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Can I Put Synthetic Oil in My Car?

Close-up of a car's oil filler

Oil filler cap

If you’ve always used conventional oil when you get an oil change, you might have wondered, “Can I put synthetic oil in my car?”

Although, the question you should really be asking is, “Why wouldn’t I put synthetic oil in my car?”

Can I Put Synthetic Oil in My Car?

The fact is, every car can use synthetic oil. Some manufacturers recommend it, but even if your car’s manufacturer doesn’t, your vehicle would still benefit from making the switch. Here are some benefits of using synthetic oil versus conventional oil:

  • Heat tolerance: Most modern cars have smaller, higher-revving engines that produce a lot more heat than older cars’ engines. And heat, along with wear, is a leading cause of premature engine repairs and even engine failure. Synthetics are far better at withstanding those higher engine temperatures.
  • Cold weather protection: Synthetic oils flow more easily than conventional oils, so when the outside temperature is low, its lubrication travels to vital engine parts quicker than conventional oil would. Even in more temperate climates, such protection pays off if you mainly drive short distances. If you’re not going far enough to let conventional oil hit its optimal temperature before you stop, your engine is running without full protection. Synthetic oil ensures that internal parts are not operating under more friction than they should.
  • Longevity: Synthetics are more resistant to breaking down than conventional motor oil or synthetic blends, resulting in longer protection for your engine’s moving parts.
  • Suitable for heavy-duty jobs: Synthetic oil is great for heavy-duty uses, including hauling and towing. You might not think of it, but big payloads or a major towing job (like a trailer or a boat or toy hauler) put strain on your engine. While your vehicle can handle it, such stressors call for better protection, lubrication and tolerance at higher operating temperatures. All of which can be aided by synthetic oil.
  • Possibly less frequent oil changes: How frequently you get an oil change depends on your manufacturer’s recommendations and your own obsessiveness about maintenance, but some manufacturers suggest conventional oil changes every 5,000 miles. Synthetic oil doesn’t have to be changed nearly as often — it can sometimes last up to 10,000 miles.

Overall, synthetic oil’s longer life span and higher resistance to breakdown means that you get superior protection from less-frequent oil changes. So, even if you don’t normally ask for synthetic oil, you might want to consider making the switch at your next oil change.

Check out all the oils available on NAPA Online or trust one of our 17,000 NAPA AutoCare locations for routine maintenance and repairs. For more information on oil changes, chat with a knowledgeable expert at your local NAPA AUTO PARTS store.

Photos courtesy of Mike Hagerty.

Mike Hagerty View All

Mike Hagerty is an automotive journalist whose work has been featured on radio, TV, in print and online since 1997. He's the Publisher and Editor of, and contributes car reviews to the Los Altos Town Crier and Previous outlets have included KFBK and in Sacramento, California, the ABC television affiliates and Hearst-Argyle and Emmis radio stations in Phoenix, Arizona; AAA magazines for Arizona, Oklahoma, Northwest Ohio, South Dakota and the Mountain West and

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