Mechanic Tips

5 Key Differences Between Synthetic and Conventional Oil

When you are getting engine oil for your vehicle, you have two main options to consider. Either you can go for synthetic oil or stick to conventional oil. We often see how a lot of people struggle when they are trying to select out of these two. That’s why we will be sharing the differences between synthetic and conventional oil in this article. Based on the differences, you can decide what the right option for you is. 

What is Synthetic Oil?

Synthetic oil is chemically engineered in a laboratory setting. It is customised with specific molecules to enhance certain properties like wear protection and viscosity. Additives are blended to achieve high-performance standards. Common base stocks for full synthetic oil include polyalphaolefins and esters. The man-made production allows precise optimisation not found in conventional oils.

What is Conventional Oil?

Conventional oil is refined from crude oil that is pumped out of the ground. The refining process removes certain molecules and contaminants. What remains becomes the base oil. Additives are then included to improve viscosity, detergents, etc. Conventional motor oil has a more variable composition since it originates from a natural source.

Key differences between synthetic oil and conventional oil 

Now you have a basic idea of what these two types of engine lubrication oils are about. With that in mind, let’s deep dive into exploring their differences.

Oil Change Interval 

When you are using synthetic oil, you can extend your oil change intervals than conventional oil. That’s because of the synthetic oil properties. If you take a look at their composition, you will notice that they have a strong resistance to breakdown. Hence, you can continue to use synthetic oil for a longer time period. In other words, synthetic oil has to be replaced in every 10,000 to 12,000 kilometres of mileage. 

Conventional oil is experiencing more oxidation and viscosity breakdown as you continue to use it. As a result, you will have to change your oil once around every 5,000 to 6.000 kilometres. In other words, you can double the time interval between oil changes. Most people use this factor to decide between synthetic and conventional oil.  

Synthetic oil would also be ideal for high-performance engines. High output and high RPM generate more contaminants and byproducts. Synthetics manage byproducts better and keep engines cleaner. Specialised additives also control damaging deposits common in performance applications. 

High-temperature viscosity 

The lubricant technology behind synthetic oil is quite advanced. In other words, it can maintain viscosity properties and fluidity across a wide temperature change. In other words, this motor oil can even withstand extremely high heat. The complex formulation in synthetic oil prevents the molecules from breaking down. Hence, it will not flow freely during engine temperature spikes. 

For the same reason, synthetic oil is ideal for drivers who drive in areas with high temperatures. The oil viscosity will not degrade with time, and it will remain optimal. This can provide continuous shielding to important parts of your engine. Conventional oil is not in a position to provide such support. 

Cold weather flow 

Synthetic oil is ideal when you are driving in colder weather conditions as well. In other words, the unique synthetic blend makes it highly versatile for all driving conditions. Conventional oil usually thickens during colder weather conditions. In other words, conventional petroleum products would get more viscous when you drive in cold. As a result, you will have to deal with low oil pressure. It may even result in engine cranking when you try to start your car engine during the winter months.

The uniformity and purity of synthetic oil can help you to overcome this challenge. Even when the weather is extremely cold, it would provide an excellent flow. This will provide extra protection while enhancing engine performance. Therefore, you can overcome premature wear and tear of the engine effectively. 

Wear protection 

There’s a significant difference between synthetic and conventional oil when it comes to wear protection as well. To figure it out, you need to look at the lubricant composition. Synthetic oil comes with numerous synthetic additives. These additives are capable of creating a direct impact on viscosity grade. 

The synthetic additives are directly responsible for enhancing the wear protection of your engine. That’s because synthetic oil manufacturers are adding customised anti-wear additives. These additives would cling to the metal surfaces when oil thins out. Hence, you can expect your engine to be protected at all times. 

Synthetic oil molecules are capable of preventing metal scuffing and friction. Hence, you can minimise engine wear, especially when it is running at high RPM. By protecting the important components of your engine, you can overcome numerous engine problems in the long run with synthetic oil.

If you are driving your vehicle a lot, synthetic oil would be the better option to consider as well. After 75,000 to 100,000 miles, conventional oil often begins to show signs of breakdown. However, synthetic continues working. Switching to synthetic for older cars helps minimise wear as components already have some mileage.

Oxidation resistance 

There is a complex laboratory engineering process behind manufacturing synthetic oil. As a result, it is more resistant to thermal and chemical breakdowns that oxidation can create. Regular conventional oil has a uniform structure. It also contains numerous impurities. As a result, synthetic oil will tend to react rapidly during harsh environments inside the engine. This will create unwanted changes along with time. Sludge production, increased acidity, and thickening are few such problems.

Viscosity increase will not be the only major issue that you will have to deal with here. Acidic contaminants can accelerate metal corrosion. Fortunately, synthetic oil can help you to overcome this problem. That’s because synthetic oils are oxidation-stable. They will not experience any property or structural changes during normal use cycles. You just need to go ahead with regular oil changes. With that, you can maintain the overall stability of synthetic oil and let it do the job.

Potential Drawbacks of Synthetic Oil

As you can see, synthetic oil appears to be the best option overall to consider. However, there are some drawbacks associated with synthetic oil as well. Here are some of the potential drawbacks that synthetic oil has. 

  • Higher cost

Synthetics cost 2 to 3 times more per quart compared to conventional. This makes oil changes more expensive. However, longer change intervals offset some expenses.

  • Not ideal for brand-new engines

Some experts recommend conventional oil for initial break-in periods. This allows proper mating of internal surfaces as components wear in those first 1000 miles. After break-in, synthetics are recommended.

  • Seal compatibility 

In older engines, synthetic may initially cause small leaks. However, these typically stop after an adjustment period. Check external seals if shifting from conventional to synthetic in higher mileage vehicles.

Making the Best Choice

For many drivers, synthetic is the best choice thanks to enhanced properties. But it also costs more. Conventional oil works well for basic transportation needs. Those pushing their cars in harsh conditions or wanting extended protection to find the benefits of synthetic are worth the extra investment. Be sure to follow manufacturer specifications for proper selection. Understanding differences allows choosing what is right for your vehicle.

No matter what engine oil you use, it is important to stick to appropriate oil change intervals. This is where you need to get the help of an expert mechanic. If you are from North Brisbane, SNC Automotive can help you with it. Feel free to get in touch with the expert mechanics and go for your oil change today. It will provide maximum protection to your engine and offer you a hassle-free drive on the road. 

this page: