Synthetic vs. Conventional Oil: Making the Right Choice for Your Car

Choosing the right type of motor oil for your vehicle is crucial to ensure optimal engine performance and longevity. Although synthetic oil is often regarded as superior, conventional oil continues to be a popular choice due to its affordability and availability. But which one is best for your car.

Conventional Oil and Its Advantages

Conventional oil, which is made from refined crude oil, has been a primary lubricant for internal combustion engines since the late 1800s. It costs less than synthetic oil and is widely available, which is why it’s an attractive option, especially for older or worn-out engines. Conventional oil has a slightly slower flow that provides additional lubrication over time, which reduces the risk of gear-grinding in older engines. For brand-new cars that come with manufacturer-specific break-in oil, sticking with conventional oil initially allows the engine to continue running on the same lubricant it was built with.

Disadvantages of Conventional Oil

While conventional oil has some advantages, it’s more prone to degradation through oxidation. This can lead to issues that can be harmful to your engine, such as extreme heat, corrosion, sludge deposits, and particulate matter. In addition, conventional oil tends to thicken in cold temperatures, which impacts its ability to move through the engine and provide proper lubrication.

Synthetic Oil and Its Advantages

Synthetic oil, which has been available since 1929, offers superior performance and longevity compared to conventional oil. Its chemical stability and higher viscosity index make it longer-lasting and better suited for extreme temperatures. Synthetic oil is an ideal choice for high-performance vehicles because it allows for maximum engine efficiency and cleaner operation. It moves faster through the engine than conventional oil, which is very beneficial for turbocharged systems and contributes to a longer engine lifespan.

Disadvantages of Synthetic Oil

Synthetic oil does cost more than conventional oil, although you can often find a middle ground with synthetic blends. Synthetic oil also tends to separate when it’s stored in cold temperatures, and can potentially harm older engines, like rotary engines. Additionally, synthetic oil may not be ideal for breaking in new engines that require a little friction to smooth out rough areas.

Choosing the Right Oil for Your Car

The decision between synthetic and conventional oil depends on your budget, driving habits, and the specific needs of your vehicle. Although synthetic oil offers superior performance, better engine protection, and longer oil change intervals, conventional oil continues to be a cost-effective option that’s widely available. Both types of oil have their benefits and drawbacks, so it’s always best to follow your manufacturer’s recommendations.

If you’re not sure which type of oil to use or would like to make a switch, RPM Automotive Services is here to help! We can help you choose the best oil for your car based on your vehicle's requirements and your individual circumstances. With over 36 years of experience, we’ve been providing superior auto repair and maintenance services to our community. As a family-owned and operated facility with ASE Certified staff and the latest automotive tools, you can always trust that your vehicle is in expert hands.

Contact us today at (707) 800-4586 or request an appointment online.

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