What are the pros and cons of synthetic motor oil?
This car was taken into Evans Auto Repair of Hilliard, Ohio. (Photo courtesy of member James S.)
Synthetic oil lasts longer than standard motor oil because it takes longer to break down, so you can drive your car longer between oil changes, says Mike LaDew, owner of highly rated Alternative Car Care in Hudson, Fla. “If you change your motor oil every 3,000 miles now, you can go 7,000 miles with synthetic,” he says.
It’s important to check the vehicle’s owner manual because some cars require synthetic. You risk voiding your vehicle’s warranty if you don’t comply, warns Sam Bell, owner of highly rated The Lusty Wrench in Cleveland. Bell says synthetic oil can also be used in vehicles that don’t require it. “The primary purpose of synthetic oils are to reduce engine wear during cold weather, and to avoid or reduce oil degradation,” he says.
The fact that synthetic motor oil lasts longer can also be a drawback. “Longer service intervals are obviously less hassle for the consumer, but if you’re like most, you’ll never open the hood between oil changes,” Bell says. If you develop a problem with your engine, you may drive many thousand miles without realizing it.
LaDew suggests comparing price and mileage difference. Synthetic costs about three times as much as standard oil, but can save you money on labor with fewer oil changes. “If you can save money over the long haul, then switch to synthetic,” he says. “Although some folks swear synthetic protects better.”
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