• Should you switch to synthetic oil?

    Many things are said and written about engine synthetic oils. Do they cost extra? Do they protect better than mineral ones? Can we lengthen the interval between changes?


    All motor oils, whatever their type, fulfill many functions: to avoid friction, to seal components, to dissipate heat, to hold impurities in suspension, to prevent corrosion, and to succeed in doing so cold to crack stone or in a heat wave! Not to mention that today's engines are usually smaller than their ancestors, spin faster, reach higher temperatures and frequently use turbocharging. A real horror movie script, all that ...


    But fortunately there is not only the electronics of the vehicles that progresses. Fluid quality, including motor oil, is improving in a comparable way. But which one to use, and for reason?


    Understand these numbers and letters


    First, the names 5W30 and 10W40, for example, represent cold and hot viscosity indexes, separated by the letter W, meaning winter or winter. These modern multigrade oils, as opposed to old monograde fluids, adapt much better to our changing climates. All manufacturers recommend oil grades according to the conditions, which it is desirable to follow to the letter. More and more, for the sake of saving energy, we see oils such as the 0W20 used throughout the year in hybrid vehicles with frequent reboots.

    There are several organizations that ensure that the oils and fuels used in our vehicles are the best possible. The ACEA or the European Automobile Manufacturer 's Association, the API or the American Petroleum Institute, the ILSAC or the International Lubricant Standardization and Approval Committee, are the best known. In addition, several manufacturers have their own standards, particularly the European BMW , Mercedes-Benz and Volkswagen, which correspond to certain particular technologies such as diesel with turbos, particulate filters and urea injection.


    Enjoy the credibility of others


    But you've probably seen mentions such as "meets or exceeds the API CM standard " on motor oil containers. These fluids are not certified by large organizations, but rather marketed as such by their manufacturers.

    It is up to the consumer to ensure that the oil in his engine is actually certified and approved by the manufacturer of his vehicle, as well as ACEA , API and ILSAC . To go beyond this simple verification can be expensive, very expensive, since nothing will oblige the manufacturer to respect his own guarantee if non-compliant fluids are used and mechanical problems occur.

    The motorist must also understand that it is not essential to buy a specific brand of oil over another. That's just a question of marketing and commercial agreements between companies. Because any oil meeting international standards will meet the mechanical requirements of its manufacturer if it is the right type, for example a 5W30 viscosity grade and API SM standard .


    Synthetic oil is not for you ...


    If you rent a vehicle and do not intend to buy it at the end of the lease, there is no point in paying more for a motor oil than the one already requested by your builder. Stick to the recommendations and the frequency of emptying, nothing more.

    And if you own a vehicle whose mechanical warranty has expired, but you want to keep the same oil replacement intervals as they were decades ago, or three months or 5000 kilometers, the adoption of the synthetic oil will probably not be worth the expense.


    Some urban legends about synthetic oil


    No, you do not have to worry about switching to synthetic oil after using mineral oil for years. Best synthetic motor oil are popular on the market and there is no contraindication, even for older engines.

    Neither is it necessary to perform a special flushing of the engine between the two types of fluids, normal draining remaining largely effective. And using a synthetic oil will not tear tons of oil from an old engine at the risk of clogging filters and components, since all oils since the 1950s have detergent elements.


    Finally, the running of the engine is carried out correctly, whether it is mineral or synthetic oil. And the additives, sold at high prices, are not a good idea since the synthetic oils have all the qualities and elements required whatever the conditions.


    A government suggestion


    Moreover, the Quebec Energy Efficiency Agency recommends the use of synthetic oils. "We are spreading the good news about their efficiency, their energy savings, but it's up to people to choose them," says the government agency, which tests fuel consumption with these fluids, including heavy machinery used in the forest.

    Given these tests, there is every reason to believe that a five to seven percent reduction in consumption is perfectly achievable. In fact, according to the agency's calculations, as soon as a motorist travels more than 10,000 kilometers per year, the additional cost required for synthetic oils is offset by the fuel saved.


    For ecology too


    The adoption of synthetic oils is also an ecological measure capable of reducing the amount of greenhouse gases ( GHGs ) generated by the combustion of fuels. Remember that for a liter consumed by a car or a motorcycle, 2.4 kilos of gas amplify the problem of global warming.

    And that's without counting the savings in natural resources, since these oils last longer and therefore require less emptying.


    What frequency of emptying?


    Precisely: if there is a question difficult to elucidate, it is the number of kilometers that can travel a vehicle whose engine bathes in the synthetic oil.

    In Europe, Volkswagen recommends 15,000 to 50,000 kilometers if the vehicle is equipped with a computer calculating the degree of wear of its fluids. Renault is not outdone with its 30,000 kilometers, while Opel is not cold with his 50,000 kilometers accepted between oil changes!

    Of course, this depends on fuel quality, driving conditions and required performance. Here, as long as the engine is under warranty, we do not play with it, even if the intervals rarely exceed 15,000 kilometers. Thereafter, nothing prevents you from doing your own tests and research.