Synthetic oil vs regular oil

7 minute read Published on May 4, 2024 by BrokerLink Communications

Synthetic oil vs regular oil

Anytime you take your car for an oil change, you will need to decide whether you want it to be filled up with synthetic oil or regular oil. For those that don’t know, most cars are able to run on both types of oil, which means it’s up to the driver to decide what type is right for them. If you need help making this decision, we explain what synthetic and conventional oils are and the pros and cons below.

Synthetic oil

Synthetic oil is an artificial lubricant composed of chemical compounds, primarily polyalphaolefins. The base stock is synthetic and is designed without petroleum. It also features additives that work to prevent the degradation of the oil. The chemical compounds in synthetic oil are used to break down and then rebuild petroleum molecules.

Synthetic blend

It is worth noting that synthetic oil can be fully synthetic or a synthetic blend, meaning that it comes from multiple base types. These base types usually include a mix of conventional motor oil or crude oil and other synthetic base stocks. Typically, synthetic blend motor oils will either be a blend of high-quality and low-quality conventional base oils or a blend of multiple types of high-quality conventional base oils.

Conventional motor oil

Regular oil, or conventional oil, is made of refined crude oil.

Pros and cons of synthetic motor oil

If you are debating whether to add synthetic oil to your car and want to know whether it can damage your car engine or if it impacts fuel economy, keep reading:


Minimal degradation

In certain conditions, conventional oils are more likely to degrade than synthetic oils. Specifically, mineral oils are more prone to chemical degradation than their artificial counterpart. The particular conditions that can lead to degradation in mineral oils include combustion byproducts, fuel contamination, water contamination, metal particles, acids, pro-oxidants, and extreme heat. Why is oil degradation bad? It can lead to corrosion, sludge, and varnish, ultimately affecting your engine’s performance. This is part of the reason that it’s so important to take your vehicle in for its scheduled car maintenance, ensuring that everything from the oil to the car radiator is evaluated.

Stable viscosity

Synthetic oils have a higher viscosity index. In other words, the viscosity of synthetic oils is less likely to change than it is with mineral oils. The main advantage of this is that it helps prevent wear and tear, as the right viscosity is vital to minimize friction between metal surfaces in your vehicle. In contrast, since conventional oil has a lower viscosity index, it is more likely to become thick. It can become so thick that the oil is unable to circulate and lubricate the engine effectively. A lack of circulation can quickly lead to engine failure. Make sure to regularly inspect all fluids inside your car, including your oil. You should also check the power steering fluid regularly.

Less pollution

Next, synthetic oils are considered to be less volatile than conventional oils. What does this mean, exactly? This means that there is less oil loss to the car’s exhaust stream, which results in emissions. Not only does this translate to less emissions, but it may also mean less need for a top-up between oil changes. You can learn more about the length of an oil change and the cost of an oil change here.

Long lifespan

Finally, one of the biggest pros of synthetic oil is that it typically has a longer lifespan than conventional oil. Although the recommended change interval is between 5,000 and 7,000 miles, some synthetic oil brands claim much longer intervals of 15,000 to 25,000 miles.


Higher cost

Now, we take a look at the cons. The first con of synthetic oil is that it is more expensive. It can be anywhere from double to quadruple the cost of conventional oil.

Fuel economy

Some data suggests that synthetic oils produce slightly less fuel economy at high speeds, e.g. on the highway, than mineral oil. This may be a result of the fact that conventional oils use more viscosity index improver additives, which reduce viscosity friction.

Possible separation

One last con of synthetic oils compared to conventional oils is that due to the types of additives that are added to synthetic oils, they may be more prone to precipitation in cold conditions. Precipitation can cause the additives to completely separate from the oil.

Conventional oil vs synthetic oil: Which is better?

