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Ames Auto Repair

(515) 232-8809
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Differences in Synthetic vs. Conventional Oil: Which is Best for Your Vehicle?

Every car utilizes and expends oil differently based on a number of different factors. The main factor is what type of oil is used- synthetic oil or conventional oil, and there’s even synthetic blends. There are pros and cons to each due to how they perform and how they perform during use. This will be a short introductory guide which oil should be used. 


Synthetic oil is a form of man-made oil that’s made out of a combination of artificially-made compounds, typically of modified petroleum components and a base of distilled crude oil1. In fact, many synthetic oil manufacturers take the best parts of conventional oil and use it in synthetic, along with others ingredients2.


The base oils that make up synthetic oil are typically higher quality when compared to other less-refined oils, like conventional oil. 



Conventional oil isn’t made up of as many parts like synthetic oil- in fact, it’s made directly from crude oil. Crude oil is made up of hydrogen and carbon compounds, which is taken then distilled and refined, which results in conventional oil. Traditionally, when people think of motor oil, conventional is what they think of.


There are pros and cons of both types of oil. 


Conventional is typically made up of fewer properties than synthetic, and is a decently reliable oil as long as its replaced on a regular schedule. 

Another major reason to use conventional oil over synthetic is if you have an older engine. Because synthetic oils flow easier and smoother in your engine, older engines that have a greater chance of their gears grinding can benefit from the higher viscosity that conventional oil provides.

Plus, it’s typically cheaper than synthetic if you’re price-conscious. 

A con for conventional oil, however, is that it can also be more of a pain for those that live in drastic climates (harsh, cold winters or excessive summer heat) that can lead to more frequent oil changes.


Synthetic oils are more chemically stable and also less likely to acidify and oxidize. Additionally, they are less likely to break down and lose the desirable qualities that make the oil effective. While synthetic oils does tend to cost more (some being reported as high as four times), the extra cost outweighs the cons.


We suggest talking with your trusted car technician to determine which oil is best for your vehicle. Some technicians will use the oil they think is best for the majority of the vehicles that come through their shop, so if you have questions on the type they use just contact them and they will provide you with more information.

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