August 11, 2022
Written by
Kate Rochat

Synthetic Oil vs. Conventional Oil - How to Choose

If you're wondering whether to choose synthetic or conventional oil for your car, you're not alone. Many people debate each type of oil, trying to determine which is best for their vehicle. Here's a look at the pros and cons of synthetic and conventional oils to help you make a decision for your car. 

What’s the difference?

Synthetic oil is developed through chemical processes, but is generally manufactured using a crude oil base. Both powder additives and a carrier oil are added to the base refining oil to create synthetic oil. 

Conventional oil is another word for crude oil (or petroleum), which is an organic compound that comes directly from the Earth. The level of refinement is the main difference between synthetic and conventional oil. 

Advantages of Synthetic Oil

Synthetic oil is often praised for its ability to withstand higher temperatures and its longer lasting properties. Because synthetic oil is man-made through chemical processes, it can be designed to resist degradation better than conventional oil. The uniform molecular size in synthetic oil leads to less friction, leaving your engine more protected. 

Similarly, the additives in synthetic oil also boost protection and can clean your engine. This means that it can protect your engine better in extreme conditions and over long periods of time. Therefore, during cold winters and steaming summers, synthetic oil is your friend. 

If you use synthetic oil in your vehicle as opposed to conventional oil, it is recommended that you replace the oil approximately every 7,500-15,000 miles or once a year (whichever comes first), while conventional oil should be replaced around every 3,000 miles or every 6 months. 

Synthetic oil, because it is man-made and has fewer emissions, is also more ecologically friendly than conventional oil. 

Disadvantages of Synthetic Oil

However, synthetic oil also has its drawbacks. Some people believe that synthetic oil can actually cause engine deposits and sludge build-up over time. In addition, synthetic oil is typically more expensive than conventional oil, so you'll need to factor that into your decision. The price of synthetic oil can be two to four times as expensive as conventional oil. However, while it is more expensive, synthetic oil (as mentioned above) lasts much longer than conventional oil.

Pricing: Synthetic oil vs. Conventional oil

Synthetic oil, because it is more refined and involves a longer processing and manufacturing time, is more expensive than conventional oil, which does not require much manufacturing. 

A Full Synthetic Oil Change, being the most refined, long-lasting, and overall best option for your vehicle, is the most expensive. Therefore, a full synthetic oil change service with filter replacement generally falls between $75 and $125. Although it appears to be more expensive, a full synthetic oil change can last up to a year before the next replacement is due, ultimately making it worth the extra dough.

A conventional oil change, requiring less manufacturing time, is less expensive. A conventional oil change can range anywhere from $20 to upwards of $60. If you choose to go with conventional oil, it is important to maintain regular vehicle health-checks and to replace your oil approximately every 6 months or 3,000 miles. 

Full Synthetic Oil vs. Synthetic Blend

Full synthetic oil, as the name suggests, is the purest form of synthetic oil, but it is largely up to the manufacturers to declare what is classified as full synthetic oil. Synthetic blend oils are also known as semi-refined oils, and are less refined than full synthetic oils. Therefore, full synthetic oils will provide more consistent benefits due to the uniform molecular size and higher refinement. Synthetic blend oils will still provide the benefits of synthetic oil, but to a lesser degree than full synthetic oil.

Which is best?

So, which is better? Synthetic oil is manufactured for the purpose of enhanced performance, and is thus the overall best option for highest performance. But ultimately, the decision comes down to your personal preferences and your car's needs. If you're looking for the best protection for your engine, synthetic oil is a good choice. However, if you're looking to save money, conventional oil may be the way to go.