Synthetic Oil vs. Conventional Oil –Which One is Better for Your Car?
It is widely understood that your car needs lubricant to slow down wear and tear, improve performance, and keep everything running like clockwork. Most drivers have a choice between two main fluids – synthetic oil and conventional oil. The distinction can be a tad bit confusing for beginners to get into, but we’ll give the long and short of it here – synthetic oil is superior to conventional oil.
But what makes synthetic oil better than conventional oil? Let’s try to find out.
How Synthetic Oil is Made
Most people erroneously believe that synthetic oil is not a product of fossil fuels or crude oil. They think if everyone switched to synthetic oil, we’d wean off of fossil fuels and save the planet from green warming. It’s a common misconception.
While conventional and synthetic oils differ in how they’re manufactured and their overall ‘engine-friendliness’, they’re both derived from fossil fuels or crude oils. But, as we’ll demonstrate below, they are vastly different.
Car engine oil, whether synthetic or conventional, is derived from two components:
- Base oils
Base oils are used to remove heat, minimize friction, and slowing down wear and tear. Chemical additives are utilized to maximize performance. Additives resist chemical breakdown, provide protection against wear and tear, neutralize acids, and much more – it all depends on the formula of the oil and its intended purpose
To answer our question, “what makes synthetic oil better than conventional oil?” let’s discuss a few key things about base oils.
Base oils are derived from crude oil through distillation, a well-known practice in engineering. Other side products from crude oil distillation include petroleum, jet fuel, heating oil, diesel fuel – and hundreds of other goods. Base oils derived through distillation are usually a mishmash of lots of impurities and harmful chemicals – all of which make it into the final formula for conventional oils.
Distillation doesn’t do a thorough job of isolating base oils because the end product contains many different molecules that are detrimental to a vehicle’s performance. As a result, motor oil performance goes downhill.
Synthetic Oils Are Manufacture Differently
Synthetic base oils are not distilled, instead, they are chemically synthesized in refiners.
Crude oil is broken down to a molecular level using several chemical reactions. Then, uniform molecules are separated from the mixture and synthetic base oil is made from scratch. What results is a pure base oil that doesn’t contain any impurities that are typically found in distilled crude oil fractions.
So is Synthetic Oil Better?
If the above explanation sounds a bit confusing, let’s give a watered-down explanation here: synthetic oil is better.
Reason? Synthetic oil is made using extremely pure chemicals with very little chance of contamination from unwanted chemicals. As such, synthetic oils give benefits that conventional oils can never match. It makes sense if you think about it. If you manufacture anything with pure components, you will get an end product that not only delivers better performance but also lasts much longer. This rule of thumb applies to just about anything in life, including smartphones, clothes, engines – you name it.
Almost all Huntsville car dealerships will recommend choosing synthetic oil.
The Research Proves Synthetic Oils Are Superior
Don’t believe us? Let’s look at what the experts have to say.
The American Automobile Association (AAA) did a test to find out if synthetic oils are worth the extra effort. Note: they’re not discussing if synthetic oils are better, they’re finding out if the extra performance is worth the extra price.
Here’s what their tests found:
- Synthetic oils slowed down the rate of wear and tear to engine components
- As a result, synthetic engine oils did nearly 50% better than conventional motor oils. This is why most Huntsville car dealerships recommend using synthetic oils.
- Synthetic oils were particularly beneficial to turbocharged engines and vehicles that operate in unfavorable temperatures and conditions, and heavy traffic. This also applies to newer vehicles like the 2020 Cadillac Escalade.
These conditions apply to almost all vehicles on the road today.
Discussing the Advantages of Synthetic Oil
Now that we’ve established that synthetic oils outperform conventional oil, let’s discuss a few major benefits you’ll notice after making the switch to synthetic oils.
Better Engine Protection
By far the best benefit you’ll get is less wear and tear to your car’s engine. Conventional oil has far too many impurities that can cause damage to your car and eventually cause it to fail. Synthetic oil forms a superior fluid to keep metal components from rubbing against one another. It offers higher resistance to viscosity and heat loss, two features that automatically provide better performance.
Think of the high repair and maintenance costs you’re saving in the long run by switching to synthetic oils.
Superior Performance in Colder Temperatures
When the temperature drops, and it will drop, the motor oil in the engine begins to thicken. This impedes movement and makes the engine oil extremely inefficient. This makes your engine vulnerable to wear and tear for a short time – it’s usually enough to cause long-term damage to the engine.
Another concern is the fact that most conventional oils contain waxes – they are prone to getting thick in the cold.
Synthetic oils are free of waxes, which means they are more likely to retain their fluidity even when the temperature drops down. This allows synthetic oils to reach vital areas of the engine faster, providing immediate relief to engine components.
The bottom line is: synthetic oils provide improved protection in the cold weather.
Improved Protection in High Temperatures
This is a more prominent problem because engines tend to run hot, either due to overuse or because of the temperatures. When engines spin at speeds of up to 250,000 rpm, the gases responsible for driving the turbine hit temperatures of over 500 ºC. This severe heat can lead to a build-up of deposits that can harm the engine.
Motor oil plays a pivotal role in preventing overheating. Conventional oils just don’t have the performance metrics needed to carry out the task. First off, their molecules are light, unstable, and prone to vaporization at extreme temperatures. Synthetic oils, by contrast, have improved heat resistance, making them a better choice.
Synthetic oil hands down beat conventional oil any time of the day and outperform in nearly all areas (even economics if you look at the long-term savings made). Switch to synthetic oils now to protect your engine and derive the best possible performance.
Jim Lewis is worked as a Cadillac sales for several dealerships over many years. He is currently managing car dealerships, luxury cars and cars for sale Huntsville AL. He enjoys writing about brand’s vehicles and upcoming projects.