Safely Changing Your Vehicle from Mineral to Synthetic Oil
“Oh no! I put synthetic oil in my engine and now my car exploded,” are words the average driver does not want to be in a position to utter. As a result, many drivers staunchly swear by using standard mineral oil in their rides, believing that a switch to synthetic could have some detrimental effect (though perhaps not one so dramatic as an explosion). Some have heard that switching from mineral to synthetic oil could cause an unpleasant shock to their vehicle’s system.
Are the fears of these drivers justified? Is it safe to start using synthetic oil in your vehicle if you haven’t done so before?
Yes, it’s perfectly fine to switch from mineral oil to synthetic oil (and back again) in your vehicle; there won’t be any detrimental effects on your engine. In fact, experts say that even mixing and matching different oils is fine, using blended oil is fine, and using multiple oils from different manufacturers is fine; just ensure that the oils are the same weight.
If you drive a modern car, the rule to follow is that mineral oil is good, blended oils are better, and synthetic oil is best. If you’re driving a 30-year-old machine, using a better oil isn’t going to hurt, but it’s not to going to cause much (or any) improvement either.
Benefits of Synthetic Oil
Synthetic oil is produced in a lab with the goal of making a lubricant that’s better optimized than standard mineral oil. To this end, it also contains a variety of additives that help keep the mechanical labyrinths of your vehicle clean and healthy.
Synthetic oil maintains a more stable molecular structure through fluctuations in temperature, which results in a longer interval between necessary oil changes.
Fears Associated with Synthetic Oil
Various fears regarding the possible detriments of synthetic oil have permeated the mind of the average driver since the first synthetics came into use in the early 1970s. A common issue at that time was that synthetic oil could wear down the seals in an engine, causing leaks. While this was a real problem at the advent of synthetic oil, modern engineering has improved to the point that it’s not going to harm your engine seals as long as they’re in decent health.
If your engine seals are not in decent shape, however, it is possible synthetic oil could cause problems. If your engine is already relying on accumulated mineral deposits to block leaks, additives in synthetic oils that clean these deposits would likely result in the leaks re-opening.
Detriments of Synthetic Oil
The only major detriment of synthetic oil is that it’s more expensive than mineral oil; sometimes substantially so. This is due to the complex lab-based creation process, along with the array of special additives with which synth oil is infused.
One way to save money is to use mineral oil when the weather is pleasant, such as during the summer. If the outside temperature is staying more stable, the mineral oil won’t be as adversely affected. Synthetic oil can then be splurged on only when outside conditions make its premium properties most useful.