Can You Switch From Conventional to Synthetic Motor Oil?

What Is Synthetic Oil?

As the name suggests, synthetic oil is a man-made lubricant designed for engines. It contains artificially modified chemical compounds with distilled crude oil as the base material.

There was a time when only high-performance vehicles like airplanes were using synthetic oil—nowadays almost all the latest engines are tailored for it.

The two main types of synthetic oil are:

  • Full Synthetic Oil. This uses high-quality synthetic base oils combined with a variety of additives such as polyalphaolefin, paraffinic oils, and castor waxes.
  • Synthetic blend. A mixture of full-synthetic base oils and conventional oils for improved protection for your vehicle’s engine. This is the more affordable option.

Difference Between Synthetic Oil & Conventional Oil

Visually, the two oils are the same. However, there are plenty of differences between the two.

The first clear distinction is in the ingredients and how the two oils are created. Conventional oil is made from refined crude and is extracted naturally from the earth. In contrast, synthetic oil is a chemically-engineered product.

To make synthetic oil, refined crude oil goes through a series of processes that give the molecules consistent uniformity. Finally, the oil is distilled and purified using various methods until it contains almost no impurities.

Benefits of Synthetic Oil

If your engine can handle it, making the switch to synthetic oil is usually the right way to go. Compared to regular oils, you can expect superior engine performance and protection with synthetics.

Let's take a look at some of the main advantages of synthetic oil over conventional oil:

  • It is chemically stable and more resistant to breaking down which gives it long-lasting protective qualities.
  • It is able to withstand higher operating temperatures for an extended period of time without oxidizing or breaking down.
  • It flows more easily even in cold temperatures and provides far better lubrication to the engine. This helps in smoother startups and reduced engine wear.
  • It is able to withstand higher temperatures.
  • It keeps the engine clean and prevents sludge from forming.
  • It has fewer impurities which keep the engine running smoothly for a longer time.
  • It has longer oil change intervals compared to regular oil.
  • It is conducive to improved fuel economy.

Should You Switch To Synthetic Oil?

First, find out if your vehicle is better suited for conventional oil or synthetic oil. Simply check your car’s owner's manual and look for the page or section that covers the correct oil type based on the manufacturer’s recommendation.

Generally, high-performance vehicles and supercharged or turbocharged engines require synthetic oil. This oil type is also suited for most modern engines these days.

Even if your car doesn’t require synthetic oil, you can still make the switch from conventional oil. One factor to consider is the mileage of your car. This is also a good indicator of the state of your engine.

For instance, engines that have run more than 75,000 miles are more prone to wear and tear. The slower flow of regular oil may do a better job at lubricating aging engines. In such a scenario, sticking to conventional oil may be preferable. However, many older engines will still perform better with synthetic oil.

Synthetic Motor Oil Myths

When it comes to synthetics, there’s plenty of inaccurate information and misconceptions circulating around.

Myth # 1- Once you've switched to synthetic oil, there’s no going back

This is not true. You can switch from conventional to synthetic and then go back to conventional oil without any issue.

It’s completely safe and even recommended at times, especially during the winter months when a lower-viscosity oil is needed to maintain high-temperature protection. This is, of course, a very nuanced approach to engine lubrication. Consult a professional before deciding on which type of oil to use for your vehicle.

Myth # 2- Synthetic Oil Can Cause Leaks

It’s true that the thinner consistency of synthetic oil helps it flow more freely. In case there is a cracked or worn seal in the engine parts, this often leads to a leak. However, the synthetic oil itself doesn’t cause the leak; it’s simply more likely to leak if there is an unsealed spot in your engine.

Myth # 3- Break In Your Car With Conventional Oil First

Some people assume that you have to break in a new engine with conventional oil and then switch to synthetic. There is no such requirement from any vehicle manufacturer, and most cars run on synthetic from the very start and for the long haul.

In fact, most worldwide automakers ship out their latest vehicles with synthetic oil.

Best Practices For Switching From Conventional To Synthetic oil

In most cases, you don’t need to do anything special before making the switch from conventional to synthetic oil. All you need to do is ask your mechanic for synthetic oil. Of course, it’s a good idea to check for any leaking seals before an oil change. It’s a good idea to flush the engine first. This should remove any accumulated deposits, debris, or sludge from the engine. An engine flush can deliver immediate results and can be especially useful for old engines with more debris build-up.

How Do I Switch from Conventional to Synthetic Oil?

Find a Caliber Auto Care location

Caliber Auto Care takes the place of your dealership’s service department and your local quick oil and mechanical repair shop with efficient, high-quality auto repair or maintenance services at an affordable price.

We know that scheduling car care services between work, school and play can be a hassle. That’s why we make it as easy and straightforward as possible, offering you neighborhood convenience, superior service, comfortable waiting areas or free local shuttle service and the option of staying in your vehicle for some services while we work. It’s all about meeting your needs and standing behind our work.


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