One question that many car owners ask is: should I use synthetic oil or “regular” oil? Here are some ways to decide which kind of oil to use.
Oil and why it is needed:
Before discussing what kind of oil to use, it is important to understand why oil is needed in a car. This may be obvious to most, but it’s still worth touching on. Oil lubricates the engine. Without lubrication the engine will not be able to work its moving parts. It also reduces the friction in the engine. The oil also helps to regulate the engine’s temperature. Oil removes sludge throughout the engine. Without oil the engine will freeze up and not function.
Advantages of synthetic oil:
There are many advantages to using synthetic oil. Synthetic oil tends to last longer. So, even though it is a little more expensive, a car owner will get more use out of it – in that you can change your oil every 5,000 to 7,000 miles rather than every 2,000. Also, synthetic oil does not contain as many impurities. Therefore, it is better on the environment and does not leave much sludge on the engine. Synthetic oil tends to run better in hotter or colder weather. In a nutshell, the advantages of synthetic oil are:
- Increased engine wear protection.
- Wider temperature range.
- Longer oil life.
- For those who want the details, take a look at this article over at HowStuffWorks.com
Disadvantages of synthetic oil:
For many, the biggest disadvantage is the cost. A quart of fully synthetic oil may cost upwards of $6.00 to $10.00. Also, some pundits will argue that synthetic oil is not good for some engines. An older car may not be able to handle some forms of synthetic oil and it may cause the engine to leak oil. Some say that in some cars synthetic oil does not make a difference and the extra cost is not worth it.
Advantages of using regular motor oil:
Obviously cost is a big advantage. Everyone has a budget and for many their car is not something to which they devote a large portion of money. Also, there is the fact that for older cars often regular oil is better. The advantages of using regular oil can be summarized as:
- Lower cost per quart.
- Readily available – you can even find regular oil at grocery stores.
- Made of uneven molecules, and thus helps in smoothing the rough surfaces of a brand new engine quickly and effectively.
Disadvantages of regular motor oil:
Regular motor oil has a lot of disadvantages. It does not always work well in extreme temperatures. It also does not regulate the engine temperature as well. There are many contaminates in regular oil. Regular oil is not as environmentally friendly. It also does not last as long. Regular motor oil leaves more sludge on the engine. If a car’s engine is made specifically for synthetic oils, then using regular oil is not a good idea.
Motor Oil Blends:
There is one alternative. Many companies that make oil will blend synthetic and regular motor oil. For older cars, this reduces the chance of the synthetic oil causing oil leaks. The blended oil is also a little cheaper while offering a higher performance rate.
Much debate is made about wither synthetic oil is better. Ultimately it comes down to personal preference and circumstances. Always follow manufacture recommendations. If still unsure, try talking to a mechanic or an oil tech. Most importantly, always change motor oil when needed. An engine without out oil is not a functioning engine.