Does expensive synthetic motor oil pay off in the long run?

Consumer Reports News: August 10, 2012 10:08 AM

We noticed an interesting tidbit during research for our story on how to make your car last 200,000 miles. While reaching out to respondents to our Annual Auto Survey for tips and scouring our car forums, we found that many readers said they use synthetic motor oil exclusively in their keeper cars. And keep them they do, with many reporting accumulated miles far exceeding 200,000.

Of course, many other readers report similar longevity from their vehicles with conventional motor oil. The key is to stick with regular oil changes as stipulated in their owner's manual or service when called for based on an in-car indicator (aka service minder), a function that is increasingly common through the wonders of technology.

Synthetic motor oil costs more than the conventional stuff, but the less frequent oil changes that you get with synthetics can offset the cost. And do-it-yourselfers point out that buying in bulk can further the savings. Synthetic is said to stand up better to higher temperatures, thus reducing engine wear. (See our guide to car maintenance.)

We've heard from drivers on both sides of this slippery coin. But regardless of what oil you choose, stick to the maintenance schedule in your car's manual, and the odds are good it'll stick with you for 200,000 miles and beyond.

For more detailed advice, and a list of recommended cars, see our complete report on how to make your car last 200,000 miles.

If you're already a member of the 200,000-mile club, we'd love to hear from you with your own tips. Post in the comments below, or check out our free 200,000-mile club forum.

Jim Travers

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