Product Reviews
Take Action
Back
SIGN THE PETITION

Tell Congress: Protect Our Healthcare

We need healthcare that ensures comprehensive, affordable coverage for all consumers. Tell Congress to vote no on repealing our healthcare protections without providing a real replacement plan.
Take Action
Why Do We Have Campaigns?
We're fighting to ensure you and your family can get a fair deal in the marketplace, especially on the choices that matter most: health care, privacy, automobiles, food, finances and more. Join our campaigns and together, we'll hold corporations and lawmakers accountable.
TECH TALK

When should you consider synthetic oil?

Although more costly, synthetic has its advantages

Published: July 08, 2015 08:00 AM

Many automakers require owners to use synthetic motor oil in their cars’ engines. This is because synthetic oil has some advantages over conventional motor oil. It’s designed to be more effective at:

  • Resisting break-down, and thus lasts longer than mineral oil
  • Withstanding high temperatures
  • Flowing in cold temperatures, thus reducing engine wear during frigid startups.

However, synthetic motor oil can cost two to four times as much as regular oil. So unless your owner's manual specifies synthetic, you don’t need it. But Consumer Reports’ chief mechanic says there are some situations where synthetic oil’s resistance to breakdown can help prolong the life of an engine.

If you make lots of short trips, standard motor oil may never get warm enough to burn off moisture and impurities. That could hasten the breakdown of conventional oil. Also, if you live in a region with very cold winters or very hot summers, or if you use your vehicle for towing or hauling heavy material, synthetic oil won’t break down as quickly. While synthetic generally holds up better and can serve for more miles, it is important to not extend oil changes beyond the time interval recommended by the manufacturer—typically six months or a year.

Another good use for synthetic oil is as a salve for older engines prone to sludge buildup. This gunky residue can block oil passages and lead to a quick death of an engine. In the early 2000s, several engines from Chrysler, Toyota, and Volkswagen, among others, were especially prone to sludge buildup. This sludge forms when oil breaks down. Synthetic oil would be beneficial in those engines, as it is less likely to form troublesome sludge.

Using synthetic in these situations will prolong your oil life and require fewer changes. That’s a major benefit to the environment, as used motor oil is a major source of toxic waste in water. Your pocketbook will also thank you.

For more insights, read our special report on excessive oil consumption.

Share your experiences in the comments below.

Eric Evarts

Comment via Facebook


Know the fair price for your car repair

Auto Repair Estimates

E-mail Newsletters

FREE e-mail Newsletters! Choose from cars, safety, health, and more!
Already signed-up?
Manage your newsletters here too.

Car Maintenance News

Cars

Cars Build & Buy Car Buying Service
Save thousands off MSRP with upfront dealer pricing information and a transparent car buying experience.

See your savings

Mobile

Mobile Get Ratings on the go and compare
while you shop

Learn more