Synthetic versus Conventional Oil - Choosing the Right Product for My Ford Vehicle
Choosing the right motor oil type for your Ford vehicle isn't a simple, easy decision. There are many factors and reasons as to why you would want to choose synthetic versus regular oil. Here is a guide to help you decide.
It is important to understand that synthetic oil has different properties than regular oil. These differences include having fewer impurities, better properties for hot engine temperatures, a bit better viscosity and is overall a lot more resilient than other motor oils. However, before putting synthetic oil in your vehicle, you should see if the following reasons apply to you.
Why Use Synthetic?
1. Changing oil isn't a priority. If you commonly find yourself missing oil changes or going longer between them, synthetic would be a good choice. Synthetic works better when engine oil is stressed like when you don't change it. Simply put, it is more likely to not breakdown as quickly as other oils. This means if you stress your oil by not vigorously changing your oil, synthetic will help protect your engine longer.
If you are vigorous in changing your oil, then don't bother with synthetic.
2. Low mileage driving. If your annual mileage is low (like 5k), synthetic oil is for you. The reason? Synthetic oil holds up better over a longer period of time than regular oil. It can last more than 6 months before it begins breaking down and becoming less effective.
3. Unique Driving Situations. If you commonly find yourself using your vehicle in the following driving situations on a daily basis, you would be wise to choose synthetic:
- Long-term idling. If you vehicle is commonly idling without air flow like at a job site, synthetic will hold up better than regular oil.
- Mountainous or Desert Driving. Operating a vehicle in extreme heat or at high altitude (10k+) can cause it to run hotter. The long-term hotter engine can cause regular oil to break down quicker than synthetic oil.
- Extreme Cold Climates. Much like hot temperatures put a strain on an engine, the reverse is true for extreme cold temperatures (-10F or lower). Operating a vehicle at this temperature can put a lot of strain on oil. Synthetic is simply better when operating at extreme conditions.
- Racing, Towing, Hauling and Off-Road Racing. Bascially any driving that isn't commuting or considered daily driving can benefit from synthetic oils. These driving situations cause the engine to run hotter or put extra strain on the engine. The properties that make up synthetic oil are better suited to handle these conditions better.
4. Personal Preference. There are a lot of personal choices when it comes to owning a vehicle and many people simply like synthetic better. It doesn't really hurt anything to go with synthetic, it just requires different oil changes.
Expert opinions vary on synthetic versus regular vary as well. Many say it is better for stop and go driving and short distance driving. The stop and go driving would be true if that is all you did all day everyday. Similarly, the thought is that if you are driving really short distances all the time, that type of driving can cause regular oil to breakdown faster. These theories are fine except that both types of driving cause a similar strain on a engine by not always letting the engine cool off or cycle the oil completely. It is better to simply vary your driving and in the case of short distances, drive farther once in a while.
Synthetic Oil Blend Beware
When choosing synthetic oil, beware of synthetic blends. Why? The percentage of the blend isn't regulated. This means you might by a synthetic blend at one shop that is 1% synthetic and 99% regular oil. While another shop may have a different mixture. Make sure you determine what the exact blend is before using one in your vehicle.
Ford's Stance on Synthetic Oil
Ford states on their website that "Ford engines have been tested using Motorcraft® Synthetic Blended Oils. If you use synthetic oil, it must meet Ford specifications for motor oil and the specific oil weight as indicated in your Owner’s Guide. Ford still recommends using the oil change service intervals as indicated by the IOLM." The IOLM is the intelligent oil-life monitor that is found on newer Ford vehicles.
Choosing an engine oil is not as simple as it seems. By doing research and listening to different opinions, you will be able to make a smart and informed decision based on your driving habits.