When you walk into the quick oil change shop or into the shop of your local mechanic, you’d probably be asked if you want synthetic or conventional oil. Your first thought may be that synthetic oil is too expensive –– two to four times as costly as conventional oil — but there are valid reasons to consider paying that extra money for synthetic oil.

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ServiceNearMe.com discusses the differences between synthetic and conventional motor oil and which is better for your car.

Synthetic vs Conventional Motor Oil

While conventional or standard motor oil is refined from the crude oil that occurs in nature, synthetic motor oil is developed entirely from chemical compounds. It may start as a conventional oil base which is then chemically altered or enhanced. Some auto manufacturers specify the use of synthetic motor oil only in their cars. The reason for this is the advantages that synthetic oil has over conventional oil.

Here are 4 advantages:

  1. Synthetic oil resists breakdowns which makes it last longer than conventional motor oil.
  2. Added lubricants keep engine parts slick and running smoothly, reducing wear and tear, particularly in high temperatures and in startups during very cold weather.
  3. Synthetic oil withstands extreme heat and cold.
  4. Synthetic lasts longer than conventional motor oil.

Although you’ll probably not notice the change in the performance of your automobile immediately after the oil change, you’ll soon find that synthetic oil is more durable because it takes longer to break down than conventional oil. Thus, it require less frequent oil changes.

According to most car manufacturers, conventional oil should be changed every 3,000 to 5,000 miles. In contrast, car owners who use synthetic motor oils can reduce the frequency of oil changes to once every 7,500 miles, and even longer on some makes and models.

Certain Drivers Benefit by Using Synthetic Oil

Even with less frequent oil changes, car owners may prefer to use the less expensive conventional oil if their owner’s manual does not specifically state that they must use synthetic. Decide whether the advantages of using synthetic motor oil is worth the price by considering your driving style and needs, the climate in which you live, and how long you plan to keep your automobile for.

Drivers who make a lot of short trips with frequent stops risk their engine never getting hot enough to burn off impurities, accelerating the breakdown of conventional motor oil. The same is true for drivers who use their vehicles to tow or haul heavy objects. Car owners who live in regions with extreme temperatures, either very hot summers or very cold winters, should consider using synthetic motor oil because it resists the extremes in temperature without breaking down as quickly.

Synthetic oils are thinner and generally have added lubricants which keep engine parts running smoothly, reducing the wear and tear on the engine. You will, therefore, get more mileage out of an automobile that uses synthetic oil. So, if you plan to keep your car for a number of years, synthetic motor oil should increase the life of the engine.


Sludge is a sticky, gooey deposit formed when engine oil, after prolonged exposure to high temperatures and extremely cold temperatures, oxidizes and breaks down. Over time, these deposits block oil passages, which can result in extensive damage to car engines, requiring costly repairs or even engine replacement. Sludge can be caused by not changing the motor oil often enough, but some car engines have been found to be more susceptible to the buildup of sludge.

Some Chrysler, Toyota, Lexus, and Dodge automobiles manufactured between the years 1998 and 2003 have had many complaints and even settled class action suits involving problems with engines due to the buildup of sludge.
Drivers who own vehicles that fall into these categories should consider using only synthetic motor oil, to help prevent the buildup of sludge that can damage or destroy their car engines.

Cost of Synthetic Oil vs Conventional Oil

There is no doubt that synthetic oil can be pricey, as compared to conventional oil. The cost of an oil change with conventional oil will average around $25, while an oil change with blended synthetic oil will cost around $45. Full synthetic oil can easily cost around $75. However, synthetic oil breaks down at a much slower rate than conventional oil. Therefore, it will last two to three times longer than conventional oil before needing to be changed.

Consider the Environment

Synthetic oil is generally thought to be more eco-friendly than conventional oil because it is made chemically and, therefore, does not have to be extracted from the earth. Another reason why synthetic oil is better for the environment is that it does not need as many oil changes. A car that uses conventional oil will require approximately five oil changes per year for the average driver. That means 25 to 30 quarts (6 ¼ to 7 ½ gallons) of used oil must be discarded annually. That same car, using synthetic oil, would only require an oil change twice per year, reducing the amount of used oil that must be discarded to 10-12 quarts (2 ½ to 3 gallons) annually.

Price Advantage of Conventional Oil

There are a few advantages to using conventional motor oil. For one, it is easily accessible and costs less than synthetic motor oil. For drivers who trade their cars frequently and, therefore, are less interested in extending the miles that they can get on their engine, conventional motor oil can be the less expensive way to go, as long as their owner’s manual does not specify that they must use synthetic oil.

In Summary

For the majority of drivers, though, full synthetic oil or blended synthetics offer many advantages over conventional oil. The cost of synthetic oil may be two to four times more than conventional oil but bear in mind that synthetic oils give you greater mileage and increase the life of your automobile. If you choose to hang on to your car rather than trade it in every few years, the higher immediate cost of choosing synthetic oil over conventional oil is pretty much a wash in the long run.

Finally, synthetic oil is more eco-friendly than conventional oil because it is kinder to the earth, lasts longer and improves fuel economy. When it’s time for an oil change, remember to search on ServiceNearMe.com for a local oil change shop near you.

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