Know Your Automotive Oils
The oil in your car keeps things lubricated and running smoothly. Let the oil get sludgy or drain out completely, and you’ll soon learn how much your car’s engine depends on it—right before you write out a big check to your local mechanic to fix the damage or shop for a new car because the engine seized up. You don’t have to be a mechanic to know that regular oil changes are one of your top priorities on your list of preventive maintenance to-dos. But what type of oil is best for your car and what are the differences between synthetics, conventional, blends, and high-mileage offerings? Here’s a quick guide that’ll help you get to know your automotive oils.
Conventional oil is made out of really old, compressed organic matter, including dinosaurs and dinosaur-era plants. It pools in underground reservoirs or soaks into sand and rocks. People pump it out of the ground and send it through a refining process to remove contaminants, after which a bunch of chemicals are added to make it fit for pouring into your car’s engine.
In the debate between conventional and synthetic oils, conventional oil takes a significant hit because no matter how much you refine it, there’s always going to be some amount of contaminants left in. Additionally, the molecules in conventional oils are not uniform in size, unlike with synthetics, making it more difficult for them to flow smoothly through your vehicle’s engine on a cold day. For these reasons, those in the know will often point you in the direction of synthetics, even if conventional oil is easier on your wallet.
Just as you’d expect, synthetic oil is made in a lab and is usually derived from natural gas or alcohol, which means these types of oils are more pure than conventional oil right from the start. Synthetic oils have come a long way in the last few decades, and the current synthetics boast some serious engine-protecting capabilities. Though synthetics sometimes cost twice as much as conventional oil, the cost appears to even out over time: you won’t need to change your oil as often, and (all things being equal) you won’t have to pay as much in car repairs. The distinct advantages you’ll find with synthetics is that the molecule size is consistent, which gives the oil a more consistent flow and ability to protect your engine.
Just to confuse you, oil companies offer blends of conventional and synthetic oils. Think of these as the middle ground between cheaper pure conventional and more expensive pure synthetic.
High-mileage oil is recommended for cars that have plenty of miles on the odometer and is marketed as a way to keep your older car running smoothly for longer. Do they work, and are they worth the cost? Manufacturers say yes! But there is also independent evidence that the engine protectors and other additions to high-mileage oils do, indeed, extend the life of your engine if you also keep your car well-maintained. If your odometer has rolled up to 175,000 or more, you certainly won’t harm your vehicle by trying it out.
Oil manufacturing—whether conventional or synthetic—has come a long way in the last 30 or so years. For this reason, you don’t need to overly stress about choosing between conventional, synthetic, blends, or high-mileage oils to put in your car’s engine. They perform fairly similarly, they have nearly equal environmental costs, and their off-the-shelf costs tend to even out over time.
If your car is otherwise in terrible shape, an oil change might not be enough to avert engine disaster and a hefty repair bill. If you are ready to buy a new, more reliable car, call Messy Motors at 888-408-9636 or fill out a quick contact us form to get cash on the spot for your old car. Then you can use your new knowledge of oils to take care of your next car.