We love that old, and new clients alike want what’s best for the longevity of their vehicles, which is often why we get asked the question during a routine oil change: “What’s better, synthetic oil or conventional?”

We know there are quite a few variables to consider when determining what’s suitable for your car. There’s no perfect answer as the answer won’t be the same for every vehicle! That being said, let’s look at the differences between conventional and synthetic oil.

What’s the Difference?

Although both oils look indistinguishable, there’s a significant difference between their performance factors. But we’ll start with the most straightforward explanation; the names “conventional” and “synthetic” describe how the oil is made.

Conventional Oil: This type of oil (sometimes referred to as standard oil) is naturally derived. Once it is sourced, this crude mineral oil is partially refined, improving its protective properties.

Synthetic Oil: Unlike standard oil, synthetic oil says it all in the name. This type of oil is manufactured in a factory or lab using a controlled process. The standard put upon making this oil is high, meaning it’s far more refined. Because it has excellent engine protection, it usually tends to be a high-performing product.

Is an Oil Change Different Based on Type?

No. The mechanics are close to identical when it comes to the oil change service. The only discernable difference is the oil type. If you’re going from conventional oil to synthetic, your old oil will have to be flushed, and your car’s oil filter will need to be replaced. But, once you’ve made a change—so long as you stick with that type of oil—routine maintenance will be the same.

When Will You Need to Change Your Oil?

Although the service is similar, there is a big difference in the time you should take between oil changes depending on which type of oil you’re using. This is because one kind of oil breaks down and becomes dirtier quicker than the other. If your engine runs on conventional oil, you’re looking at a higher frequency oil change. Our mechanics suggest having your car serviced between every 3,000 to 5,000 miles. However, you should also factor in your personal driving habits and the oil quality.

The mileage between oil changes rises a bit when it comes to synthetic oil. Although the frequency of an oil change is less, don’t think that a more refined oil means you can get away with an oil change once a year if you’re driving daily. The rule of thumb is to get an oil change between 6,000 and 13,000 miles. Of course, remember to take your driving habits and the quality of synthetic into account here too.

Conventional Benefits

Conventional oil is the old workhorse of the two options. It has proven time and time again to have a reliable lubricant, but it does have its pitfalls. If you have an older vehicle, it’s likely you already use conventional oil, and although you might think a switch to synthetic is the right choice, that’s not always the case. Here’s a quick breakdown of the benefits:

  • More cost-effective
  • Probably what you’re already using
  • Better for aged engines

Synthetic Benefits

The number one benefit of synthetic oil is that it lasts longer. But, apart from that, there are some noticeable benefits when it comes to your vehicle’s performance.

  • Performs better in a broader temperature range
  • It keeps the engine cleaner
  • Can increase the life of your engine (with routine oil changes and engine maintenance)
  • Can withstand hotter engine temperatures for longer

Which is Right For You?

Ready to find out which oil is suitable for your new daily driver or older family car? Stay tuned. In our next blog post, we’ll dig deeper into which oil is the right choice for the longevity of your vehicle and the ease of maintenance for you.