All Motor Oil Is Not the Same

Today’s Post by Joe Farace

In a recent study from AAA, their engine oil research used eight industry-standard American Society for Testing and Materials tests to evaluate the quality of synthetic and conventional engine oils in terms of shear stability, deposit formation, volatility, cold-temperature pumpability, oxidation resistance and oxidation-induced rheological changes.

AAA found that synthetic oil outperformed conventional oil by an average of almost 50 percent, offering significantly better engine protection for about $5 more per month when following factory-recommended oil change schedule. That’s why, to protect your car’s engines, especially those operating in extreme conditions, AAA urges drivers to consider switching to synthetic oil at their next oil change.

I noticed that for the last oil change we had done on Mary’s 2016 VW Beetle convertible, our preferred shop—Parker Imports—used 5W40 Pentosin. I had never heard of this company but Deutsche Pentosin-Werke GmbH was founded in 1927 in Hamburg, Germany and is recognized as a innovator and manufacturer of synthetic and mineral oil-based fluids for the automotive industry.

AAA’s findings indicate that synthetic oil is particularly beneficial to newer vehicles with turbo-charged engines, like Mary’s turbo-powered VW, and for vehicles that frequently drive in stop-and-go traffic, tow heavy loads or operate in extreme hot or cold conditions. A survey of AAA’s Approved Auto Repair facilities showed the average cost of a conventional oil change is $38, while a synthetic oil change is $70. For those that change their vehicle’s oil themselves, the average cost of five quarts of conventional oil is approximately $28, while synthetic oil is $45. AAA’s survey also shows that 83% of auto service professionals choose synthetic oil for their personal vehicles.

Just as important is your oil change frequency. Volkswagen, for example recommends that most of their vehicles have oil changes every 10,000 miles or at least once every calendar year if you don’t drive that often. But savvy mechanics recommended oil changes at 5000 miles; we don’t drive the Beetle that much, less than 5000 miles a year, so right now an annual oil change works for us. But that may change if I continue to drive it while waiting for the new JoeCar to arrive.

Mary’s company car is a Ford Escape and her company, not Ford, recommends a 7500 mile oil change interval and recently, before she hit the next 7500 miles, her car, as they say in NASCAR, “blowed up real good.” Her engine was replaced under warranty, you may not be so lucky.


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