Synthetic Oil—Is It Worth It?
If you’re buying parts and supplies for your next oil change or scheduling your next maintenance service, you might be debating whether to choose conventional oil or synthetic oil. But what exactly is synthetic oil and do you need it? Is it worth switching to synthetic oil?
The Difference between Conventional and Synthetic Oil
Conventional oil, also called mineral oil, is refined from underground petroleum deposits, the fermented remains of bacterial mats laid down eons ago. (It doesn’t actually come from dinosaurs. Sorry, kids.) Conventional oil is basically boiled out from its crude oil base and separated according to viscosity—generally speaking, by the length of its hydrocarbon chains.
On the other hand, synthetic oil is made from other chemical bases, such as methane and carbon dioxide. Synthetic oil is fine-tuned and more uniform, chemically speaking, than conventional oil. Synthetic oil isn’t all that new of a product, having first been developed in the mid-1930s.
Synthetic Oil Pros and Cons
Because of the way it is processed, synthetic oil has certain advantages over conventional oil.
- Pure Stocks – Because it is synthesized from pure chemical bases, synthetic oil has no impurities that might affect its performance and longevity. The waxes and sulphur in conventional oil oxidize in the engine, but synthetic has none of these.
- Tuned Performance – A more uniform chemical structure means that every batch of synthetic can be precisely tuned. In high-power or high-efficiency applications, synthetic oil delivers.
- Cleansing Power – Because synthetic oil is so pure, it cleans deposits left by the impurities in conventional oil. This results in better oil flow and lubrication.
- Lifespan – Synthetic oil typically lasts longer in an engine than does conventional oil, which means you can likely increase the oil change interval.
Still, there are some disadvantages, especially if you’re switching to synthetic from conventional.
- Cost – This is the usual concern when switching to synthetic, but it’s to be expected considering how the oil is made.
- Oil Leaks – Because synthetic cleans so well, it may uncover leaks previously plugged by oil deposits.
Synthetic Oil Myths
Only new cars need synthetic oil – No matter what you drive, synthetic can deliver better engine performance, fuel economy, and longevity.
You can’t switch back to conventional – While synthetic is better for your engine, if as the viscosity is the same, you can switch back and forth without a problem. Some oil weights simply aren’t available in conventional format, though, like this ENEOS 0W-16 motor oil.
As you can see, synthetic oil isn’t much of a mystery, and its long history proves it is a highly reliable, quality replacement for conventional oil in all kinds of engines, big or small. Considering the benefits it offers, switching to synthetic oil is a no-brainer.
Check out the oil change services available at any of our 600 NAPA AUTOPRO locations for your car routine maintenance and repairs. For more information on synthetic oil, chat with an expert at your local NAPA AUTOPRO service centre.