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What’s the difference between synthetic and regular oil?

Synthetic motor oil is derived from man-made ingredients, while conventional motor oil is derived from crude oil. Thanks to these man-made ingredients, synthetic oils are purer than conventional oils. They're also considerably more uniform in molecular structure than conventional oils. That's why synthetic oils lubricate vehicle engines more smoothly and last longer than conventional oils. Synthetic oil may prolong your engine life -- and it's easier on the environment than regular oil.

Here are five reasons synthetic oil is better for your car (and the environment) than conventional oil:

  • Longer oil life: The typical newer car has an oil change interval of 7,500 miles partially based on the assumption that full synthetic or synthetic blend oil will be used.
  • Stability at extreme temperatures: Synthetic oil helps your engine stay cooler in hot weather and start more easily in cold weather.
  • Fuel efficiency: By reducing engine friction, synthetic oil helps you get the best mileage out of your vehicle.
  • Better for your engine: Synthetic oil provides improved lubrication for engine parts and less sludge buildup, thanks to its chemical purity and molecular consistency.
  • Better for our planet: In addition to boosting gas mileage, synthetic oil helps reduce emissions and oil burn-off every mile you drive. And the longer time between oil changes means less oil (and packaging!) is used and recycled.

But don’t take our word for it. In a 2017 study, AAA found1 that synthetic engine oils performed an average of 47 percent better than conventional oils in a variety of industry-standard tests. According to John Nielsen, AAA’s managing director of Automotive Engineering and Repair: "With its superior resistance to deterioration, AAA's findings indicate that synthetic oil is particularly beneficial to newer vehicles with turbocharged engines and for vehicles that frequently drive in stop-and-go traffic, tow heavy loads or operate in extreme hot or cold conditions."

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  • In a study released June 6, 2017, AAA compared multiple brands of conventional and synthetic oil engine oil in eight industry-standard tests: shear stability, deposit formation, volatility, cold-temperature pumpability, oxidation resistance, and oxidation-induced rheological changes. Learn more about the AAA oil study.

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