The real deal on synthetic oil
By David Menzies for MSN Autos
I was cringing the other day. An acquaintance of mine who owns a high-performance, six-figure ride was bragging about the el-cheapo oil change he just scored down at the local quickie-lube. Amazingly, despite his ride’s pedigree, he goes for value-priced conventional oil over synthetic. This is, as they say in Bonnie Scotland, “Penny-wise and pound foolish.”
Granted, the synthetic product is more than double the cost of conventional oil. Guess what? You get what you pay for.
Oil is the lifeblood of any vehicle. It winds its way through all the moving parts of the internal combustion engine, lubricating those parts in the process. Oil cleans the engine and cools the engine (thanks to transferring heat away from moving parts.) Oil improves sealing while inhibiting corrosion. No other fluid is as vitally important for a vehicle as those precious few litres of Texas Tea.
And make no mistake: no oil performs as well as the synthetic variety.
Essentially, synthetic oil is a lubricant consisting of chemical compounds which are artificially synthesized using chemically-modified petroleum components rather than whole crude oil. As such, synthetic oil is better formulated to withstand rigorous and lengthy engine operation without suffering from viscosity breakdown.
So the question arises: how is it that a consumer who doesn’t bat an eyelash when it comes to spending $5 for a daily dose of designer java will gasp with incredulity when told that a synthetic oil change is going to set him back $90?
Synthetic oil is costly in the short term. But just consider the long-term benefits:
Synthetic isn’t really as costly as you may think: On average, a conventional oil change costs anywhere from $30 to $45 whereas a synthetic oil change is in the $75 to $100 ballpark. At first blush, the numbers indicate synthetic oil is double or even triple the cost of conventional oil. Not so fast: because synthetic oil lasts longer it doesn’t have to be changed as frequently as conventional oil. Instead of changing the oil every 5,000 km using the conventional product, experts say the synthetic alternative is good for at least 8,000 km.
“Extreme driving conditions” is essentially daily driving: Synthetic oil truly excels in extreme driving conditions because it doesn’t congeal as fast as conventional oil. But extreme driving conditions don’t exclusively pertain to those found in the Daytona 500 or the Jeep Jamboree. Rather, commuting in stop-and-go traffic, idling the car for long periods of time, and towing a trailer all amount to “extreme driving conditions” – especially during extremely hot or cold temperatures.
Longevity: Because synthetic oil is so slippery, it will reduce engine wear; reduced engine wear ultimately leads to greater mechanical longevity.
Bottom line: if you subscribe to the wise philosophy of preventative maintenance, then get real by going synthetic.