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Should I use synthetic oil in my car?

October 13, 2017

Synthetic oil performs nearly 50 percent better than conventional oil in AAA’s tests.

Our clients often ask us if they should use synthetic oil in their engine or if regular, non-synthetic is OK. We've typically says "yes" to that question in certain situations (see below). And recently, a study by AAA has shown that synthetic oil far outperforms regular oil.

Why is synthetic oil better for my car?

Switching from a conventional oil to a synthetic oil will cost you, on average, $64 more per year, or about $5.33 per month. But synthetic oil has a stronger resistance to deterioration. It is particularly beneficial to newer vehicles with turbo-charged engines and for cars that drive in stop-and-go traffic. And how many of us around Chicago don't sit in stop-and-go traffic on a regular basis?While AAA is firm in saying that manufacturer-approved, regular oil will not harm a vehicle’s engine, the extra $30 per oil change could actually save money in the long run by protecting your engine over time.Modern engines are made with such precision, such tight passageways, that clean engine oil is absolutely critical. If you push your oil beyond its useful lifespan, it starts to break down. It turns into a jelly—or sludge—and it starts to clog these passageways. If that happens for a long time, the clean oil can’t circulate properly, and it causes all kinds of expensive engine problems.

Can I really trust the technicians at the car repair shop?

Many drivers think upgrading to synthetic oil is an unnecessary up-sell by a repair facility, but that’s not the case here. In fact, AAA’s survey shows that the vast majority (83 percent) of service professionals select synthetic oil for their personal vehicles. If you are concerned about your auto repair shop, look for a place that meets AAA’s high standards, including:

  • Technician certifications
  • Ongoing training
  • Financial stability
  • Facility cleanliness
  • Insurance requirements
  • Rigorous inspections
  • Customer satisfaction through the AAA Approved Auto Repair (AAR) program.

Here at Liberty Auto Lab:

We recommend synthetic oil if:

  • Your engine requires it. More and more new cars are coming from the factory with synthetic oil. If that's the case with your vehicle, you'll need to continue to use synthetic oil. If you're not sure, we'd be happy to look it up for you. The oil specifications can also be found in your owner's manual and on the oil cap under the hood.
  • You use your vehicle for heavy-duty purposes, such as towing, plowing and other reasons that involve extensive idling or stop-and-go driving.
  • Your vehicle is part of a fleet. It can be an inconvenience to take a fleet vehicle out of service for an oil change. Switching to a synthetic oil will reduce the number of trips you need to make to Auto Lab for oil changes.
  • You regularly miss your 3,000-mile oil change interval. If you find it too difficult or simply don't like to deal with an oil change every few thousand miles, make the switch to synthetic oil. You can make it easier on yourself without risking engine damage.

Additional Information

Want to learn more? Download the full report or the fact treat from AAA:Synthetic vs. Conventional Oil Report (Conducted by AAA)Fact Sheet (Provided by AAA)

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