How To

Deciphering the Differences Between Motor Oils

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Your routine maintenance light comes on in your vehicle, and you know it’s time for an oil change and a tire rotation. Upon taking your vehicle to the mechanic, you’re confronted with a choice: Standard Motor Oil, or Synthetic? Some people go by price, some people go blindly by their mechanic’s recommendation. How should you choose? It helps to know the differences in standard and synthetic oil in order to make the best choice for your car.

Origination and Modifications

Oil is oil, right? Wrong. When considering the best choice for your car, you should actually consider the origin of the oil, which will tell you a little something about its quality. Though they look identical, standard motor oil is a lubricant that is derived directly from crude oil. It’s an extremely durable oil that works really well at higher temperatures. Synthetic oil begins as a standard oil, but is modified to improve its protective and lubricant abilities. Synthetic oils are blended and modified for specific purposes, mostly for either high mileage or high performance engine cars.

Breakdown and Deposit

The modifications made to standard oil in creating synthetic will always effect the breakdown of the oil, meaning simply that the synthetic oil will last longer. The result? Fewer oil changes and more protection for your engine. Oil breakdown creates deposits on your engine known as “sludge” which, due to the heat of the engine, becomes baked and caked on there. Over time, this wears on your engine, your engine filter, and can affect mileage and performance. Synthetic oil works to eliminate deposit.


Here’s an obvious difference: price. Synthetic oil will protect and preserve your car in a better way than standard oil, so it goes without saying people charge more for it. Regardless of whether or not synthetic oil contains crude oil remnants, the fact that crude oil prices are trending higher means that both standard and synthetic oil prices will continue to climb, synthetic always rising above standard. One thing to consider, though, is long term cost in regards to how often oil needs to be changed. 

Although there are many differences and synthetic oil is the obvious better oil for your car, standard oil still works really well and gets the lubrication job done. Observing the differences between the two oils in origination, price, and breakdown will help in making your decision.

Landry loves baking and all things sweet, including putting too much sugar in her coffee. You'll usually find her with a good book and noise canceling headphones on.