What Is Synthetic Oil and Is It Better?


Ask any experienced mechanic out there and they’ll tell you if you want better health for your car, switch from conventional oil to synthetic oil. But why is this so? What makes it such a better substitute and is it worth going through all that trouble for? In this post, we look at certain synthetic oil properties that make it better than conventional oil!

What is Synthetic Oil?

Synthetic is an artificially-made lubricant composed of man-made chemical compounds. These compounds are typically made by breaking down then rebuilding petroleum molecules. Although the materials used are chemically modified, the base material is nearly always distilled crude oil.

Any extra additives and the real synthesis process used to create synthetic oil tend to vary from one producer to the other; often considered to be a trade secret.

How is Synthetic Oil Different from Conventional Oil?

While conventional oils can provide adequate car lubrication, they are not on the same level as synthetic oils as far as overall engine performance and protection are concerned. Synthetic oils are made using base oils of a higher quality compared to the less-refined base oils used for conventional oil.

As seen under a microscope, one drop of synthetic oil displays millions of molecules with nearly a similar size and structure. On the other hand, a drop of conventional oil shows molecules with different sizes, shapes, as well as structures.

What Makes Synthetic Oil Better?

Given that synthetic oils are made using intricate processes, this enables them to achieve the precise molecular attributes needed for specific applications. In summary, synthetic oils offer the following benefits:

Better Engine Protection

Car engine components typically move at high speeds and are almost always in contact during this time. In extreme environments, the intense friction can significantly wear down engine parts, and the only thing preventing this is the car engine oil.

Unlike conventional oil or synthetic blends, full synthetic oil doesn’t break down and will deliver more long-lasting protection to your engine. On average, synthetic oil can last up to 25,000 miles of travel.

Cleaner Engine

As the motor oil circulates through the car engine, deposits form after a while. For conventional oils, sludge is formed as a result of the deposits accumulating, and this decreases the efficiency of the engine and its lifespan.

On the other hand, synthetic oils contain fewer impurities, hence tend to resist deposit and sludge formation. Consequently, synthetic oils are generally cleaner than conventional ones.

Lower Viscosity

At both high and low-temperature conditions, synthetic oils offer better viscosity and stability compared to conventional oils. Full synthetic oils usually flow quickly in extreme heat, as well as in winter temperatures. This attribute allows the lubricant to get to all parts of the engine as needed, enabling it to run smoothly throughout the year.

Turbocharger Protection

With more cars being designed with tinier engines and turbochargers, synthetic oil will flow to critical parts of the engine faster, resulting in proper lubrication for your engine. In contrast, conventional oils tend to break down faster, especially under turbocharged conditions. As such, using synthetic oil for your turbocharged car helps to keep it running at peak performance.

Lasts Longer

One of the biggest reasons why synthetic oil is preferred by many motorists is its longer lifespan! The average change period for synthetic oil is approximately after 5000-7000 miles, although some brands claim to offer even longer intervals (15000-25000 miles).

The major reason behind this is that the molecules used to create synthetic oils don’t break down easily. However, it is wise to follow the manufacturer’s recommendations on changing oil regardless of the type of engine oil you’re using.

Less Pollution

Generally, synthetic oils are less volatile compared to conventional oils. The implication here is that less oil is lost through the engine’s exhaust stream, hence reduced atmospheric pollution. Furthermore, this could point to a reduced need for makeup oil between engine oil changes.


While synthetic oils offer a slew of benefits compared to mineral oils, their most glaring downside has to be the price. Synthetic oil is on average around 2-4 times the cost of conventional oil. It is estimated that switching from conventional to synthetic oil use can cost the average motorist around $64 a year.

Other than that, you will enjoy better service from your engine on a wider scale when you start using synthetic oil!

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