Synthetic oil differs from conventional oil in its manufacturing process and in its performance characteristics. Synthetic oil has a longer life, can handle higher temperatures, and lubricates better than conventional oil.
Synthetic oil and conventional oil are both made from crude. While conventional oil goes through a refining process to achieve the final product, synthetic oil goes through a process that breaks the oil down at the molecular level and then reassembles the molecules to achieve the desired lubricating performance. This process allows the creation of synthetic oils that provide better lubrication than conventional oils, resulting in better engine operating efficiency and better gas mileage. In addition, the better lubricating performance reduces wear and tear on the engine and increases engine life.
Synthetic oils can withstand higher temperatures for a longer period of time than conventional oils without breaking down, which means they need to be changed less frequently. Even when using synthetic oils, vehicle owners should adhere to the manufacturer’s recommended oil change intervals. The increase in performance of synthetic oils comes with an increase in price, thus synthetic oil is more expensive than conventional oil. Many drivers feel the increase in performance is worth the higher cost, but many older cars, especially those that are not high-performance vehicles, do fine with conventional oil.