Is Synthetic Oil Better for Your Car?

There’s a lot of myths and confusion surrounding synthetic oil and the effects it can (or supposedly does) have on your vehicle. You’re constantly hearing rumors that switching to synthetic is a permanent switch and that it can suddenly cause catastrophic failure within your automobile. For the uneducated buyer, these can act as a deterrent from what may be a great purchasing decision. Read on to learn more about synthetic oil and hopefully dispel some of the confusion about it.

What is Synthetic Oil?

Synthetic oil is oil created in a lab rather than ripped from the depths of Earth. Synthetic oil was first developed for combustible engines by AMSOIL, Inc., a company created by Lieutenant Colonel Albert J. Amatuzio, in 1972. Lt. Amatuzio noticed that synthetic lubricants in jet engines were able to withstand rigorous operation and extreme temperatures without significant chemical break down, resulting in smoother engine operation and less maintenance, and began researching how to use similar technology for conventional combustible automobile engines. Synthetic oil provides the same benefits as it did for jet planes; enabling longer times between oil changes, more stable chemical qualities, and smoother and consistent lubricant among other benefits.

Should You Use Synthetic Oil in Your Car?

Unfortunately, the answer to this question is a little less cut and dry. It largely depends on the age, mileage, and manufacture’s recommendations. Older vehicles, and especially with high mileage, tend to have more wear and tear on them, and due to the thinner consistency of synthetic oil, oil leaks are quite common. Even for newer vehicles, beyond 1996, with high mileage can suffer due to the thin consistency and free-flowing nature and can often result in internal oil combustion. For situations like this, it’s best to either stick to conventional oil or blends. However, if you have a new vehicle with little mileage on it, synthetic oil can be a true blessing. Again, due to its physical qualities and stable chemical formula, it lasts longer than both blends and conventional oil, which means less oil changes. In addition, it flows easy in cold weather, so you don’t suffer a loss of prime when the oil is cold. The major drawback to synthetic oil tends to be its pricing, however.

Is It True that Once You Switch to Synthetic Oil, You Can’t Use Anything Else?

It’s unclear where this rumor started, but it is undoubtedly untrue. You can change to any oil at any time, as long you are wary of the conditions listed above (mileage, age, manufacturer recommendations). Switching to synthetic oil can indeed increase the longevity of your engine by allowing it to run smoother, but it will in no way damage your engine to switch around. If this was the case, synthetic blends wouldn’t exist. Synthetic blends are combinations of synthetic oil mixed with the traditional fossil-based mineral oil we’ve grown used to.

Does it Work Better in Certain Cars?

Just like before, this largely depends on the car’s age, mileage, and recommendations. Some manufacturers recommend using specific brands or types of oils, in these cases it’s best to follow what they’ve set for your car. Going outside of the recommendations of your vehicle’s maker could put your engine to unnecessary risks. Most cars could stand to benefit from synthetic oil; however, it’s not a guarantee. So, the answer is a tentative yes; in some cases it does, but this isn’t always the case, and all warnings and consultations should be kept in mind when choosing the right oil for your car.

Bearing in mind the warnings above, synthetic oil is far more benign than myths would have you believe. It is entirely possible that synthetic oil could greatly benefit your car’s longevity and keep it running smoother, with the benefit of saving you some money on oil-changes (unless you do them yourself). Despite the higher upfront cost, it may end up saving you more money than costs on changes and potential repair bills. However, if you’re not careful, it could be the thing that destroys your engine. As with most things, always make sure you know what you’re getting into before committing and make sure that it’s the right fit for you.