Changing your vehicle's motor oil is arguably one of the most important forms of maintenance. Over time, motor oil collects dirt and impurities, making it less effective at wicking heat away from the engine. Furthermore, these impurities will settle inside the engine, causing it to deteriorate more quickly. When choosing motor oil, however, you'll need to decide whether conventional, synthetic, or hybrid is right for your vehicle.
Conventional Motor Oil
The cheapest and most common type of motor oil is conventional. It's made with natural base oils and chemical additives to achieve the desired level of heat tolerance, viscosity, and other metrics required by the manufacturer. Conventional motor oil is available in several different grades, depending on its level of quality. It's usually the preferred choice for low-mileage drivers.
Synthetic Motor Oil
Synthetic motor oil differs in the sense that it contains synthetic (man-made) base oils, whereas conventional motor oil is made with natural base oils. By synthesizing the oil, it creates a stronger and more durable automotive oil that's able to withstand extreme heat. Furthermore, synthetic motor oil typically offers a superior level of deposit control, meaning it controls dirt and impurities more effectively than its conventional counterpart. A third benefit associated with synthetic motor oil is its lower viscosity grade for a higher fuel efficiency rating.
Among the most notable benefits of using synthetic oil is its longer lifespan. Conventional motor oil should be changed at least once every 5,000 miles, while synthetic motor oil can often go for 7,000 miles. So, while it costs more than conventional motor oil, you won't have to change it as often.
Hybrid Motor Oil
A third type of motor oil is a hybrid of conventional and synthetic. It's essentially a blend of both types mixed together into a single product. Hybrid motor oil contains both natural base oils as well as synthetic base oils to achieve a delicate balance between performance and cost.
So, which type of motor oil should you choose? Synthetic or hybrid typically offers the highest level of protection and performance, though they also cost more than conventional. Check your vehicle's owner's manual for more information about which motor oil is recommended by the automaker.
Hopefully, this gives you a better understanding of the nuances between conventional, synthetic and hybrid motor oil.