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When you drive a modern vehicle, you’ll naturally be required to use modern maintenance products. Synthetic oil is the new norm for the majority of on-demand delivery and rideshare cars, which means knowing how often to change synthetic oil is no longer optional.
A fact that many drivers aren’t yet aware of is that traditional 3,000-mile oil change intervals are actually outdated for most modern vehicles. Whether you have a car using full synthetic oil or a vehicle that was made after 2012, it’s time to rethink when you’re getting your next oil change.
If you want to save money and time, read along to understand how often to change synthetic oils and learn more about this high-quality engine oil.
- Synthetic Oil vs. Conventional Oil
- What Are Synthetic Blend Oils?
- How Often to Change Synthetic Oil
- Can I Switch to Synthetic Oil?
- Frequently Asked Questions
Synthetic Oil vs. Conventional Oil
Both traditional and synthetic oils are used as lubrication for your car’s engine, but there are big differences between the two. Firstly, conventional oil is made from naturally occurring crude oil, whereas synthetic oils are artificially made. Because of this, synthetic motor oil is not only longer lasting, but it’s more environmentally friendly, too.
Synthetic oils also tend to remain far more stable in extreme temperatures. They’re able to perfectly withstand high heat and freezing temperatures, unlike their traditional counterparts.
For on-demand drivers, who tend to practice severe driving — this includes your many standard hours of idling, stop-and-go-traffic, and short trips each day — synthetic oils will also break down much slower than regular oil. These artificially made oils will protect your engine for longer, so you won’t have to worry about immense repairs when you’re looking to earn.
What Are Synthetic Blend Oils?
Sometimes known as part-synthetic or semi-synthetic oils, synthetic blend oils are mixtures of synthetic and conventional oils. This helps you get some of the best qualities of synthetic oils — like resistance to high temperatures, grime buildup, and oxidation — with a far lower price tag.
It’s hard to say exactly how much more or less effective synthetic blends are from their competitors, but blends with higher synthetic to conventional oil ratios will get you results far closer to full synthetic oils. Because of this fact, many drivers opt to purchase more affordable synthetic blend oils, unless their manufacturer’s recommendations specify a need for full synthetic engine oil.
How Often to Change Synthetic Oil
Synthetic oils are the longest-lasting type of engine oil in the automotive industry, which means following traditional 3,000-mile intervals would be a waste of time and money. While there’s nothing wrong with getting early oil changes, you’re flushing perfectly good oil if you’re heading to the auto shop before the end of your oil’s life span.
That said, synthetic oil change intervals do vary quite a bit. Your synthetic oil life will typically be at least 7,000 miles, but some products from brands like Mobil 1 can last as long as 15,000 miles (about a year for rideshare drivers) without a change.
To best determine the optimal service intervals for your vehicle, we recommend consulting your owner’s manual. While some oils are created to have greatly extended lifespans, some engines need more frequent oil changes to remain healthy.
In addition, you should change your synthetic oil when traditional signs of wear appear. Pop open your hood and pull out your oil change dipstick, then look for two critical signs of wear: a very dark brown or black coloring and a sludge-like appearance. If you see either of these, bring your vehicle into the shop. If your oil level falls below the lowest notch on your dipstick, but the coloring and consistency looks healthy, you just need to top off your current oil so it falls between the notches.
Can I Switch to Synthetic Oil?
Understanding how often to change synthetic oil will naturally make car owners want to switch, as it increases your overall lifetime savings, but proper car maintenance is all about knowing what products are suited for your car.
Switching to full synthetic or synthetic blend oil is typically possible. However, if you don’t follow the right process or purchase the right product, the chemical mixtures in synthetic motor oils, can cause damage to your conventional oil engine over time.
We recommend consulting with a professional, whether they’re an auto parts store employee or a mechanic, before fully switching from conventional to synthetic. In addition, when you officially change oils, always make sure to change your oil filter to prevent any issues that may arise from mixing formulas.
For older engines, we also highly recommend getting a complete engine flush to ensure all of your conventional oil and debris remnants are removed from the car. This way, your new type of oil essentially enters a clean slate and its performance is maximized.
On the flip side, if you’re looking to switch from full synthetic oil to a synthetic blend, you must consult your owner’s manual first. If your owner’s manual requires the use of full synthetic oil, it is critical that you never change to conventional oil or synthetic blend oil, as doing so can lead to significant damage to your engine.
Frequently Asked Questions
Even if you’re using high-quality synthetic oil in your vehicle, your car’s oil remains an extremely important part of your vehicle maintenance routine. Keep your vehicle functioning like a brand new car with these helpful answers to frequently asked questions:
1. How much do synthetic oil changes cost?
Synthetic oil changes can actually cost as little as $45. On the highest end of the scale, a synthetic oil change costs about $70. While at first sight this may appear to be a large out-of-pocket expense, remember it’s possible for oil changes to be a once-per-year cost, which means you’ll surely be saving money in the long run.
Plus, because oil changes are directly related to your rideshare or delivery career, they typically qualify as tax deductions, which means you won’t have to worry about the cost at the end of the year.
2. Can I change synthetic oil at home?
While you can change your own oil straight from home, we highly recommend bringing it into the auto shop for professional help. If you don’t have the experience, synthetic oil changes (much like conventional oil changes) can take up to an hour to complete. Independent and dealership mechanics who are knowledgeable about the process can complete it in as little as 15 minutes.
Additionally, turning your oil changes into a DIY project will force you to save and deliver your used engine oil to an auto parts store for recycling, adding a second trip to your busy driving schedule.
3. How often should I check my synthetic oil for signs of wear?
Most experts recommend checking your oil by pulling out your engine oil dipstick once per month, though we highly recommend doing so once per week. Because on-demand contractors drive under severe conditions, it’s important to keep a close eye on your motor oil, especially when it begins to darken in color.
Frequent checking will also provide you with warning signs about other issues in your car. For example, milky colored engine oil can be a sign of coolant leaking in due to a blown gasket or damaged casings.
4. Can I switch from synthetic oil to conventional oil?
As long as you have a conventional oil engine, this shouldn’t cause any problems for your vehicle as long as your oil filter is switched, too. However, we don’t encourage it, as synthetic oil provides benefits that beat conventional oil in pretty much every category. The only reason to switch between these oils is if you truly cannot afford the upfront cost, though synthetic oil will save you money over time.
Keep Your Engine in Prime Condition
Knowing how often to change synthetic oil will ensure that your engine stays healthy and that you can save money throughout your vehicle’s lifespan. Because synthetic oils are created artificially, they’re built to protect your car from the most severe driving conditions and weather. In doing so, they naturally protect you from making expensive engine repairs, so you can continue earning with your favorite apps.
Another automotive fluid that every driver needs to maintain is their often forgotten brake fluid. Learn how often to change brake fluid and never let this vehicle maintenance task slip your mind again.
Brett Helling is the owner of Ridester.com. He has been a rideshare driver since early 2012, having completed hundreds of trips for companies including Uber, Lyft, and Postmates. In 2014 he acquired Ridester.com to share his experiences with other drivers. His insights are regularly quoted by publications such as Forbes, Vice, CNBC, and more. He is currently working on a book about working in the Gig Economy, expanding his skill set beyond the rideshare niche. Read more about Brett here.