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How to Make the Switch to Synthetic Oil

How to Make the Switch to Synthetic Oil
Courtesy of Mark Reed, Shell Canada.

Why make the switch to a full synthetic oil? Many people wonder about the benefits that come from using synthetic motor oil, especially since they notice the price tag is slightly higher than conventional motor oil.

It all comes down to science and innovation. Base oil makes up nearly 80% of a motor oil formulation, and additives make up the remaining nearly 20%. The chemically engineered molecules in synthetic base oil have more uniform properties, while the molecules found in conventional base oil differ in shape and levels of impurity.

The next generation of synthetics use base oil made from natural gas, which is purer than base oil made from crude oil. With the help of this revolutionary gas-to-liquid technology, an engine can experience the complete engine protection including cleaner pistons1, better fuel economy2, horsepower protection3, unsurpassed wear protection4, and extreme temperature performance.


Simply put, a cleaner engine is better protected, and more responsive. It's a fact that all engines generate contaminants. Contaminants such as soot, carbon, and sulfuric and nitric acid are inevitable byproducts of the combustion process, and all of them end up in your motor oil, to varying degrees. So, the question isn't whether you need an oil that cleans, but how well your motor oil cleans the dirt and deposits your engine generates.


MYTH: Once you switch to synthetic oil, you can never switch back.

This is one of the most persistent myths about synthetic oil-and completely untrue. You can switch back and forth at any time. In fact, synthetic blends are simply a mixture of synthetic and conventional oils. It is advisable that you use the same oil for top-ups if needed, thereby giving you the best protection from the oil that you have chosen.

MYTH: Synthetic motor oil is not compatible with conventional motor oil.

This is not true. For example, motor oil labeled "synthetic blend" already has synthetic oil and conventional oil mixed together.

MYTH: If you use a good synthetic oil, you can change your oil less frequently.

Lubricant marketers do not set oil drain intervals; these recommendations are made by the engine manufacturers. The point of using high-quality synthetic oil is to take better care of the engine and reduce deposit formation, which may reduce power, performance, and fuel economy - rather than extending the drain interval. Be sure to follow the engine manufacturer's recommended drain intervals so you do not void any manufacturer warranties.

MYTH: You shouldn't use synthetic oil in an older vehicle.

The myth is rooted in the idea that synthetic oil is "slipperier"-lower in viscosity, or not as compatible with seals and will therefore leak or leak more in places conventional oil might not. Again, completely untrue. Synthetic oils will enhance the engine protection in older vehicles, just as they do for new engines.

MYTH: You should break in your engine with conventional oil before you start using synthetic oil.

Again, there's no manufacturer we know of that makes this recommendation. Mercedes, Porsche, Corvette, some Cadillacs, Volkswagen, Hyundai and many other manufacturers' cars come from the factory with synthetic oil.

MYTH: Using a synthetic oil voids a car's warranty.

Untrue. The only engines that specifically exclude the use of a synthetic motor oil are some Mazda rotary engines.

MYTH: Synthetic oil can't be used with ethanol-containing fuels.

Many gas stations already supply fuels blended with ethanol.

MYTH: After-market oil additives are beneficial to your engine.

No. High-quality motor oils already contain carefully balanced additives for optimal performance.

1 Based on ILSAC GF-5, Sequence IIIG piston deposit test using SAE 5W-30, and Ford, Chrysler and GM specifications. Does not apply to Pennzoil Platinum® Euro products.
2 Based on pistons from standard V6 engine in ASTM Sequence IIIG piston deposit test using SAE 5W-30. Does not apply to Pennzoil Platinum® Euro products.
3 Fuel economy measurements made using CAFE cycle under FTP75. Avg of 550 extra miles based on mixed city/highway miles and US avg of 13,476 miles driven per year with 4.1% better MPG vs dirty engine. Source, 2011. Follow OEM recommended oil drain intervals.
4 Based on Sequence IVA wear test using SAE 5W-30.