What is synthetic oil and should I use it?
Hometown Garage Answer:
Regular oil, also called conventional oil, comes from dead dinosaurs. Conventional oil molecules are long hydrocarbon chains of various lengths. Imagine a bunch of pencils – some used and some brand new. Synthetic oil is often more highly refined petroleum-based oil. The molecules are shorter and closer to the same length. Think a bunch of those little golf pencils.
Some synthetic oil is man-made. The molecules are rounder and much more uniform. Think marbles. So you can see that as you progress from conventional oil to synthetic blends (a mixture of conventional and synthetic) to full synthetic oil, there will be less friction in your engine. Less friction means less heat – so better lubrication and protection against wear for Portland drivers. Synthetic blends and full synthetics also cost more.
Synthetic oil is more resistant to thermal breakdown, so less sludge (which can clog passages and really lead to damage).
So what should Portland drivers use? Well, it's wise to use at least what your or friendly and knowledgeable Hometown Garage service advisor recommends. So if your vehicle came from the factory with conventional oil you could choose any type. If it came with a synthetic blend, always use a synthetic blend or upgrade to full synthetic. If it came with full synthetic, that's what you need to use.
Portland drivers should always follow their manufacturer's recommended oil change intervals. And if you want some extra engine protection, consider upgrading to a synthetic oil.