When you need an oil change, you have three main options: conventional oil, synthetic oil, or a blend of the two. There are advantages and disadvantages to each type. However, one of the first things you’ll notice is that synthetic oil costs more. So, you might be inclined to ask which oil option is really better. Is synthetic oil worth the added expense?
Here at Kernersville Auto Center, our team of experienced mechanics can help you make the best decision for your vehicle and driving habits. We’re happy to answer any question you may have. Let’s take a look at what makes synthetic oil more expensive and why we recommend it for many drivers.
From Crude Oil to Motor Oil: What’s the Difference between Synthetic and Conventional Oil?
All motor oil starts with a petroleum base. This product is found naturally, but is “crude” when collected. In other words, it is dirty and contains other substances. In order for oil to have a slick, lubricating property, it needs to go through a refining process.
To produce conventional oil, the company collects the crude oil and passes it along to a refinery. The refinement process removes any dirt or foreign particles from the oil. When you look at refined conventional oil (also sometimes called mineral oil) under a microscope, you’ll see only oil molecules. These molecules jumble together like pieces to a puzzle you haven’t put together yet.
On the other hand, synthetic oil is still made with raw petroleum products, but the refinement process works on a molecular level. The refinement not only removes dirt, but also lines up the molecules so they are uniform, like putting a puzzle together. The result is a product that is even smoother and more lubricating than conventional motor oil products.
The Benefits of Synthetic Oil
Since synthetic oil is more lubricating, it can have some significant positive effects on your vehicle. Oil is like blood to your car; it can’t run without it. As your drive, parts of your engine rub together. Oil prevents the engine from getting too hot by reducing the friction from this rubbing. If you don’t have enough oil or your oil Is dirty, the friction can cause your engine to overheat. Eventually, your engine will completely seize without oil.
One small added benefit is that because synthetic oil leads to less friction, your car uses slightly less gas. The fuel economy advantages aren’t mind-blowing, but every little bit helps. Better fuel economy is good for both your wallet and the environment. Of course, since you’ll have to change your oil less often, you’ll produce less petroleum product waste. This is better for the environment too.
Because oil reduces friction, it also reduces wear. Think about two pieces of metal rubbing against one another for miles upon miles. Eventually, even the toughest parts will show wear. With clean oil, the pieces slide past one another more easily with less wear. It’s like rubbing your hands together after you’ve applied lotion.
Conventional oil gets the job done. It will cut down on friction and reduce wear. However, synthetic oil does the job even better. The differences are small at first, but it adds up to be significant. By using synthetic oil, you can add years of life to your engine. Rebuilding an engine is one of the most expensive repairs you can make to your vehicle. It’s a huge cost savings to have an engine that will last a few more years.
Synthetic oil also produces less sludge. Sludge happens during oxidation, or chemical degradation. As you drive, dirt, metal particles, and other contaminants make their way into your engine. This contamination causes the oil to break down faster. Additionally, all oil breaks down over time in high-heat situations. Synthetic oil just breaks down more slowly with heat. When the oil breaks down, it creates a gunky sludge that does not keep your engine lubricated. With conventional, you’ll need to change your oil more regularly to clean out the sludge build-up. Synthetic oil users enjoy longer oil change intervals.
In general, synthetic oil is also more stable in temperature changes. Here in North Carolina, we have to deal with very high temperatures in the summer and very cold temperatures in the winter. This can change the viscosity of your oil, which changes how your engine performs. Again, it goes back to providing lubrication for your engine. You want the oil to be thin enough to flow well, but not so thin that it doesn’t coat engine parts. It’s a Goldilocks zone where the oil needs to be just right. As the temperature changes, conventional oil has a harder time staying in this Goldilocks zone. Synthetic oil simply performs better, so it is better for your car. This is especially important if you take round trips to extremely cold environments during the winter. If you drive in extreme temperatures, make sure to mention this to our team. Our ASE-certified mechanics will always discuss your driving habits and conditions before recommending the appropriate oil for your needs.
What about a Synthetic Blend?
You may have heard people talking about oil blends or a synthetic blend. These oils are also sometimes called semi-synthetic. Some people will even say “fully synthetic oil” to distinguish true synthetic oil from synthetic blends. As the name implies, a blend is an oil that is made of conventional oil and synthetic oil blended together. With blends, you get the best of both worlds. They can be an attractive option for some drivers.
By far the biggest advantage to conventional oil is the cost. Synthetic oil is better refined, so it costs more than conventional oil. With a synthetic oil blend, you’ll still get some of the benefits of synthetic, but the cost is lower. The engine protection you get with a blend isn’t as good as the protection provided by fully synthetic oil. However, a blend is typically better than conventional.
In many cases, blends have other additives for specific performance needs. One of our mechanics would be happy to discuss if a blend is the best choice for you.
Who Should Use Synthetic Oil?
