While the first fully synthetic oil was created during WWII for aircraft engines, it wasn’t until the early 1970s that it began to be used for automobiles and light trucks.
Since we started using synthetic oil, the quandary has always been how often to change it. There is no question synthetic engine oil lasts longer than conventional mineral-based oil. However, most synthetic oil manufacturers simply defer to the auto manufacturer’s recommended oil change intervals.
For most vehicle owners, paying the extra price for synthetic oil and changing it at the recommend interval was simply not cost effective and extending the oil change interval would commonly void the manufacturer’s warranty. As a result, for the first thirty years of its existence, synthetic oil was a very small player in the marketplace.
That all began to change in the last few years. Ever evolving technology has resulted in more and more power being squeezed out of smaller and smaller engines. These high performance engines put increased demands on the engine oil; therefore, manufacturers have determined it’s necessary to use synthetic oil to properly protect them.
Currently, these “high performance” engines are found in sports and luxury vehicles. You can be sure this requirement will filter down to more vehicles as high performance technology trickles down. In the not-too-distant future, I would expect that more new vehicles will be using synthetic oil than not.
Since manufacturers began recommending synthetic engine oil, they have extended the recommend oil change interval. This helps offset the increased cost associated with each oil change. It’s critical for us to use synthetic oil when recommend—failure to do so will void the manufacturer’s warranty and can result in premature engine failure.
Like always, it’s best to follow the manufacturer’s recommendation as to what kind of oil to use and when to change it!
Have you ever used synthetic oil in an engine that did not require it?