Almost all new engines are designed to run on synthetic oil.
To find out if your vehicle actually requires
it, just check your owner's manual. If the manufacturer specifies a synthetic
blend for your engine, you must use it, or upgrade to a full synthetic for even
more benefits. Don't make the mistake of downgrading to a conventional oil to
save money. You risk voiding your warranty and causing premature engine wear.
But what if
you're driving an older vehicle that was designed for conventional oil? Will
synthetic oil help your engine? And, is it worth the extra price? I'll walk you
through the service benefits of synthetic oil to help you determine whether
it's worth the extra cost.
simply no disagreement among professionals whether synthetic oil is a better
lubricant than conventional motor oil. It is—period.
It flows faster on cold engine start-up, getting lube to rotating parts and
building oil pressure faster than conventional oil. But you don't have to live
in the Arctic to enjoy the "cold flow" benefits of synthetic because
an engine is considered "cold" when it's less than 195 degrees F. So
it helps even if you live in Key West. On the flip side, synthetic oils are far
more resistant to "thermal breakdown" than conventional oil. That
means it performs better under high heat conditions and is less likely to
produce engine-killing sludge.
But is it
worth the extra cost for an older engine? If you're the type of driver who
changes your oil according to the manufacturer's recommendations, it's hard to
justify the added cost of synthetic oil. Conventional oil works just fine in
those applications. However, if you often exceed the recommended oil change
intervals, then synthetic oil is worth the price. It'll provide a "buffer zone
of protection" until you can get around to changing it. And that can mean
the difference between an engine that lasts 200,000 miles and one that dies at
summarize: If your vehicle manufacturer specifies synthetic oil, never
downgrade to conventional. If you own an older vehicle that doesn't require
synthetic and you religiously follow the manufacturer's recommended oil change
intervals, you won't get enough benefit from synthetic oil to justify the added
cost. Or, if you're nursing along an old car that burns (or leaks) lots of oil,
don't bother. However, if you're lax about oil changes, or you want to squeeze
all the life out of your engine and are willing to spend the extra money, fill
it with synthetic.
— Rick Muscoplat,
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