When you think of engine oil, you probably assume all oil is made of petroleum. That applies to conventional motor oil; however, synthetic motor oil is not made from petroleum, but is synthesized from sources such as atmospheric carbon dioxide, methane gas, and carbon monoxide, as well as other things.
Synthetic oil is not new; it first came on the scene in 1929. During the energy crisis of the 1970s, there was a huge drive to better fuel economy by improving synthetic oils. Synthetic oils have also come to the forefront with the technological developments accompanying high-performance vehicles.
The Pros and Cons of Synthetic Motor Oil
The biggest downside to using synthetic motor oil in your vehicle is the expense; synthetic can cost as must as three times as much as conventional motor oil. However, synthetic oil lasts much longer; in fact, you may be able to drive twice as far between oil changes with synthetic, and that may save you money in the end. Synthetic oil contains very few impurities such as wax or sulfur, and thus, is less likely to oxidize. That means it will last longer.
One downside to synthetic oil lasting longer between oil changes, is a car owner may check under the hood less often. This could lead to neglect, and undetected problems.
Conventional engine oils break down, leaving deposits inside the engine, which can lead to wear and poor performance.
Synthetic oil can also dissolve engine deposits left by oxidized and contaminated conventional motor oil. This results in a cleaner and longer-lasting engine.
Synthetic motor oil has a more uniform molecular structure, which means the flow and viscosity is more uniform. This means more fuel efficiency and greater engine power.
Synthetic oils often have additional lubricants increasing the ability to perform higher temperatures. This will decrease engine wear, and may increase your engine’s life.
Synthetic oil should not be used for many brand new vehicles. (Check your owner’s manual for the type of oil you should use.) New vehicles need to get broken in; the friction caused by petroleum-based oils smooth the internal parts of the engine, so it will run properly. Using synthetic oils immediately in a brand new vehicle could cause it to not run properly.
Some special types of engines, such as a rotary engine, cannot use synthetic motor oil. Review your car manufacturer’s specifications or consult your mechanic if in doubt.
Synthetic oil has a better flow, and therefore, worn oil seals may leak. However, switching to synthetic motor oil rarely causes a problem in a well-maintained engine.
In the final conclusion, there’s no reason not to consider using synthetic oil in your vehicles. However, if your vehicle hasn’t been well-maintained or you don’t have money, continuing with conventional motor oil may be a better choice.