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Synthetic Vs. Conventional: Which Motor Oil Is Better?

The debate over which is better, synthetic or conventional motor oil, has not died down. In fact, this is one question we get asked at Heath’s Auto Service almost every day. Vehicle owners want what’s best for their car or truck, but is synthetic really better? It depends on several factors, and, frankly, conventional motor oil is still a reliable and economical choice.

Oil Differences

There are three types of motor oil from which you can choose: conventional, synthetic or a blend of both. Conventional motor oil is crude that has been refined after it’s been extracted from the ground. Synthetic motor oil is manufactured in a lab and often contains beneficial additives. A blend, obviously, is a combination of both oils.

Synthetic Advantages

Synthetic oil does outperform conventional oil in extreme temperatures, but we don’t live in Yuma or Phoenix. Flagstaff, Arizona summer temperatures usually remain below the 100-plus-degrees Fahrenheit temperatures our neighbors to the south experience, so conventional oil stands up just fine here.

That said, nothing beats synthetic oil’s ability to lubricate your engine parts cleanly. Conventional motor oil turns into sludge over time because it’s an organic material. Synthetic motor oil is manmade, so it doesn’t create the sludge traditional motor oil does. This increases your fuel economy and engine life.

Finally, as you’ve heard, synthetic motor oil does not need to be changed as often as conventional motor oil does, but there’s a caveat to that which we’ll discuss in further detail below. On average, you can expect to bring your vehicle in every 7,500 to 10,000 miles for an oil change if you select synthetic.

So, What’s the Caveat?

So how does conventional motor oil gain an edge over all of the above? Cost – plain and simple. You will pay twice as much (if not more) for synthetic motor oil, and if you do the math, you’ll realize that the extra mileage you get out of synthetic is eaten up in its extra cost.

If you change your conventional motor oil faithfully, it will perform nearly as well as synthetic does. That’s another caveat, however. You need to change your conventional motor oil every 3,000 miles, and if you are bad about doing so, you might do better with synthetic for added protection.

So, Which Motor Oil Should I Choose?

If you drive a newer vehicle and the manufacturer recommends synthetic oil, choose that one. If you drive an older vehicle that has always run well on conventional oil, save some dough and keep using the organic stuff. Really, it’s what the vehicle manufacturer recommends.

Still not sure? No problem. Stop by Heath’s Auto Repair in Flagstaff, AZ, and ask us. Better yet, set up an appointment for an oil change by calling 928-214-8150.

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