Is synthetic oil better than regular oil?

May 6, 2002 (Updated May 4, 2008)

The Bottom Line Keep it clean in, out, and in-between and you will have a car that will last you many trouble free years.

Some of the info in this review may sound repetitive or make you say “duh”, but I can not stress this enough; how you take care of your car will affect the life of your car!

Oil Changes:

Oil changes every 3,000-7,500 miles or every 3-4 months is essential for keeping your engine in good shape. Over time, oil loses its viscosity and also it's lubricating additives that help keep your engine from excessive wear. Oil is not free of contaminants over time, your car's engine builds op carbon deposits, dirt, and even water can build up in your engine over time. If you change your oil at a shop or yourself, make sure the oil is slightly warm, warm-slightly hot motor oil will carry more contaminants than cold oil, making your engine cleaner when you add new oil. NOTE: Check your oil every week, or every 500-1,000 miles, running your car with low oil can cause premature wear.

What kind of oil should I use?

Some people believe that the thicker the weight of the oil the better; not true at all and in most cases it's the opposite. Most small cars with small engines or even large cars with large engines of today do not need an oil thicker than 5W-30 for everyday driving. Your car will adjust to the viscosity it needs at the temperature it runs. Although many believe that thicker oil will remain in the engine longer after use, providing better protection on start-up, it simply is not true. A synthetic oil of 0-50, 5W-30, or a conventional 5W-30 oil will lubricate your engine much faster than if you run a straight 30 weight oil or 20W-50. Using the manufacturer's recommended oil of course is probably best and will help you save a bundle on gas, not to mention premature engine wear. I recommend Mobil 1 full Synthetic oil for long lasting protection. And don't forget the oil filter as well, this should be changed with every oil change! I highly recommend Purolator oil filters! Purolator oil filters have a large filer media that seem to do the best job trapping dirt, etc.

Transmission Fluid and Filters:

This is one of the most neglected fluids in our cars. Transmission fluid protects the 2nd most expensive mechanical feature in our car, protect it like your engine. Automatic transmission fluid should be changed around every 30,000-40,000 miles. If you live in a hilly area or where you are constantly driving in heavy traffic, you might even change it more often. Just like motor oil, you should check your Automatic/manual transmission lubricants often. Low or even too much transmission fluid can cause transmission failure, premature wear, and rough shifting. If you don't know how to check your automatic transmission fluid, it's simple, make sure your engine is hot, shift through all the gears, put it in park, and then check, make sure it's in the range of the manufacturers recommendation. I recommend Valvoline Maxlife ATF for an automatic transmission, although check your manufacture’s specs for the right kind of fluid.

Your Car needs Antifreeze/coolant!

While many believe that plain Water will do the trick, plain tap water will rust out your cooling system faster than you might think. Rust deposits can accumulate and cause extreme cooling system problems. These problems usually result in over heating, which also cause premature engine wear, and also transmission wear. Almost your car's whole powertrain depends on your cooling system, so take care of it, and check it often. Flush your system every 40,000 miles and use a 50% concentration of coolant and distilled water. I recommend using Prestone Extended Life coolant.

Check engine lights, gauges: Pay attention to them! These lights, and gauges tell you what is going on with your vehicle, don't ignore a temperature gauge that is showing 'hot.' I have heard of so many stories of people saying they blew a head gasket because their car overheated. Pulling over to the side of the road and checking the fluids might just save you a few grand.

Tires: Check your tires often, check for uneven wear. You could need an alignment if one side is wearing faster than the other. Also check for accurate air pressure, a low tire can not only cost you MPG, but it can also in-danger your life. A low tire is more prone to blowouts, which can cause you to lose control.

Fuel System: Change your fuel filter every 50,000 miles or so. I recommend cutting into the used fuel filter to see what garbage it is trapping. If you find a significant amount of rust you may have rust in your gas tank which will then need to be changed. Also use a fuel injector or carburetor cleaner i.e. concentrated Chevron with Techron every 7,000 miles or so, this will help keep injectors clean, and increase fuel economy.

Paint: Simple way to keep your paint good looking for a long time. Use a quality cleaner (not dish soap ), and wash your car every other week, or more often depending on how dirty your car gets. Wax your car often with a high quality wax i.e. Armor All Car Wax.

interior: Clean your interior often, the leather portions of a car can be cleaned with a leather conditioner, and cloth can be cleaned with a high quality upholstery cleaner i.e. Armor All Leather Wipes. If you go to the beach, and get lots of sand in your car, make sure you vacuum it up as soon as possible. Sand can work its way under your carpet and accumulate, adding unnecessary weight. Also keeping your trunk or car loaded with clothes, or heavy items will add substantial weight costing you performance and fuel economy.

Want to learn how to save a few bucks on gas? Check out my review on fuel economy

-Hope this info helps.

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