[youtube:zK9Y7XigZgc;Sixth Avenue Auto;http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zK9Y7XigZgc&feature=related]Chances are you’ve taken your car or truck into a quick lube for an oil change and experienced the synthetic oil sales pitch. No matter the make, model or age of the car, the technician insisted that it was the best choice if you cared about the life of your car’s engine. Synthetics are a regular component of foreign car upkeep for most makes and models.
Learn about the myths and realities surrounding the various kinds of motor oil, and decide for yourself if the extra money you’ll spend on synthetics is worth it.
While conventional motor oil is refined from crude fossil fuel, synthetic oil is chemically altered so that its molecules are much more consistent in size and shape. It uses the same basic ingredients, but they are structured to perform differently. As a result of its molecular design, synthetics have a higher boiling point and a lower pour point than conventional oil. In other words, it withstands a higher degree of heat and flows smoothly at colder temperatures.
According to some tests, synthesized oil has no problem moving through an engine in temperatures as low as -60 degrees Fahrenheit, whereas conventional engine oil takes a lot more time to get up to speed, so to speak.
You’ll hear a lot of claims about this superior type of motor oil, some of which are true, others not. Given the performance of the ordinary car or truck, synthetics will not necessarily boost fuel efficiency, nor will they dramatically increase the life of the engine. However, because they provide superior lubrication, engine components experience internal wear at a slower rate. Because they contain no contaminants such as sulfur and wax, which are commonly found in conventional oil, they do not bring on sludge buildup in an engine. An upgrade to a synthetic variety won’t hurt the car, but it won’t make its engine last forever. Using a higher priced type of oil has never been a substitute for preventative maintenance.
Synthetic oil is highly recommended for high performance vehicles with engines that generate a tremendous amount of heat, and they do perform better under these circumstances. Their higher viscosity rating and ability to perform consistently at high temperatures helps keep motor parts oiled and working optimally.
For many imports, synthetic oil is an absolute must. The automobile manuals specify what type of oil to use. Most newer models manufactured by Mercedes, Audi, Volkswagen, BMW and Porsche – to name a few – call for synthetics.
Domestic and import car maintenance requires, among other things, regular oil changes. The myth of the 3,000-mile oil change remains. While it’s unnecessary to change the oil that often, car owners should check the dipstick periodically to ensure there is adequate, clean oil and stay on top of other required maintenance. If you drive often or drive long distances on a regular basis, you might want to change the oil more often, but most drivers can book up to 5,000 miles, even with conventional oil.
Synthetic oil will last 5,000 to 10,000 miles, but it too breaks down after time. Unless your car’s manual says “synthetic oil only” or you live in a cold northern state, this type of oil won’t significantly boost your car’s performance. If you want to try an upgrade, it is okay to switch between types, but not advised to combine the two. Additionally, there are semi-synthetic blends that contain a minimum of 70% conventional oil. This type provides many of the lubrication and viscosity advantages of synthesized oil at a lower price point.
Bottom line, if your owner’s manual specifies “synthetic oil only,” then you should always follow the manufacturer’s guidelines. However, if you have an older car that’s in good condition and you have consistently used regular oil, don’t feel compelled to switch to synthetic. Your wallet will thank you.
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If you need Import Car Maintenance in Denver Author Stephen Daniels recommends the mechanics at Sixth Avenue Auto. They specialize in working on Audis and Volkswagens, but also service domestic cars. All work at this trustworthy neighborhood shop is performed by ASE-certified technicians.