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Conventional Oil Vs. Synthetic Oil: What’s The Difference?

Posted at Fri, May 22, 2020 9:00 AM

If you keep up with recommended maintenance, odds are you bring your Toyota in for an oil change a couple times a year at Westbury Toyota, and you probably have not had to think about what type of motor oil has been used on your car. If you have done this maintenance on your own though, you are likely aware that there are two choices for motor oil: Conventional and synthetic. For those unfamiliar about the differences between these two types of oil, our expert mechanics here in the service department at Westbury Toyota have put together a quick and comprehensive explanation covering all of the advantages and disadvantages of these two oil options.

Exploring The Differences

While there is visually no difference between synthetic oil or conventional oil, there is a lot that differentiates the two. For starters, conventional oil is refined from crude oil and is also known as mineral oil. Because it requires less in the way of refinement, conventional oil is cheaper than synthetic, which is a large part of why it is still so often used.

While mineral oil is closer to actual oil than synthetic, it has crucial additives designed to improve its performance and reduce wear and tear on the engine. You can also purchase advanced conventional oil that has additives that will prevent problematic sludge from building up, as well as remove it.

Synthetic oil is manmade, which is to say that it is made from base oil, powdered additives, and a carrier oil to ensure that all those additives are distributed evenly. Synthetic oil is so heavily refined that their molecular structure is changed, which is a part of why it is more costly than conventional oil. In addition, synthetic oil is engineered to degrade slower, endure higher temperatures, and flow easier in colder temperatures. It is recommended (or even required) for performance engines for these reasons. However, for people driving non-performance vehicles, the decision to use conventional or synthetic comes down to personal preference and budget restrictions.

The Main Difference

To bluntly put it, synthetic oil has quite a few advantages of conventional oil, says the experts of Drive Safely, and we have summarized them below:

  • Less friction
  • The additives clean the engine and reduce build up
  • The refinement process leaves behind fewer impurities, which mean synthetic oil is cleaner
  • Functions better in extreme temperatures

While you are going to be paying three to four times more for synthetic oil than you are for conventional, the benefits make it worth it. Synthetic oil is meant to last longer, runs cleaner, and will not leave sludge buildup behind. However, certain conventional oils come with advanced additives that clean and reduce buildup, as well, so ultimately the decision depends on what kind of vehicle you are driving and how much you are willing to spend.

Choose An Oil Based On Your Daily Drive And Habits

If you are still on the fence about what type of oil to use in your Toyota, you can always default to what is said in the owner’s manual. Performance vehicles will likely require synthetic oil, but if not clearly specified, conventional oil will do just fine. You can also take into consideration where you live and your driving habits. If you live where there are hot or cold extremes in temperature, synthetic oil may be the best choice. If you only drive your car for short distances, synthetic oil warms up faster than conventional. If you live in a temperate area and drive your car for extended periods of time, conventional oil is still a good choice.

Which Type Should I Use?

Unless otherwise specified by the owner's manual of your Toyota, the type of motor oil you use is ultimately up to you. Synthetic lasts longer and is cleaner, but it does cost a bit more than conventional. Conventional is dirtier and degrades faster, but you can buy it with additives that will lessen those issues. Obviously, you want what is best for your Toyota (and so do we!), so you can rest assured that you will find both options ready and waiting for you here at Westbury Toyota’s service center.

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