Is Synthetic Oil Worth It?
Your car and your body have a lot in common: how you take care of each counts for a lot. The quality of the oil you use in your car is very important. It makes sense that full synthetic oil might be on your radar, especially if your mechanic has recommended it as a better alternative to the conventional oil you’re more familiar with.
However, full synthetic oil isn’t just different. It’s also more expensive. Is full synthetic oil worth it? What is it really, how does it stack up in comparison to the alternatives, and what are the main reasons to consider making the switch? The following will address the answers to those questions and more.
What Is Synthetic Oil?
Full synthetic oil, compared to traditional motor oil, is exactly what it sounds like. It consists entirely of synthetic compounds. To be more specific, it consists of a base oil that is fortified with beneficial powder compounds and then blended with a carrier oil to ensure an even, homogenous composition.
Conventional motor oil is usually mineral based. However, you may also be familiar with synthetic blend oils, as they’ve been around for quite some time as well. Keeping your car’s engine well-lubricated with clean, good quality oil is an essential part of keeping it in good working order for many years to come.
How Much Does Synthetic Oil Cost?
One of the main reasons people are hesitant to just jump right into the switch is the typical synthetic oil change price. Fully synthetic oil can cost more than the conventional options most people are used to. In some cases, synthetic oil may even cost up to triple the cost of an organic or semi-organic oil, particularly at an oil change service center.
How much is a full synthetic oil change as compared to the usual treatment? A standard oil change using typical mineral-based motor oil will usually set you back about $25-50 depending on your vehicle and the mechanic you go to. Upgrading that same oil change service to include full synthetic oil will cost around $45-100 instead.
Of course, there are additional factors that should be considered as well. To begin with, synthetic oil doesn’t actually have to be changed as often as conventional oils, so you can safely extend the amount of time you take in between visits to the mechanic. There are also the possible performance changes to consider.
What Are the Main Benefits of Synthetic Oil?
Now that you know what synthetic oil is, it’s time to consider the possible benefits. The following are among the most important reasons why your mechanic has probably been offering synthetic options.
Longer Vehicle Life Span
The whole point of staying on top of tune-ups, maintenance visits, and oil changes is to extend the life of your vehicle, right? Well, going full synthetic may be one of the better ways to make sure that really happens. This is especially the case if you use your vehicle the way most people do – to make multiple short daily trips to work, to the store, to pick up your kids from school, and so forth.
Synthetic oil warms up enough during such trips to get rid of the dirt and impurities it's supposed to, while traditional organic oils sometimes don't. Synthetics are a lot more molecularly stable, so they don't deteriorate as quickly either. This allows them to offer your engine better, more thorough protection under extreme conditions. These include very high or low weather temperatures, as well as instances where you may be towing or carrying heavy loads.
If your mechanic has been trying to sell you on the benefits of synthetics, he's probably mentioned the difference in sludge build-up a time or two. Sludge is that nasty, scummy cocktail of paraffin, carbon, debris, and other miscellaneous compounds that eventually accumulates inside your engine. While sludge build-up is definitely not good for any engine, it can be especially bad for older engines that have been around the block a time or two.
Engines that are 10-20 years old or more aren't quite as good at managing that icky, sludgy residue as they might have been when they were brand new. Traditional mineral-based motor oils tend to generate much more of this nasty build-up more quickly than full synthetic oils. That said, making the switch is going to give your engine the best possible chance at a nice, long life.
Fewer Oil Changes
You really won't have to change your oil as often if you make the switch to synthetic, which may be the most common reason people eventually take the plunge. A standard batch of traditional oil should be changed about every 3,000 miles. However, even the lowest-quality synthetic oil can last a good 5,000 miles before you have to think about a change. Some brands can last between 15,000 and 25,000 miles between oil changes, so that's really quite the difference. Keep in mind, you should always heed your manufacturer's recommended change intervals first and foremost.
Is Synthetic Right for You?
So is full synthetic oil worth it? If the recommendations of top auto manufacturers, mechanics, and other automotive experts mean anything to you, then yes. Making the switch is absolutely worth it, especially in the long run. Yes, you’ll pay more for the cost of the oil itself, but you’ll save in time and expense over the long haul. Your vehicles will not only run better, but they’ll last longer. Plus, you won’t have to worry about oil changes nearly as often, so it’s a convenient choice as well.
Some upgrades to the products you trust your vehicle to are truly worth it in the long run, and full synthetic oils – especially toward the higher end of the spectrum – are definitely worth it. Make the switch today and experience the difference firsthand.