Generally speaking, synthetic oil is the better choice for your car. While both types of oil can provide sufficient lubrication to ensure that your engine runs as it should, synthetic oil is known to provide better performance. More specifically, conventional oils are considered to be less chemically stable, quicker to degrade and break down, and more prone to oxidation. Oppositely, synthetic oils are known to reduce wear and tear, control the breakdown of the oil, prevent the buildup of sludge, and protect against high temperatures.

What are the benefits of synthetic motor oil?

A few of the main benefits of synthetic motor oil over conventional motor oil are as follows:

  • Synthetic motor oil offers better engine wear protection
  • Synthetic motor oil contains fewer impurities and, therefore, keeps your engine clean
  • Synthetic motor oil remains thin and flows more effectively, even in cold temperatures
  • Synthetic motor oil is better at protecting your vehicle at high temperatures. It is ideal for turbocharged engines, which run hot and are becoming the norm

Oil changes: Will I need to change my oil more often with synthetic oil?

No. Synthetic oil is known to have a longer lifespan than conventional oil. This means that you will likely have longer intervals between oil changes by utilizing synthetic oils. That said, the specific change interval depends on the brand of motor oil you are using, as well as your driving habits and the conditions you typically drive in. Some oil brands recommend oil changes every 3,000 to 7,000 miles, while others recommend change intervals that are as long as 20,000 or 25,000. Be sure to carefully review your owner’s manual for the most accurate oil change recommendations, and remember the importance of preventative auto maintenance if you want your car to remain as fuel-efficient as possible for as long as possible.

Can I choose between synthetic oil and conventional oil for my car?

In most cases, yes. The majority of modern cars can handle both conventional oils and synthetic oils, which means it will be up to you to decide what type makes sense for your needs. If you aren’t sure what type of oil you currently use, ask your mechanic the next time that you replace your car air filter or book car maintenance before a road trip.

Can I switch from conventional motor oil to synthetic motor oil?

Yes. Assuming that your car can handle both conventional motor oil and synthetic motor oil, you should have no problem switching between the two. You may not even have to flush the engine - though it’s always best to check with a licensed mechanic first.

The only situation in which changing from conventional motor oil to synthetic motor oil may be a bit more difficult is if you have a high-mileage engine that has never used synthetic motor oil. In addition, if your engine has been poorly maintained and is in bad shape due to infrequent oil changes, the switch could also be more challenging.

That said, switching from conventional to synthetic oil would still be possible in either situation. You might have to ease your car into it. You should also increase the frequency of oil changes during this time. This is because a high mileage or poorly maintained engine is more likely to have a larger deposit or sludge buildup, and changing your oil more frequently will help clean the engine as you drive. Thus, for the first few thousand miles, take care to change your oil more often than you typically would.

After that, you can change your oil according to your auto manufacturer’s instructions. Remember that if you want your car to last long in Canada, taking it in for regular oil changes is crucial. Reliable vehicles will only remain reliable if they are taken care of through preventative car maintenance.

Get in touch with BrokerLink

Do you still have questions about synthetic oil vs regular oil or how often to change the oil in your car? Reach out to BrokerLink today. One of our auto experts would be pleased to explain the pros and cons of each type of oil and provide you with a professional opinion on which is right for you.

In addition, as an insurance brokerage, we can help you find a car insurance plan that protects your car from all kinds of damage. The reality is that car accidents and other incidents can affect the engine in your car, which can affect the oil and the job it is designed to do.

Thankfully, with the right car insurance coverage, if the worst-case scenario should occur, you can file a claim with your provider to be reimbursed for the cost of repairs. Given how expensive car repairs can be in Canada, insurance provides financial security and peace of mind.

A few types of car insurance that a BrokerLink insurance advisor can help you find include:

Get in touch with BrokerLink today to learn more about how car insurance works in Canada, including what coverages you are legally required to have as a motorist in your province. You can also give us a call to request a free auto insurance quote if you want to know how much a policy will cost you. BrokerLink offers free quotes to all customers, which can be obtained over the phone, in person at any of our 200+ locations across the country, or online.

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