You probably already know that you can use synthetic oil in any car, truck or SUV. But what is never obvious is exactly which oil type or brand should be used. There are many synthetic oil options for your vehicle and each have their own benefits. Using synthetic oil in general is a great choice, but there are a few premium synthetic lubricants that might suit your needs better. Let’s look at what to consider when shopping synthetic oil for cars, trucks and SUVs.
Follow The Manual
First of all and most importantly always follow the recommended oil specifications found in your vehicle’s owner’s manual. Your engine has been carefully designed to operate under an exact set of conditions. This is even more crucial in modern engines with tight tolerances that are under pressure to create a lot of horsepower from a small package. Those conditions rely on the lubricating ability of your engine oil. Engine oil isn’t not a plain fluid made up of just oil, it contains various additives that make the oil perform as needed. Additives like detergent and dispersant keep things clean, while rust inhibitors keep corrosion at bay. Your engine needs an oil that meets certain specifications, usually noted as an API grade in the owner’s manual. An API of SJ, SL, SM, SN and SN PLUS are the most common right now, but you may find SA through SH in old car manuals (and are no obsolete grades). Using an oil that meets the same API grade and viscosity range as those stated in your owner’s manual means you are using the right oil that matches your engine’s needs.
Using Synthetic Oil
It is worth stating again, you can put synthetic oil in any car, truck or SUV. You can even use it in your 4-stroke lawn mower. There are no ill effects from using synthetic engine oil regardless of what old wives tales you may have heard. Engine oil leaks are not caused by synthetic oil, but it does have a tendency to dissolve sludge and gunk that was acting as a nasty sealant or sorts. The leak was already there, it was just being hidden and would need to be addressed regardless of what oil is in the crankcase. Lastly, you can always switch back to conventional oil at any time. An engine doesn’t suddenly reject conventional oil once it has synthetic oil has been used in it. There’s even synthetic blend oil that has both synthetic oil and conventional oil together, so they mix just fine.
What Is A Premium Synthetic Oil?
According to Royal Purple a premium synthetic oil should offer the following advantages over standard synthetic oil:
- Better High-Temperature Performance – This makes the oil better able to maintain the right viscosity at high temperatures.
- Better Low-Temperature Performance – Better cold-flow capability for better lubrication during cold weather start-ups until the engine can reach operating temperature.
- Cleaner Operation – The high purity of a premium synthetic oil means it runs cleaner over time. Less deposits and less oxidation.
- Better Mileage – Easier flowing oil means smoother engine operation, which can help increase fuel mileage.
- Fewer Oil Changes – Depending on how far or how often you drive, you may be able to stretch out oil change intervals. While mileage based intervals can be increased, time based intervals should still follow the owner’s manual.
Premium Synthetic Oil Options
There are a myriad of synthetic oil and premium synthetic oil products on the market. Here’s a few premium synthetic oil products to try in your own vehicle.
Mobil 1 Extended Performance – This premium synthetic oil is designed to help extend engine life while also protecting for up to 20,000 miles between oil changes (under the right driving conditions). It has a special uniform synthetic oil molecule design that reduces friction while helping to prevent engine deposits as well as sludge buildup. It resists internal engine heat temperatures up to up to 500 degrees F and can handle cold temperatures down to negative 40 degrees F.
Royal Purple – High performance lubricants have been Royal Purple’s business for decades. But you don’t need to drive a race car to benefit from their premium synthetic oil experience. They use a proprietary Synerlec® additive that helps increase oil film strength and reduces metal-to-metal contact. That’s important during cold starts when most of the oil has drained into the pan and the oil pump hasn’t had a chance to pressurize the lubrication system.
Castrol EDGE Extended Performance – Castrol has developed a special premium synthetic oil with their own patented Fluid TITANIUM Technology that actually changes its structure to be stronger under pressure. It boasts extended 20,000 mile oil change intervals (under the right driving conditions) with a high level of wear protection. For engines that use a 0W grade oil it can even help improve fuel economy.
These three oils are a great place to jump into using a premium synthetic oil, but other manufacturers are also busy bringing their own products to market every day. Don’t be afraid to try one oil and switch to a different one at the next oil change. Your engine, your driving routes and your driving style are all unique so what oil works best for someone else may not be the best one for you.
If you choose to try an extended oil change interval, take the time to pay extra attention to your oil condition. It may even be worth having your oil analyzed professionally to truly know what is happening inside your engine. Not sure if you are ready to jump into a premium synthetic lubricant? Give NAPA Full Synthetic oil a try on your next oil change and start gaining the benefits of superior protection and performance.
Check out all the synthetic oil options available on NAPA Online, or trust one of our 17,000 NAPA AutoCare locations for routine maintenance and repairs. For more information about premium synthetic lubricants, chat with a knowledgeable expert at your local NAPA AUTO PARTS store.
Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.
With an automotive writing career spanning over two decades, Brian has a passion for sharing the automotive lifestyle. An avid DIYer he can usually be found working on one of his many project cars. His current collection includes a 1969 Olds Delta 88 convertible and a slant-6 powered 1975 Plymouth Duster.