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Conventional or Synthetic – Which is Best?


Valvoline Oil Change in Canton, GAYou walk into your favorite automotive service station for a simple oil change and are confronted with a puzzling question, “Do you prefer conventional or synthetic oil?” Maybe you choose conventional because it sounds normal. Or maybe you go for synthetic because your day has been less than exciting and synthetic sounds more adventurous. Or maybe you are feeling inquisitive and dare to ask, “What’s the difference?” or “Which is better?” Let’s look at the differences.

The difference between Conventional and Synthetic

Although conventional oil may look like synthetic, but it’s composition is quite different. Conventional oil is refined from crude oil, a natural liquid fossil fuel. Synthetic oil, on the other hand, is created from man-made chemical compounds tailored especially for the specific demands of modern vehicle engines. Synthetic oils far surpass conventional oils when it comes to longevity and lubrication. Synthetics are better at withstanding high engine temperatures and resisting oil breakdown over time, hence the longer change intervals for synthetics. Vehicle manufacturers recognize the superiority of synthetics. You may be surprised to know as many as 70% of new cars today come from the factory with synthetic oil.

Oil change intervals and cost

Conventional oil change intervals range from 3000-5000 miles. Synthetic intervals are between 7500-10,000 miles. At most shops, a conventional oil change will cost between $30 and $45 whereas a synthetic oil change averages between $70 and $100. If you calculate yearly cost based on an average of 15,000 miles driven per year and 5 conventional oil change visits, yearly cost can be between $150 and $225. On the other hand, synthetic changes based on 15,000 miles and only 2 visits can range from $140 to $200. In looking at it this way, synthetics are not only superior for your engine, they may be easier on your wallet as well. Not to mention the time you save in not needing to take your car to a service station for three additional oil changes per year.

Other points to consider

At Killian Automotive, we’re often asked if it’s okay to change back and forth between conventional and synthetic. You absolutely can, but in all honesty, it isn’t in the best interest of your vehicle or your wallet. No problems will arise from changing, however, you won’t gain the full benefits from using synthetic if you plan to switch back to conventional.

Another option is synthetic blend oils, which are a combination of conventional and synthetic. Blends perform better than conventional oils and are priced less than full synthetics. They aren’t as long lasting as full synthetics making them difficult to justify against a full synthetic, but a blend is more beneficial than conventional.

Choosing the best oil for your vehicle

Our advice to customers is this: If your vehicle’s manufacturer recommends a synthetic, definitely stick with a synthetic. If the manufacturer doesn’t specify a synthetic, you could consider upgrading to a synthetic or even a blend. In many cases, the switch to synthetic can save you a little money, be healthier for your engine, and save time spent on extra shop visits. As always, if you have further questions or just want some friendly advice, feel free to give us a call at Killian Automotive.