New AAA study shows synthetic oil provides nearly 50 percent better engine protection

BOISE – (June 6, 2017) – Some drivers may be skeptical about paying more for oil change upgrades, but a new AAA study shows that switching to synthetic oil can add significant engine protection for many vehicles, under a variety of conditions.

AAA’s study compares 5W20 synthetic oils from five major brands with their conventional equivalents across eight industry-standard tests designed to measure oil quality. The study found that synthetic oil offers up to 47 percent better engine protection than a conventional option.

“Synthetic oil reduces friction and provides a more effective coating for critical engine components,” says AAA Idaho spokesman Matthew Conde. “Oxidation is a leading factor in engine sludge and buildup.  Synthetic oil reduces oxidation, and prevents or reduces the blockage of oil galleries that distribute oil throughout the engine.”

AAA’s new study does not suggest that conventional oil is bad for consumer vehicles, as long as it meets manufacturer specifications. The purpose of the study was to address lingering consumer uncertainty about the possible benefits of investing in synthetic oil.  A companion AAA survey finds that 44 percent of U.S. drivers are either unsure or do not believe that the more-expensive synthetic oil is better for a vehicle’s engine.


A treat for cars – under certain conditions

A switch from conventional to synthetic oil will cost the average driver $64 more per year – an extra $5.33 per month. A survey of AAA Approved Auto Repair facilities estimates the average cost of a conventional oil change at $38, versus $70 for a synthetic oil change.  For the DIY crowd, the average cost for five quarts of conventional oil is $28, while the cost of synthetic oil is $45.

“Synthetic oil is well-suited for vehicles operating in extreme hot and cold conditions, frequently traveling in stop-and-go traffic, or hauling a trailer or fifth wheel,” Conde said. “While manufacturer-approved conventional oil will not harm a vehicle’s engine, the extra investment per oil change could reduce the need to replace important engine parts later on.”


Premium engine oil adds value, but premium fuel might not

A previous AAA study notes that paying for premium fuel that exceeds manufacturer recommendations yields no major performance benefit. Rather than purchase an unnecessary grade of fuel, AAA recommends that drivers select a TOP TIER fuel product that contains an appropriate blend of cleaners and additives.

“Spending more for vehicle maintenance is a personal decision that motorists should make after carefully considering how it will affect their budget,” Conde said.


which to use?

AAA’s research concludes that nearly one-third of drivers use conventional oil in their vehicle, while 45 percent use synthetic. Nearly one-quarter of drivers are not sure what kind of oil is being used in their vehicle.

For purposes of AAA’s study, synthetic blends were not tested, as the product line is ill-defined. Five major oil brands were selected, and the products marketed as “synthetic” and “conventional” were compared.  While oils specifically made for diesel engines were not evaluated, synthetic oil should offer the same benefits for diesel owners.

“Our goal is to keep motorists informed,” Conde said. “When people invest in a conventional or synthetic oil change, we’re not comparing ‘bad’ and ‘good’.  We’re talking about ‘better’ and ‘best.’”