Should I Use Synthetic Motor Oil In My Vehicle In The Winter?

Ever since its introduction into the automotive market, people have wondered if they should switch from conventional to synthetic motor oil. Synthetic motor oil gets a lot of positive press but whether you should use it depends on several factors. Great Falls Auto Repair explains below why it’s a good idea to switch to synthetic during the brutal Great Falls, MT, winters but you don’t have to.

Composite Differences

Conventional motor oil is made from raw crude extracted from the ground. It’s an organic material that carries with it organic properties. What we mean by this is simple: There is nothing in conventional motor oil to prevent it from changing its composite characteristics. As such, conventional motor oil freezes in the winter. This change in consistency prevents conventional motor oil from lubricating engine parts until it is thawed by the vehicle’s engine.

Synthetic motor oil is manmade and contains additives to help it remain viscous in extreme temperatures. It does not freeze in cold weather, so you can start your vehicle and drive it more quickly. This doesn’t mean that you should use synthetic oil if you don’t want to; conventional oil becomes viscous once it’s warm, so you just have to let your motor warm up for a few minutes before you drive it. Synthetic oil does protect the engine better in winter weather, however.

Cost Differences

Many people shy away from synthetic oil because it costs more than conventional motor oil does, but the costs often balance out in the end. Because synthetic oil doesn’t lose its viscosity as quickly as conventional motor oil does, you don’t have to have your oil changed as frequently, even in the winter. Oftentimes, vehicles with synthetic motor oil only have to have an oil change every 7,500 miles at a minimum. In some cases, the car, truck or SUV can go as long as 10,000 miles between changes. Because conventional oil loses viscosity quickly, it’s wise to have it changed every 3,000 miles.

Lifestyle Differences

All of this said, if you keep your vehicle in the garage in the winter and your garage is attached to your home, chances are your oil doesn’t get that cold. If you park outside or in an unattached garage, your vehicle gets super cold at night. Older vehicles are more susceptible to engine trouble in cold weather than newer vehicles are, and if you have a long commute, conventional motor oil has plenty of time to warm up and do its job. Short commuters should opt for added protection of synthetic oil.

We are Great Falls Auto Repair located in Great Falls, MT, and we’d be happy to discuss which oil is best for your automobile. Call us at 406-205-2703.

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