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Can You Put Synthetic Oil in Any Car?

Under a vehicle's open hood, an oil dipstick is held out while being checked.

Can you put synthetic oil in any car? The answer, for the most part, is yes. Using synthetic oil instead of regular oil offers many advantages. Here’s everything you need to know about whether you can put synthetic oil in any car.

What Is Synthetic Oil?oil dipstick

Let’s start with understanding the difference between synthetic oil and regular oil. The regular oil we’ve used for years is made from refined crude oil. Synthetic oil is made from a variety of raw materials. Depending on the manufacturer, that list may or may not include petroleum products.

It’s important to note that the formulations for synthetic oil have changed over the years. Today’s synthetic oil is safer, lasts longer and is suitable for a wider range of vehicles.

Can You Put Synthetic Oil in Any Car?

The answer is a qualified yes. Many modern cars come with a manufacturer’s recommendation to use synthetic oil, but even those that don’t call for it will benefit from making the switch. That said, always check your owner’s manual for specific manufacturer recommendations about which oil to use.

What About Older Cars?

There was a time when synthetic oil wasn’t recommended for older cars. When the oil was still new, it had very different formulations from today and contained esters: organic compounds mixed with alcohol. These older formulations weren’t ideal for older cars, but today’s synthetic oils are well-suited for all vehicles.

Why Switch to Synthetic?

  • Longer lasting: Synthetic oil lasts longer and resists breaking down, which provides better protection for all the moving parts in your engine.
  • Less frequent oil changes: Many manufacturers now have two recommended oil change intervals: longer if you use synthetic oil and shorter for regular oil. Check your owner’s manual, and don’t go any longer between oil changes than the manufacturer’s recommendation.
  • Improved heat tolerance: Synthetic oil resists breaking down under high temperatures, which makes it not only last longer than regular oil but also means it’s especially well suited for heavy-duty jobs.

Today’s synthetic oils offer numerous benefits over traditional motor oils. Consider making the switch the next time you’re due for an oil change.

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 switching to synthetic oil, chat with a knowledgeable expert at your local NAPA AUTO PARTS store.

Photo courtesy Flickr.

Nicole Wakelin View All

Nicole Wakelin covers the automotive industry as a freelance journalist for a variety of outlets. Her work includes news pieces, podcasts, radio, written reviews, and video reviews. She can be found in The Boston Globe, CarGurus, BestRide, US News and World Report, and AAA along with lifestyle blogs like Be Car Chic, The Other PTA, and She Buys Cars. She is active on social media with a large following on both Twitter and Instagram and currently serves as Vice President of the New England Motor Press Association.

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