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Now it’s time to tackle a much more contentious issue: synthetic versus conventional. Is the extra protection afforded by man-made oil worth the added expense?Synthetic Versus Conventional To understand the benefits of synthetic oil you first have to learn how it differs from dinosaur juice. It’s extracted from the ground and then extensively refined to remove impurities.The problem with conventional oil is that those short, lightweight hydrocarbons tend to burn off when they get hot.This causes the oil to thicken the longer it’s in an engine.Many of the other down-sides about synthetic oil simply aren’t true, including the notion that you can’t switch to it if a vehicle has been on conventional oil for a long time, as well as the idea that it should be avoided in older, high-mileage cars.Zhang said decades ago synthetic-oil makers didn’t pay attention to seal compatibility, which caused seals and gaskets to harden or get brittle, leading to leaks and other issues.
But he points out that was 20 years ago or more and “that’s not an issue anymore.” Misangyi seconds this.
They’re usually several times more expensive than old-fashioned lubricants.
But with longer drain intervals and improved fuel economy “the benefits of synthetic justify the expense,” Martin said.
They’re also more stable at a variety of temperatures.
They don’t thin out as much when they get hot or excessively thicken in cold weather. George Zhang, Ph D and CLS manager of Valvoline’s R&D Lab in Lexington, Kentucky said, “the better oil, like a synthetic oil, the VI (viscosity index) will be higher – [meaning] the viscosity changes less with temperature, which is a desirable trait.” Further complicating things, many refiners offer synthetic blends.
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Aside from that, synthetic oils also handle high temperatures better than conventional lubricants.