Should You Shell Out More Money for Synthetic Oil?

They say, “You get what you pay for,” but is synthetic oil worth it? Will the less expensive, conventional oil work just as well? It could depend on the type of car you drive. You can check what type of oil is recommended for your vehicle by looking at the sticker inside the driver’s side door or looking in your owner’s manual.

Benefits of Synthetic Oil

Experts in the automotive industry will tell you that full synthetic oil is hands down the best option for keeping your vehicle in top performance.

Mobile.com explains that while conventional oil can provide adequate lubrication performance, it doesn’t hold a candle to the performance and protection of synthetic oil. Conventional oil has less-refined base oils which makes it less chemically stable causing it to break down faster and lose protective qualities.

On the other hand, “synthetics have a petroleum base, but their lab-created components make them superior to conventional oil,” according to HowStuffWorks.com.

“Good synthetic oils often use a combination of up to three different synthetic base fluids, including synthetic esters, polyalphaolefin (PAO) and alkylated aromatics. Regardless of the exact chemical makeup, synthetics share similarities. Whereas conventional oils contain molecules of varying sizes, the molecular structures in synthetics are consistent in mass and shape. This uniformity means those molecules create less friction as they collide, and less friction means less heat,” the website went on to explain.

Synthetic oil has a low viscosity — it has an easier flow than oils with higher viscosity. This helps to improve the engine’s fuel efficiency because the faster the oil flows, the quicker the engine parts can turn.

Getting the Better Value

It’s no secret that synthetic oil comes with sticker shock — often double or triple the price of conventional oil. However, “Synthetic motor oil has some added value to cover this extra cost. Most experts recommend the use of synthetic motor oil since it has superior capabilities as a lubricant,” said CarServiceLand.com. When deciding is synthetic oil worth it, it’s important to determine if you would rather pay less now, but risk the high bill of an engine repair in the future. In addition to better fuel efficiency (paying less for gas), Consumer Reports says synthetics are worth the price because they last longer and may offer more engine protection — keeping your vehicle in optimal performance and avoiding pricey repairs such as a new engine which can cost thousands of dollars to replace or repair.