Synthetic vs Conventional Oil: What’s the Difference?

August 22nd, 2023 by

It’s well understood that one of the best things you can do to protect your car is to change the motor oil regularly. Oil lubricates engine components, protecting against friction as parts rub against each other. But what kind of oil is best for your car?

To answer that question, you should understand the differences and similarities between the two types of oil: synthetic and conventional. Depending on which car you drive and your driving habits, one might be better for your vehicle than the other. In addition to limiting friction, motor oil helps reduce corrosion, improve engine sealing, and potentially decrease fuel consumption.

Our service team at Performance Honda, serving Fairfield and Cincinnati, Ohio, is well-equipped to help you grasp the differences. Gaining that understanding will ground in you making an informed decision that will result in a longer-lasting engine, greater fuel efficiency, and better performance.

The Basics of Engine Oil

oil dripping out of a green can

Any discussion of synthetic vs. conventional oil starts with understanding their origins. As the name suggests, synthetic oil is artificial, manufactured in a laboratory from a mixture of base chemicals and carefully selected additives. This mixture results in a high-performance motor oil explicitly designed to deliver outstanding lubrication performance and resistance to the forces that cause oil to break down. The base and additives also protect the engine from high and low temperatures and other types of wear and tear. Engineers make synthetic oil intending to solve specific challenges in vehicles.

Conventional oil originates from natural crude oil drilled underground. The motor oil you see on store shelves is more like mineral oil and is considered naturally occurring. Because it’s a natural compound, conventional motor oil can contain certain impurities that interfere with your car’s performance. Not every drop of traditional oil has the same structure, which results in varying results.

Sometimes those impurities can cause problems in extreme weather. Different cars respond better to one type of oil than another. Our team at Performance Honda in Fairfield can work with you to suggest the right type for your vehicle.

Advantages of Synthetic Motor Oil

Synthetic motor oil is made to serve a purpose. Chemists and engineers base their work on developing increasingly better synthetic oils on the various problems facing today’s drivers. Traditional motor oil can be uneven in its performance. For instance, you might get better or worse lubrication depending on the impurities in a bottle of conventional motor oil.

Scientists counter this by developing formulations of synthetic oil that take longer before showing signs of breakdown or provide better protection against friction and wear and tear. Some of today’s higher-performance vehicles require synthetic oil.

Advantages of Traditional Motor Oil

So, why would a driver use traditional motor oil if the synthetic or synthetic blend is, on its face, superior? Budget considerations are always noteworthy since conventional motor oil is slightly less expensive. Compatibility is another challenge: cars from 10 or more years ago may perform better when fed with traditional rather than synthetic motor oil. Conventional motor oil is also easier to understand for the average driver and is more available than the best synthetic competitors.

Choosing the Right Oil for Your Car

Every situation is different when choosing the right motor oil for your car. Here are some of the factors to consider:

What Car Do You Drive?

The science around motor oil keeps evolving. In general, newer cars perform better with synthetic oil as engineers often build the engine and design the oil to work together. Also partial to synthetic oil are high-performance sports cars. Conventional oil may still work best for older cars.

How and Where You Drive

If you live in high- or cold-temperature climates, your vehicle will appreciate synthetic oils’ higher-performance lubrication and breakdown resistance. The same applies to drivers who start and stop frequently or tow heavy loads. Conventional oil is suitable if you don’t drive as much or don’t put your car through many acceleration cycles.

What Does the Manufacturer Recommend?

While the car’s engineers don’t necessarily have all the answers, they’re a good start. Review the owner’s manual in your vehicle for recommendations on which oil to use. You may find that some cars require synthetic motor oil to sustain the warranty.

How Big Is Your Budget?

Generally speaking, you have to pay more to ask for synthetic oil during your oil change. But over the life of the car, it may be worth it. Synthetic oil may allow you to drive longer periods between oil changes at Performance Honda or your favorite service station.

So you may be spending more on oil but less on the cost of changing it. The question then becomes one of numbers. Fewer oil changes also benefit the environment with less waste, a factor to consider if you’re environmentally aware. According to an article published by Mobil, some synthetic blends will allow drivers to go 20,000 miles between oil changes. A more typical interval would be between 3,000 and 5,000 miles.

Trust the Team at Performance Honda

Ultimately, only you and your trusted service technician can make the call. Let experienced professionals in our oil change center at Performance Honda of Fairfield, Ohio, help you decide on the right motor oil. Follow their advice diligently, as it will help you keep your car on the road longer and ultimately cost you less.

Our service technicians can help with more than oil changes. Whether it’s time for new brakes or tires, the windshield wipers need replacing, or the battery needs a charge, Performance Honda is there for you. Our team is Honda-certified, but our experience applies to all makes and models. Consider our Honda Service Pass for even more value.

Performance Honda is a full-service dealership offering new Honda vehicles, a wide selection of used cars from all manufacturers, and support for financing. You can reach us easily from Dayton, Hamilton, Middleton, Monroe, and more, and our convenient location on Route 4 makes us even more accessible. Call us or reach out for an appointment, and our team will be happy to assist you.

green lubricant? by Kevin Rheese is licensed with CC BY 2.0

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