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Synthetic Oil - Making the Switch

We recently had a comment come into PumpTalk regarding synthetic oil. The question was "Why is it necessary to use traditional oils in the new engines. If synthetics are so good should we not use them from the get go instead of transitioning at higher kms? As these lubricants are more expensive than traditional oils, would it not be more cost efficient to use them at the start and keep maintenance costs down in the long run?"

We thank you John for your comment and decided to answer your question by going right to our experts - the Petro-Canada Lubricants team.

First, let me give a bit of a background on the benefits of using synthetic oil versus traditional oil:

Synthetic oil can extend the life of your engine for many reasons including protecting against engine wear, rust and corrosion. It also helps reduce deposits of varnish, sludge and carbon on engine parts. It is particularly effective for our Canadian winters as it enables quicker, easier starts at low temperatures, and can also reduce wear on start-up. Synthetic oil also has lower volatility and therefore you are less likely to need to top up your oil between changes.

Another key benefit of synthetic oils that is important to many consumers – especially for our PumpTalk readers - is fuel economy. Synthetic oils maintain their fresh oil properties longer than conventional oils, and better resist the formation of performance robbing deposits. This all adds up to oils that not only help maintain good fuel economy over the oil drain interval, but over the life of the engine.

If you perform oil changes yourself, you can really see the difference! The first time I saw synthetic oil coming out of my vehicle when performing an oil change, I definitely noticed that the oil was flowing better and that there was less sludge.

Now, to answer John's question in terms of when to make the switch:

We have heard in the past that many drivers believe there is a "break-in period" for your new vehicle before you can switch to synthetics. In reality, you can switch to a synthetic oil at any time. There’s no reason not to start enjoying the benefits and protection provided by synthetic oils right away.

So, if you can switch to synthetic at any time during the break-in period, is there anything else you should be concerned with? Manufacturer recommended break-in periods typically require a shorter than normal initial oil drain interval, and advise against high stress driving conditions such as high speeds or pulling heavy loads during the break-in period. You should always refer to your vehicle's owner's manual to determine the duration of the break-in period, and if there are any special service or operating considerations you need to be aware of during this time

Another misconception about synthetic oil - many people are afraid to make the switch as they believe that once you switch - you can't switch back. This is not true! You can switch back and forth between synthetic and regular oil at any time, and can even mix the two.

You can learn more about synthetic oil here.

 - Julie S.

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