How to Switch to Synthetic Motor Oil
Using synthetic oil of the proper viscosity can increase your mileage interval between changes. Synthetic oil is prefered or even necessary if conditions are quite cold. 0w oils are always synthetic formula and are made specifically for extreme cold. 0w oil does not thicken as much when cool/cold, allowing the starter to turn the engine easily and it slightly reduces the resistance to flowing after start and while warming up, possibly saving a bit of fuel and start-up wear.
- Start with a vehicle that is in good usable condition. Synthetic lubricants will not fix a worn out or abused vehicle.
- Choose a synthetic lubricant that has the API (American Petroleum Institute) seal of approval on the container.
- Engines can be switched from or to synthetic oil at any time, as there is no real chemical difference.
- All oils pass a seal compatability test, but leaks can occur in older engines that have seals which are varnished over from the inside and have become dried out. High detergent levels in synthetic oil can clear away the "false seals" and allow some leakage that should stop after the once-dry seals are re-wetted and swell.
- Synthetic oils should not be considered as cost-effective, but rather a luxury item. Oil companies and auto mfgs agree that change intervals should not be extended beyond what is recommended in the service manual, despite the use of synthetic oil. Still, cost-effectiveness of synthetic oil can be obtained by extending the change interval of the oil filter to every 5,000 miles (top off after changing) and of the synthetic oil to every 10,000 miles. This regimen has been performed with very successful results.
- Plain quality filters last as long as most people are willing to use the oil it filters. 10k miles is fine for even basic grade filters and the "one" oil company that leads the synthetic market states that no special filter is needed.
- Be certain to use the weight (Example: 5W-20; 5W-30) of synthetic oil recommended for your vehicle and the weather conditions in which it is driven.
- Before driving the vehicle after an oil change, be certain to start and run the engine to full oil pressure. Then, check for any oil leaks around the filter seal and pan plug. After shutting the motor off, wait three or four minutes for the oil to run back to the oil pan; then check the level of oil with the dipstick to be certain it is full.
Synthetic oils vary in quality and ingredients. Most should be considered better than plain oil, but only a few exceptional ones are on the market. European specs on the bottle from auto manufacturers indicate a higher quality and longer service life.