First and foremost, the most important thing about your oil is that you have it changed regularly. Whether it is conventional or synthetic (or even a blend), clean oil is always better than dirty oil. So, if you are on the fence about synthetic oil because of the cost, go with conventional instead of putting off your oil change. Putting off an oil change is extremely risky. Your engine can easily overheat and seize if you never change your oil. Any oil change is better than no change at all.
After all, you can always switch to synthetic oil in the future. The beauty of oil is that you can switch easily without any repercussions. Conventional oil and synthetic oil are both the same substance. When we change your oil, we remove all the old oil first. Then, we add the new oil. We don’t need to do any kind of perfect flush of your system to remove all traces of your old oil. Even if you are switching to synthetic for the first time, a tiny bit of residue from your conventional oil won’t matter. You can switch back and forth whenever you want.
Along those same lines, it is a myth that you can’t use synthetic oil in older vehicles. It doesn’t matter how old your car is. Motor oil is motor oil. So, if you have a classic car or just an older model year, don’t worry. You can use synthetic oil. In fact, in most cases synthetic oil is the best option.
Synthetic oil is especially recommended for high-mileage engines. Once your vehicle hits around 100,000 miles, you’ll start to notice wear. Synthetic oil can help to keep your car on the road longer. We also have specific synthetic oil and oil blends for older vehicles. These high mileage options have additives to prevent excess wear.
Are Synthetic Motor Oils Worth the Added Cost?
Since synthetic lubricants are more expensive, many people wonder if the benefits outweigh the costs. When it comes to synthetic versus conventional, there’s no competition. In our opinion, yes; it makes sense for most drivers to choose synthetic. A study by AAA found that synthetic oil performs 47% better than conventional oil. And, keep in mind that although the upfront costs are higher, there are some ways you’ll save money:
- You’ll need fewer motor oil changes.
- Your vehicle’s engine will last longer.
- Depending on your driving style and conditions, you may save money on gas.
The exact cost your oil changes depends on the specific type of synthetic oil you use. We use only Havoline brand oil, which is a trusted brand, and have a few options for our customers. On average, AAA found that upgrading to synthetic only costs an average of $5.33 more per month.
Keep in mind that when you bring your car to our shop, you’ll save money in another way: our loyalty program. We offer loyalty points for every dollar you spend. Then, you can trade in these points for free car washes, free oil changes, or discounts on other services. It’s a great way to save money over time. Since we’ve been serving the Kernersville area for more than 25 years, many of our customers have been loyal to us over the years and refer us to family and friends. The loyalty program is our way of showing appreciation.
Why Choose Kernersville Auto Center for Your Next Motor Oil Change?
In addition to saving money through our loyalty program, there are a few other benefits to bringing your car to our shop:
- Our team of mechanics has experience and training working on both foreign and domestic cars. You don’t have to worry about an inexperienced team damaging your vehicle. Owner Mac Allen has over two decades of experience.
- We’re a one-stop shop for your auto maintenance needs. In addition to changing your motor oil, we can also replace your brakes, tune up your engine, check your fluids, change your battery, add nitrogen to your tires, perform a state inspection and more.
- It’s our goal to get you in and out as quickly as possible. You won’t have to wait all day at our shop.
- We change the oil filter at the same time, and it’s included in the price. Some shops won’t change the filter or will charge you extra. We believe in upfront pricing. Your oil filter needs to be changed every time you change your oil. Otherwise, your new oil will simply get dirty the moment it goes through the filter. Additionally, a clogged filter can stop oil from flowing, which can cause your engine to overheat.
- Our mechanics know exactly which oil viscosity to recommend. Oil viscosity, also called oil weight, describes how an oil flows in different temperatures. There isn’t one blanket “best” viscosity for all vehicles. We’ll help you figure out which viscosity your manufacturer recommends.
- We’re happy to explain anything to you in easy-to-understand terms. If anything about your oil change isn’t clear (such as viscosity or additives for example), we’ll answer your questions. We believe that you can make the best decisions for your vehicle when you understand the facts.
Lastly, customer service is always important to us. We take pride in providing top-quality service to both you and your engine. Here’s what some of our happy customers are saying:
“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
“I can’t say enough about how easy Mac Allen and Havoline Xpress Lube make it for someone to maintain their car. The staff comes out to meet you and takes care of everything. They are very knowledgeable about all aspects of vehicle maintenance. I have had my oil changed, new windshield wipers, NC inspection, and new tires with nitrogen. All a customer has to do is wait in his clean, comfortable waiting area. Mac makes taking care of your car as painless as possible!” – Lou Ann Peters
“Always top-notch service, they know the names of all their customers and treat your vehicle as if it’s their own. Their new car wash is amazing!” – Lathan Durner
If you’re ready to make an oil change appointment, click here for convenient online booking. Or, just give us a call at 336-993-7697.