Synthetic vs. Conventional Oil
Regular or Synthetic Oil – What You Need to Know
As oil technology advances, many drivers are switching to synthetic lubricants in their cars. A lot of newer vehicles (made after 2013) – particularly imports – are starting to recommend the use of synthetic oil instead of conventional types.
We recommend consulting your owner’s manual or bringing your automobile to Reis before making an oil decision. Using motor oil, whether synthetic or conventional, which contradicts manufacturer’s recommendation can void engine warrantees and cause problems down the road.
WARNING: Drive Thru Oil Changes Might be Fast, but They are Often Not Mechanics
Quick lube places don’t offer the same level of maintenance inspection as quality repair shops like Reis provides. Many of the employees at fast oil change shops know how to change oil – but not much else. They may even switch oil types without asking or considering what’s best for your car.
The mechanics at Reis Automotive’s New Berlin and Hales Corners locations perform a thorough inspection and tire rotation (upon request) and will ensure you have the right oil for your car.
If you are cleared to choose whichever oil you want, you may be wondering:
Which Motor Oil is Right for My Car?
The most honest answer to this question is: “It depends”. Synthetics offer a range of benefits over conventional oil, but are relatively costly when compared to mineral-based oils. However, this cost can be offset by synthetic oil’s longevity.
While conventional oils perform properly in a vehicle for 3,000-5,000 miles, synthetics can last 7,500 or more. This is mainly because of synthetics' reduced volatility, resulting in less vaporization as the engine works and fewer oil changes.
Are Fewer Oil Changes Necessarily a Good Thing?
…Maybe. With the extended life of synthetic oils, fewer trips are needed to the local mechanic, which may eventually pay off in reduced labor and maintenance costs. But depending on the driver and automobile, longer periods between oil changes can also be a drawback.
Many drivers neglect to check under the hood between oil changes, instead settling for periodic oil service to maintain their vehicle. For these vehicle owners, wider intervals between changes mean less vigilance over basic maintenance, and more opportunity for problems – with more time passing before they are detected. More regular maintenance, like you’d get when receiving shorter-interval oil changes, will prevent more costly repairs later.
Basically, if you’re the type who never checks under the hood, synthetic oils may seem like less trouble, but the fewer checkups your car has, the more opportunity for something to go wrong.
With each oil change, Reis Automotive thoroughly inspects all vehicles and offers tire rotation to catch problems before they worsen and minimize tire wear – which saves you money.
Environmental Impact of Synthetic and Mineral-Based Oils
The effects of mineral-based lubricants on the environment are fairly well known, but can be reduced by recycling used oil. Of course, the recycling of old oil is a fairly involved process and requires moderate energy use on its own. Synthetic oil’s longevity demands less replacement, but is also made from chemicals which cause comparable damage to the environment.
Going with What Works
If you’ve been putting conventional oil in your high-mileage Honda in New Berlin for its entire lifespan, there is likely no reason to switch to synthetic lubricants. Shorter maintenance intervals are recommended for older vehicles, and high-mileage mineral-based oils should do the trick. Of course, using modern synthetics in the same car, along with some driver vigilance, shouldn’t be a problem.
Synthetics from years past had different sealing characteristics from crude oil-based lubes. If you were to switch between the two types, crank seals could become worn or valve cover seals could swell and contract, causing leaks.
However, modern synthetics have improved sealing properties and run cleaner than conventional oils. Leaks are less likely to be a problem, and switching between the two types is usually okay.
Making a good decision on using conventional or synthetic oil depends on many variables, and what’s right for one situation may not be right for another. The best way is to educate yourself on your manufacturer’s recommendations is to consult your qualified New Berlin or Hales Corners mechanic at Reis Automotive.