Truck Maintenance: Synthetic vs. Conventional Oil

Which One is Better for my Truck?

In the world of cars and trucks, you have a million options for everything. You’ve probably heard about synthetic vs. conventional oil, but what’s the real difference? And what does it mean for the performance of your vehicle? If those questions have ever rattled around in your head, stick with us! We’ll help break it down.

What’s the Difference Between Synthetic vs. Conventional Oils?

What’s the Difference Between Synthetic vs. Conventional Oils?

In a word? Performance.

Both oils start as crude oil that is pumped from underground, but synthetic oils go through more levels of refinement than conventional oils. Along with additional refinement, additives are typically introduced to synthetic oils which help them outperform conventional oils.

Synthetic oils consist of base oil, powder additives, and a carrier oil that helps evenly spread the additives. The base oil is most often a crude oil, but some synthetic oils use a base that is artificially created.

The need for synthetic oils came from major technological advances, like jet planes and industrial plants. These high-stress environments require lubrication that circulates fast and is able to withstand extreme conditions.

Additives in synthetics stop the oil from congealing in cold weather

What are the Benefits of Synthetic vs. Conventional Oil?

That’s the compositional difference between synthetic vs. conventional oils. But’s what’s that mean for the performance of your engine? 

The refinement process allows for better control over the molecular size and purity of the oil itself. Translation? Synthetic oils have significantly fewer of the impurities that cause conventional oil to gunk up over its lifespan. Between the uniform molecular size and increased resistance of oil breakdown, synthetics cause less friction in your engine.

Meanwhile, additives address a number of other performance indicators. They’re responsible for protecting and cleaning your engine, reducing deposits, and better resistance to the elements. Additives in synthetics stop the oil from congealing in cold weather, which means it maintains its viscosity even in freezing temperatures.

Low viscosity means better lubrication, which can make all the difference when you try to start your car in the winter. It has similar resistance to high temperatures, which makes it a better year-round option than conventional oil.

That all sounds pretty great, right? Well, let us deliver the cherry on top! Synthetic oils have longer oil change intervals. Manufacturers recommend you change conventional oil roughly every 5,000 miles, but synthetic oils can often last up to 7,500 miles before you need to change it. Some of the best oils can even last up to 10,000 miles!

Thinking about switching to synthetics yet?

you don’t have to pick between synthetic vs. conventional oils.

Are There Any Other Options?

As great as synthetic oils are for your vehicle, there is one caveat; they can be up to six times as expensive as conventional oils. Fewer oil changes and better engine performance help to make up the difference in cost, but you may still be curious about what your other options are.

Luckily, there is a middle ground so you don’t have to pick between synthetic vs. conventional oils. Synthetic blend oils are a mix of conventional oils and synthetic oils. You get some of the benefits of synthetic oils for a fraction of the cost. It’s also worth noting that if your vehicle gets heavy use (like a heavy-duty work truck), it’s still in your best interest to change the oil every 5,000 or so miles.

You may have also seen “full synthetic” motor oil. We’ll be frank with you on this one: full synthetic is a marketing term that doesn’t officially mean anything. There is no standard that grades how synthetic oil is, but “full synthetic” usually indicates it uses a Group III oil as the base. Each manufacturer uses a different mix of ingredients.

you don’t have to pick between synthetic vs. conventional oils

Impact of Synthetic Oil on Your Truck

In a nutshell, synthetic oils are better for your vehicle’s performance, but at a cost. 

The benefits include:

  • Fewer emissions
  • Better fuel efficiency
  • Less frequent oil and oil filter change intervals
  • Less gunk and deposits
  • More reliability in harsh weather conditions.

According to AAA, synthetic oil performs 47% better than conventional oil. However, it is noticeably more expensive than conventional oil. The good news is that switching to synthetic oil or switching back to conventional oil doesn’t harm your engine. In other words, it doesn’t hurt to try it out!

Whether you choose synthetic vs. conventional oil, make sure to check your owner’s manual for the recommended oil viscosity.

Which Side are You On?

Whether you choose synthetic vs. conventional oil, make sure to check your owner’s manual for the recommended oil viscosity. Different vehicles require varying viscosities for their engine oil, but they don’t typically require synthetic over conventional motor oil.

We think there’s a clear winner, but you may see things a little differently than us. Regardless of which oil you choose, make sure to keep up with regularly scheduled maintenance for your vehicle. It makes all the difference when you’re ready to trade it in!