What is the difference between Synthetic & Regular Oil?

Honda Genuine Parts


You’ve probably heard it a few times before, oil is the lifeblood of your car. And it’s true. Oil literally keeps your engine running smoothly and if that oil is low, old, dirty, or not there at all, you can guarantee engine damage.

When it comes right down to it, your Honda car, SUV or truck asks very little of us in exchange for giving us years and years and miles and miles of faithful service. One thing they do require of us though is to always make sure the engine is properly lubricated with oil so it can keep running smoothly. Fortunately, that’s very easy to do. But then comes the question, what is the right oil for the vehicle you’re driving? What do all those numbers mean like 5W and 10W, and 30 and 40? Are you not giving your car the oil it needs, or are you overpaying for an oil type your car really doesn’t need?  We have all those answers and more!

Synthetic vs Conventional Oil

When it comes to oil, there are many reasons to lean toward man-made (synthetic) over “natural” (conventional).

Conventional motor oil is refined from crude oil. Synthetic oil is created using compounds that yield the best aspects of crude oil but add additional performance enhancements. Conventional oil works just fine, won’t hurt your car, and is very effective when oil changes are done frequently. Synthetic oils, however, contain special additives that help remove deposits and contaminants so that the oil flows better at lower temperatures and the viscosity holds up better at higher temperatures. There’s less risk of engine sludge and buildup. It’s considered so much better for engines that many vehicles are starting to require synthetic motor oil. On top of all that, synthetic oil helps your oil filter function better. 

But probably the biggest benefit to you as the vehicle owner is synthetic motor oil doesn’t break down nearly as fast as conventional oil. You might be changing your oil every 3,000 miles or so with conventional oil, but if you were using synthetic oil, you’d likely only need to do oil changes once every 6,000-7,500 miles! And you can easily schedule an express oil change at Honda of Lake Jackson either by phone or you can schedule online.

Do I have to change my Honda vehicle oil regularly?

Yes - unless you enjoy spending money on a full engine replacement.

Over time, motor oil loses viscosity and thickness, meaning it’s not really serving its purpose as an effective lubricant anymore. Engine parts travel at very high speeds, and if the lubricant is not there, parts start rubbing against each other. Like arthritis in people. Many people have regrettable tales to tell of “burning up” their engine. Plus, the oil has been running around and around the engine, cleaning out deposits and contaminants, so oil does get “dirty.”

Most engines need five to eight quarts of oil, depending on engine size. A 4-cylinder engine usually requires around five quarts, a 6-cylinder uses roughly six, and an 8-cylinder engine will need anywhere from five to eight, depending on size. If your oil light comes on or you’re getting a low reading on the oil pressure gauge, that means the oil level is too low. Eventually, you’ll start feeling the engine running rougher. 

Your auto’s manual or your Honda of Lake Jackson Service Center Technician will be clear about how often you should change your oil, based on either time or number of miles driven.

What Does ‘Weight’ of Oil Refer to?

The higher the number, the thicker the oil and the slower it will flow over the engine. Why would you want an oil that’s thicker and flows slower? It offers more protection against heat and friction when the engine is running at 210 degrees, which is typical for most motors. 

But you often see two numbers on oil bottles, like 10W-30. Which one is the weight? The answer is both. The oil is engineered to have different viscosity at different engine temperatures. And you want this. Because when you start your vehicle cold, you want the oil to flow to and around the engine quickly so that all the vital parts are protected. But then as the engine heats up, you want the thicker, maximum protection. You get the best of both worlds.

How Do I Know Which Oil I Need?

Fortunately, your car or truck’s manufacturer knows what’s best for it and all you have to do is check the user manual or https://owners.honda.com/servicemaintenance/minder to know what’s best. But be prepared, the manual will probably give you a range of oil options because it doesn’t know what kind of climate you usually drive in, or if you’ll be stressing your engine by carrying or towing heavy loads. (We’ll assume you’re a good person and not speeding and getting your engine up to NASCAR temperatures.) And those variables matter.

Your manual might also recommend that once your vehicle goes over 75,000 miles, you switch to a high-mileage oil. These have conditioners in it that help expand the internal engine seals and increase their flexibility.

Do Hybrid Vehicles need Oil Changes too?

As mentioned above, how you drive is one of the factors that determines what kind of motor oil is best for your vehicle. With a hybrid car or truck, some safe assumptions can be made about how you’re going to be driving.

Hybrid vehicles involve constant switching between the gas and electric motor, especially in city and urban settings where there’s a lot of stop/start driving. This means there’s less strain on the motor and it has fewer moving parts, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t still an engine under the hood that needs lubrication in order to avoid being damaged. Most manufacturers recommend a synthetic 20W oil.

And remember, because you’re using synthetic, you’ll probably only need to change the oil in your hybrid ever 7500 miles, making it an even lower maintenance choice.  

Regardless of if you’re driving a new or used Toyota car or truck, a standard engine or a hybrid, or a used vehicle acquired from our Toyota dealership, you can always consult the vehicle’s manual or find the answers you’re looking for online regarding what kind of oil you should be using and what your oil change schedule should be. Or contact the service department at Honda of Lake Jackson and they will be happy to offer guidance on the best ways to care for and maintain your vehicle.