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Understanding Car Issues

When I began thinking more seriously about car issues, it occurred to me that there were a few things I needed to do if I wanted to make things easier for myself in the long run. For starters, I began taking my car in for regular auto service, which really helped out. It was really interesting to see how many different things had to be fixed every time I went in, but when my car didn't have as many problems, I could tell that it was really paying off. This website is all about understanding and preventing car problems by making better choices.



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Understanding Car Issues

When Does It Make Sense to Keep Using Conventional Oil Instead of Switching to Synthetic?

by Micheal Barrett

Unless your car has been specifically manufactured to use synthetic oil, you'll be able to choose either synthetic or conventional oil when you take it in for an oil change. Synthetic oil does a much better job at protecting your car's engine. It goes through a refining process that ensures all of the oil molecules have the exact same size. Conventional oil has molecules of varying sizes due to the fact that it's a natural petroleum product with very little refining, with some being larger and some being smaller than the molecules you'll find in synthetic oil. 

Synthetic oil gives much more consistent performance due to its standardized molecule size, whereas the large molecules in conventional oil become too viscous to be easily pumped when your engine is cold and the small molecules lose too much viscosity when the engine is hot. In addition, synthetic oil contains additives that help reduce corrosion in your engine.

Unfortunately, the additives and extra refining make synthetic oil much more expensive than conventional oil. If you're thinking of switching, you may be wondering if the additional protection is worth the significantly higher price. Synthetic oil is best in almost all circumstances since it helps reduce wear on your engine, but there are still some cases where conventional oil may be the right choice for your car. To learn when it may be a good idea to stick with conventional oil, read on.

You Have a High-Mileage Car That's Always Used Conventional Oil

If you have an older car with a substantial amount of miles on it that has always used conventional oil, you may not get many benefits from switching. While you can always switch a car from conventional oil to synthetic, you've lost out on most of the protective properties of synthetic oil when you use it in an older car that's used conventional oil for most of its life.

Using synthetic oil from the start protects the engine by reducing wear and corrosion, but it's likely that a lot of this damage has already occurred if you've been using conventional oil in a car with a considerable amount of miles on the odometer. The extra price of synthetic oil typically isn't worth it in this scenario.

Your Car Burns Oil

Some car models are notorious for burning through oil quickly, and this can make using synthetic oil quite expensive. Oil is exposed to extremely high temperatures when it's inside your engine, and this can cause it to aerosolize. Aerosolized oil is released into the atmosphere as part of your car's emissions rather than returning to your car's oil pan.

Synthetic oil can withstand higher temperatures can conventional oil, so it's less likely to aerosolize. However, the difference isn't that great, and the expense of constantly changing the synthetic oil in a car that burns oil can add up rapidly.

Your Engine Seals Are in Poor Condition

Finally, you might want to stick with conventional oil if you have an older car with leaky engine seals. The larger molecules in conventional oil can plug the seams of the seal, stopping it from leaking. When you switch to synthetic oil, its smaller molecules can work their way through the seal and leak out of your engine. While the leak isn't very fast, you'll slowly lose oil in your car.

In this case, however, the best option is to replace the deteriorating engine seals instead of relying on conventional oil to plug them. You can use conventional oil as a stopgap measure before you can afford to have the seals replaced.

Ultimately, there are still a few reasons why you'd want to ask for conventional oil at your next oil change service instead of switching to synthetic. While synthetic oil does a much better job of protecting your engine by limiting wear and corrosion, conventional oil is much cheaper, and this inexpensive price makes it the best option in some circumstances. Consider these tips the next time you are in need of an oil change service.