Synthetic Oil Myths Busted

Even though synthetic motor oil has been on the market alongside conventional oil for over 40 years, many consumers still have misperceptions about the product. However, being able to speak to the differences and benefits can help shatter any confusion or myths around synthetic oil and clear the air.

“Setting the record straight about synthetic oil is important to educate consumers about the advantages of using this product instead of conventional oil,” said Herbert Steurer, Passenger Vehicle Lubricants brand supervisor for ExxonMobil Fuels & Lubricants. “Ultimately, when installers properly educate consumers around synthetic oil, they’re helping extend both engine life and consumer trust.”

“Don’t I need to change my oil every 3,000 miles?”

Lubricant technology has vastly improved, so a 3,000-mile oil change interval is simply not a hard-and-fast rule for modern vehicles. Most automakers actually suggest changes between 7,500 and 10,000 miles, depending on the vehicle. If using the right synthetic, many cars can even go as long as 15,000 and 20,000 miles between oil changes. Though the 3,000-mile sticker service reminder has become an industry standard, for many it will be too soon.

“Doesn’t switching to synthetic oil require a ‘break-in’ period?”

A break-in period for switching a car from a conventional to a synthetic oil is not required. In fact, you may simply change from a conventional oil to a synthetic any time. High-performance synthetics are fully compatible with conventional motor oils and, in modern engines, may actually reduce oil consumption when compared with conventional oil. No special preparation (such as flushing an engine) is necessary when switching from conventional motor oil to a high-performance synthetic.

“Aren’t synthetic oils only for high performance vehicles?”

Not at all. Synthetic oils are recommended for any vehicle, operating in any climate or temperature. However, in situations where conditions become extreme — such as a sudden winter storm or heat wave — high performance synthetic motor oils offer significant performance benefits over conventional lubricants, which are mineral-based. At cold temperatures, many top synthetics offer protection at temperatures as low as -51 C (-60 F) and faster start-ups. And even if you find yourself driving during the hottest summer day on record, many also withstand temperatures up to 204 C (400 F) while reducing oxidation and engine wear. In comparison, conventional motor oils have been known to thicken up when nearing 0 C (32 F) and break down quickly when engine temperatures exceed 66 C (150 F).

“Will switching to a synthetic oil void my vehicle’s warranty?”

This is another common myth. In fact, many leading automotive manufacturers already recognize the benefits of synthetic motor oils and factory-fill synthetic oils to the engines of vehicles coming off their assembly lines. When helping consumers select a synthetic, be sure to have them check the section of their owner’s manual outlining the viscosity and performance requirements for the vehicle so neither the warranty or the car’s engine will be compromised.

“My vehicle isn’t new — can I even use synthetic oil?”

Any vehicle can benefit from using a synthetic oil, which will only serve to enhance the protection and performance of a car’s engine. In fact, switching from conventional to synthetic in older models can even help reduce engine sludge and harmful deposits that may have accumulated in a vehicle. Synthetic oils are more sludge-resistant than conventional mineral-based motor oils and also withstand the effects of high temperatures and oxidation better than conventional motor oils.

It’s worthwhile to explain the benefits of using or switching to a synthetic oil to consumers. Ultimately, this will make them aware of the facts and fictions surrounding synthetic motor oil and help them to make informed decisions.

“When it comes to vehicle maintenance, consumers sometimes tend to believe the knowledge passed down to them instead of keeping up with the newest information and trends,” Steurer said. “That’s why we’re always happy to surprise them with the cost and mileage benefits a full premium synthetic can provide and educate around any misconceptions surrounding the product.”