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Synthetic vs. Conventional Oil: The Best Option

Synthetic versus conventional oil is a choice most vehicle owners must make when getting their oil changed. Most mechanics in Albuquerque offer the choice but always recommend the option that works best for your model of vehicle.

While synthetic oils work in any engine – including those in classic models – it’s not recommended to switch back and forth between conventional and synthetic oil blends.

This blog explores the pros and cons of synthetic and conventional motor oils to help vehicle owners decide which is the best option. Some of the questions we answer include:

What is conventional oil?

Conventional oil is a petroleum-based lubricant used in engines for decades. It’s made from crude oil refined to remove impurities and blended with additives to improve its performance.

As a lubricant, conventional oil has some limitations. First and most important, it doesn’t offer your engine the same level of protection as synthetic oil because its performance in extreme temperatures (hot or cold) is inconsistent.

Conventional oil also has a shorter lifespan than synthetic oil, which means more frequent oil changes. It’s also more susceptible to breakdown and chemical reactions than synthetic oil, affecting how well it lubricates your engine.

One of the biggest advantages of a conventional oil is it’s less expensive. It’s also compatible with most engines and is available at most automotive retailers.

A bottle of synthetic oil is poured into an engine following an oil change in Albuquerque.
A synthetic blend of oil is added to an engine after an oil change.

What is synthetic oil?

Synthetic oil is a manmade lubricant designed to improve performance and protect your engine against damage. A variety of chemical compounds are blended together to create a uniform and consistent synthetic oil.

The biggest advantages of synthetic oil are its ability to perform in extreme temperatures and better engine protection overall than conventional oil. It also has a longer lifespan, meaning fewer oil changes each year. Other benefits include:

  • Greater resistance to breakdown and chemical reactions to preserve viscosity and lubricating properties.
  • Improved fuel efficiency by reducing engine friction.

On the flip side, synthetic oil costs more than conventional oil. Some older engines may not be compatible with synthetic oil, so you should check with your mechanic before you get an oil change in Albuquerque.

What is the difference between a synthetic blend and full synthetic oil?

Synthetic blend oil and full synthetic oil have some key differences. Both serve as a substitute for conventional oil but contain slightly different ingredients.

Synthetic blend oil is a blend of traditional mineral-based oil combined with synthetic oil. Typically, it contains around 30% synthetic oil and 70% mineral oil. It’s designed to offer some of the benefits of fully synthetic oil at a lesser price.

Compared with conventional oil, synthetic blends provide improved performance and protection, particularly in high-temperature and high-stress driving conditions. However, it has a shorter life span than full synthetic oil.

Full synthetic oil consists entirely of synthetic base oils with specially formulated additives. It’s the best of the best when compared to conventional oil and synthetic blend oil. When you choose full synthetic oil, you get:

  • Longer oil life
  • Improved fuel efficiency
  • Superior engine protection
A man lays under a car to drain the oil pan before doing an oil change with either conventional or synthetic oil.
How often you change your oil depends on how often you drive and the driving conditions.

How often should you change your oil?

When it’s time to schedule an oil change in Albuquerque, you’ll want to consider what type of oil you want the mechanic to use in your vehicle.  How often you change your oil depends on the make and model of your vehicle, your driving habits, and the type of oil you use.

Most automobile manufacturers recommend changing your oil every 5,000 to 7,500 miles or every six months (whichever comes first). You can refer to your driver’s manual or check with your Albuquerque auto mechanic if you have questions.

If you regularly drive in extreme heat or cold, or in dusty environments, you may need to get an oil change in Albuquerque more frequently. Most newer vehicles come equipped with an advanced oil life monitoring system that signals you when it’s time to change the oil.

Which type of oil is best for your vehicle?

Ultimately, the best type of oil for your vehicle depends on your driving habits, the age and condition of your engine, and your budget. New, high-performance engines thrive on synthetic oils, which provide better protection. For older engines and tight budgets, conventional oil is a better option.

No matter which type of oil you choose, regular oil changes are an important part of maintaining your vehicle. Schedule your next oil change in Albuquerque by giving us a call at 505-242-3401.

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