oil is going to be the way to go.
Don’t worry; you can choose a full synthetic or oil blend even if you have an older car. It’s a myth that old cars need traditional oil. Oil is oil. Whether it is conventional, synthetic, or a blend, it will still work to lubricate your car and prevent engine wear. If you don’t have a modern engine, you can use conventional oil in your car. It can even help your classic car run better.
Also, keep in mind that you can switch between the different types of oil when you schedule an oil change. You just want to make sure to drain the old oil completely before adding new oil. The small amount of oil residue in your engine won’t matter if you change the type of oil you’re using. So, if you are on the fence about synthetic oil, give it a try. You can always switch back during your next oil change.
Understanding Oil Weights
When you get your oil change, you’ll also need to choose the right oil weight for your car. This is why we recommend having professionals like the team at our shop change your oil. We’ll follow all manufacturer recommendations to give you the synthetic engine oil weight you need. You won’t have to try to figure it out by yourself.
“Weight” actually refers to the oil’s viscosity, which is how thick the oil is at certain temperatures. At one time, decades in the past, you needed different oils during different times of year, in order to match the outside temperature. Today’s oils are formulated to work well at multiple temperatures. That’s why you’ll see the oil weight listed as two numbers. One number indicates viscosity at higher temperatures while the other indicates viscosity at low temperatures.
For example, your vehicle might need a 5w30 oil (also sometimes written as 5W-30). The first number with the W, in this example 5, indicates how the oil performs during the winter (i.e., during cold weather). The second number, in this example 30, indicates how the oil performs during hot temperatures. The higher the number, the thicker the oil will be.
This is important because you want your engine to start even during cold weather. Have you ever kept a bottle of maple syrup in the refrigerator? When it’s cold, it moves really slowly to coat your pancakes. However, heat it in the microwave for a few seconds and the warmer syrup flows smoothly. Your engine oil is the same way. When it is cold, you want it to be thinner so it can flow better, but when it warms up it will automatically flow better.
The right oil weight for your car depends on multiple factors, but we always start by looking at what your manufacturer recommends. Typically, the first number will be between 0W and 20W and the second number will be between 30 and 50. However, this does vary from car to car. High performance vehicles, turbocharged engines, and other special cars may need special oil to prevent sludge under extreme conditions. Again, the ASE-certified mechanics here at Kernersville Auto Center can make the best recommendation for your vehicle.
How Long to Wait Between Oil Changes
As we mentioned, the synthetic oil change interval is longer than the conventional oil change interval. Exact length will depend on a variety of factors, as is noted in this article by AAA.
Traditionally, you would want to change your oil every 3,000 miles. However, if you have a modern engine and are using synthetic lubricants, you can go much longer between changes. Typically, you’ll still want to bring your car to our shop for an oil change every 5,000 – 7,500 miles, but in some cases, you may be able to go up to 15,000 miles between oil changes. Our mechanics will let you know what is the right interval for your car and driving conditions. After all, you don’t want to be draining oil that is perfectly fine. Not only is it bad for your wallet, but it is also bad for the environment.
When you schedule your oil change, it is also a great time for a general tune-up and car maintenance. Here at Kernersville Auto Center, we can do everything from replacing a blown headlight to brake service. We even do full engine and transmission overhauls.
Additionally, we are a state vehicle inspection station. You’ll need to have your vehicle inspected once per year here in North Carolina, and in many counties, you’ll need an emissions test as well. An inspection will look for common issues such as old windshield wipers and poor tire tread. It is designed to ensure your car is safe to drive. We can get your inspection done at the same time you change your oil. You’ll be back on the road in no time.
Is Synthetic Oil Worth It? We Say Yes!
While synthetic oil may not be the best choice for every driver in the world, the vast majority of drivers will benefit from switching to synthetic. It’s the best way to protect your engine and you can cut down on the amount of time you spend in the shop. We love our customers, but when we don’t see you, that’s a good thing; it means you don’t have car problems!
With so many auto shop options, we’re honored to be a top choice in the Triad area. Here’s what just a few of our customers are saying about their experience with Kernersville Auto Center:
“We have trusted our vehicles to Mac and his team for over a decade. An asset to the community. Always professional and personable. I don’t go anywhere else.” – Tim Icenhower
“Being a busy owner of my own business, I know the importance of excellent customer service. These guys know what they are doing on all levels. My wife now regularly uses them for her weekly car wash as well. Highly recommend!” – Stephen Bagby
“Excellent service, fast, will give you an estimate if you need it. Terrific owner, he keeps the customer front and center, and so does his excellent staff.” – Sandy Tuttle
We treat customers the way we want to be treated, with respect and understanding. After serving the greater Kernersville area for more than 25 years, we know how important it is to treat our customers like family. They have been recommending us to their friends and family throughout the years. Our team of certified mechanics is happy to explain any repair recommendations in easy-to-understand, non-technical terms. We want you to feel completely confident that you’re making the best decision for your vehicle. Schedule an appointment now for your next oil change or any other service you may need. Or, just give us a call at 336-993-7697.