You’ve probably heard television commercials about ‘high-performance’ synthetic motor oil, or perhaps your auto technician asked you if you would like a synthetic oil when you came in to your local auto shop for your last oil change. You might have been a bit confused about what exactly the difference is between conventional and synthetic motor oil. Well, we’re going to let you know right now so you can more easily make the decision as to whether you should be getting a synthetic oil, or not.

Regular motor oil is oil that comes directly from crude oil. It is further refined in order to provide excellent lubrication and withstand all of the high temperatures and the rigorous environment of the inside of a modern combustion engine. While this regular motor oil is typically sufficient for most normal consumer vehicles. The synthetic version is modified petroleum oil that is tweaked to provide a number of advantages over the conventional forms of motor oil. For this reason, you might seriously consider getting synthetic oil the next time you go in for your regular oil change at your local auto shop.

What kind of oil should you choose for your next oil change? Synthetic or conventional? (photo by JD Hancock via Flickr)
What kind of oil should you choose for your next oil change? Synthetic or conventional? (photo by JD Hancock via Flickr)

A synthetic oil has a number of modifications made to it which improve both its ability to lubricate and protect an engine against damage. Synthetic oils are also typically capable of lasting for a longer duration and under higher temperatures and stresses than a conventional motor oil. This is why they are often recommended for high-mileage and high-performance vehicles. The added lubricants keep engine parts slick, facilitating smooth operation and decreasing the overall wear on your engine. This may make your engine last longer. In addition, the additives in many synthetic oils allow them to resist breakdown for longer meaning that you may be able to go longer between each oil change.

Of course, all of this added technology comes at a cost. Typically, these synthetic oils will run anywhere from 1.5x to 3x the cost of conventional motor oil. Whether this additional cost is worth the potential reduced wear on your engine and the ability to go a bit longer between each oil change is up in the air. Some people swear by synthetic oils, others think that they are a waste of money. You will have to make up your own mind. If you have more questions or want a recommendation, you can always ask the auto technician at your local auto shop.