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Engine Oil: Synthetic vs. Regular


Many new vehicles are now requiring synthetic oil or are capable of using synthetic oil. But why is that?

We all know that changing your vehicle's oil on a routine basis is a requirement from proper engine care.
"Regular" conventional oils are mineral-based products refined from crude oil taken from the ground. The term "synthetic", however, does not imply that the oil is somehow created from man-made ingredients. Synthetic oil is, actually, made from natural ingredients using a special chemical process. As a result, the molecular chains in synthetic oil are more universal and similar in size and other properties. The main idea with using synthetic oil is that both the owner and vehicle benefit from using it.

How does this benefit you? Well here's a breakdown of just a few synthetic oil benefits...

  • Less frequent oil changes - Change your synthetic oil every 10,000 miles instead of every 5,000 miles
  • Lower service costs - Less frequent oil changes equals less money out of your pocket. PLUS it is believed that synthetic oil helps keep your engine running better for longer. This can mean fewer repairs, too!
  • Synthetic oil has molecules that are equal size. More uniform oil molecules equals better lubrication, and that equals better engine performance.
  • Synthetic oil stays slippery at colder temperatures than regular oil, and is therefor less likely to cause engine problems when started in cold climates.
  • Keeps your engine cleaner - Because a synthetic oil is chemically produced, there are no contaminants in the oil. By contrast, conventional oils contain small amounts of sulfur, wax, and asphalt material that can promote deterioration and sludge buildup.

Synthetic Oil Q&A

Q: Will I see a horsepower increase by using synthetic oil?
A: While much research has not been conducted regarding this manner, expected horsepower gains are estimated only to be negligible.

Q: Will I get better fuel economy with synthetic oil?
A: Much debate has arisen regarding this topic. Many factors are taken into account when analyzing fuel economy: rapid acceleration, highway vs. city driving, size of vehicle, etc. It is difficult to answer this question without taking a close look at your individual vehicle and driving style.

Q: If I buy synthetic oil, can I ever switch back to conventional?
A: Absolutely! Early versions of synthetic oil were not very compatible with cars of those days. Engines were not built to handle the thinner motor oil and would leak. One switched back to conventional oil, seals would become worn, corroded, and leak even worse. Nowadays, though, most manufacturers are adapting their vehicles to become synthetic oil-friendly. You should not have any problems switching back and forth from synthetic to conventional, or vise verse.

Q: I have an older vehicle with higher mileage. Will I see many benefits from using synthetic oil?
A: Probably not. It is most effective if synthetic oil is used from the beginning of its life cycle, right after the initial "break-in" period. While you might see a slightly better-performing engine, synthetic oil's biggest advantage of helping your engine last longer is lost due to the engine's already aged condition.

Q: Will switching to synthetic oil void my warranty?
N: No. However, sticking with Genuine Toyota synthetic motor oil would be the wisest choice.

Please verify with a certified Toyota Service Advisor before purchasing synthetic oil. Some cars are not capable of using synthetic motor oil and require conventional oil only.
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