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The most that will happen is that your engine will build up sludge quicker. But depending on the type of car though, this might be a different story for each engine.
Some engines are explicitly manufactured for synthetic oil. Especially the newer models with high-powered motors. These machines demand better oil as their performance is much higher than, say, a Volvo. A conventional oil won’t be able to coat the engine as quickly as a synthetic, resulting in quicker wear and tear.
Another drawback of conventional oil is the oil change intervals will be much quicker. Synthetic oil, for example, can last far above 5000 miles, whereas the traditional oil will barely hold for 3000 miles.
That being said, conventional oil will not and cannot damage your car in the short term, and if you’re desperate, it will work just fine.
Can you mix synthetic and regular oil?
Blends have been an option since the 1960s, and a synthetic and conventional mix is quite beneficial, especially if you’re on a budget. A synthetic blend will have most of the benefits of plain synthetic but can be around 30% cheaper.
If you’re going to blend the oil, then be sure to use the recommended viscosity. For example, use a 5W30 if your car asks for 5W30 viscosity oil. This can still be a synthetic blend, but the viscosity has to be correct for your engine. Also, it is lovely to use better oil in a car that asks for something less, but don’t use a blend if your machine requires full synthetic. This can be pretty damaging to your vehicle.
Is synthetic oil worth the cost?
Yes and no. Your driving habits will determine if it’s worth it.
Synthetic oil is far better than conventional in protecting the engine. There is just no getting around that. It has a longer lifespan, doesn’t build up sludge as quickly, helps with cold starts, and will coat your engine much better, thus preventing wear and tear. But synthetic oil is costly, and not everyone can go out and buy a bottle.
A good rule of thumb is if you’re using your car for mostly short drives (in and around town), synthetic oil will last much, much longer, and the price would more likely even out.
If you’re prone to driving long distances and like to clock up the mileage, then a synthetic blend will be a bit more cost-effective and should still protect your engine effectively.
Another point to consider is the weather. Conventional oil breaks down faster in hotter climates and causes sludge build-up much quicker. If you’re in a scorching environment, a blend might suit you better. The same applies to colder temperatures. Synthetic oil will protect your engine from cold starts; conventional oil is not as effective.
Please speak to your local mechanic and ask them what will be best for your car. The make and model will have a significant impact on the type of oil you should be using.
If I start using synthetic oil, can I still switch back to conventional oil?
Yes! A very persistent myth about synthetic oil is that it somehow changes how the engine functions and so binds you to use it forever. This is not the case. Blends, which are a mixture of synthetic and conventional oil, prove this myth completely wrong.
You can switch back to conventional oil at any time. The only recommendation is to use the same type of oil when you want to do a top-up.
Howdy! I’m John Robinson from Levittown, New York. I am a mechanical engineer for 15 years and already had an established car repair company. I developed a personal relationship with cars since I was a kid. I always love the sounds and smell emitted by a car or truck and even at construction machinery. Since then I have been married but my love for cars only grew.