Oil, oil types and oil filters are an essential part of your car, especially if you want to use your engine for long and problem free before it misfires or ‘knocks’ on you. While some people get the concept of changing their oil after a certain number of months or mileage, the task still doesn’t quite end there.
Administering the right kind of oil to your car is as essential as changing the oil. The two major oil types are the Conventional also known as Regular and the Synthetic. They are as different function and car compatibility as they are in names. Therefore, knowing the right type for your engine is something you should not treat with levity as a car owner. Quick inside information, not even all mechanics know the difference between both.
The argument for the better deal between the two is something that has been on but while we can’t pointendly place one over the other, it would be apt to note that the in terms of longevity and ability to handle high temperatures without breaking down, the Synthetic has it. What should also be noted is that the Synthetic costs twice or more the cost of the conventional.
But which does the environment better justice? This is not exactly a straight yes or no answer to go along with this question as there are several variables to consider, but in general, most experts would agree that synthetic is (for now) the lesser of the two evils.
Their logic stems from the fact that while conventional oil is evil because it is derived from petroleum, synthetics are unfortunately formed by chemicals that are no less harmful to the environment, but there is a difference here. Synthetics can last as much as three times longer than conventional oil, which means that you could be dumping less than 15 to 24 quarts of oil per year.
This is of course assuming that you are not recycling your used oil, because if you are, at least a good portion of this oil should be getting reused, but it is quite an extensive process to filter used oil for reuse, so the question still remains, which is better?
With today’s technology, synthetics are cleaner. Their composition is much cleaner, because it is derived in a laboratory rather than nature, and it has been proven to have a lower volatility and therefore not vaporize out the exhaust as quickly.
Synthetics have also been shown to produce less resistance in the engine and therefore offer more horsepower and overall efficiency for the engine. This added horsepower in return means that the engine will be able to perform at the same level as before, but using slightly less gas.
Depending on where you drive (dusty, dirty climates), and how much and far you drive (shorter distances don’t heat oil enough to boil off condensation in the engine), you can probably last between oil changes for 10,000, 15,000, on up to 20,000 miles with some brands of synthetic.
There is a middle choice to make things even more confusing, the synthetic blend. This mixes the two together to give you a moderately better oil at better cost to you. These don’t quite have the longevity of the full synthetics, so it really all comes out in the wash in the end.
If you want to be on the safe side, you can follow what your manufacturer recommends as far as oil goes. In general more performance oriented vehicles require synthetic because of the high heat that builds in these engines, whereas conventional engines don’t require anything special.
While synthetics appear to be the more environmentally friendly choice for the moment, there is hope for a vegetable oil (such as canola) alternative that would beat synthetic in both form and function, as well as production price. But the same problem exists here as it does for some biofuel alternatives.
Until such a time that we have a more obvious choice, we can continue to make our best informed decisions on engine oil. Sometimes it is not so much a choice of right and a wrong, as it is a choice of the lesser of the two wrongs.