The subject of motor oil for your car may seem simple and straightforward, but it’s really anything but. Oil is critical to keep your car’s engine working properly and for extending the vehicle’s life. If you look on the shelf at the auto parts store however, you will see dozens of different oils for numerous uses, with different viscosities and various chemical compositions. So which one is right for you? Start with checking your owner’s manual to verify the recommended type and viscosity of oil for your vehicle.
Traditional or Conventional Motor Oil
Regular or non-synthetic oil is the product we all grew up with. It is readily available and generally less expensive than synthetic oil products. Traditional motor oil is synthesized from crude oil. For many newer vehicles, it should provide a sufficient level of lubrication and is in fact recommended by many experts as the best type of oil for breaking in a new motor. The down side of traditional motor oil is the amount of environmental pollutants it emits.
Synthetic Motor Oil
Synthetic oil is often hailed as a kind of modern miracle. Although synthetic does have many advantages, it has a few drawbacks also. Synthetics will make your car operate more efficiently, use less gas, and possibly even gain horsepower. Synthetics are significantly better at high temperatures and won’t become too viscous in the cold either. Synthetic oil change frequency is much less than conventional products. The biggest drawback is the cost of synthetic oil, which is definitely more than conventional products, typically two to three times more. You can switch to synthetic oil at any point in a car’s life and, despite urban myths to the contrary, you can switch back to traditional motor oil at any time without harming the vehicle.
Synthetic Blend Motor Oil
A best of both worlds, synthetic blend oils add a portion of synthetic oil to the organic product. This blend is intended for use with higher temperatures and heavier loads, popular with those who drive SUVs and pickup trucks carrying loads or towing. These products evaporate less which reduces the amount of oil burned and increases fuel economy. The cost of synthetic blend oils is actually closer to conventional oil.
When it’s time for your next oil change, talk with your mechanic about which oil might be most appropriate for your vehicle. Changing to synthetic oil will cost you a little more, but the extended life of your engine may make it worthwhile. You will also save money thanks to the reduced synthetic oil change frequency.