What’s the Difference Between Conventional and Synthetic Oil?

By cpalmer | Posted in Service on Wednesday, May 26th, 2021 at 4:59 PM

At some point or another, every car owner has been presented with a question during a service visit: Conventional motor oil or synthetic? Each has its place, but there are some key differences between the two. Below are the distinctions we think you should know about before you schedule your next Honda oil change.

Conventional vs. Synthetic Oil


There is no difference in the appearance of conventional and synthetic oil, also known as premium. Both should be smooth, glossy, amber-colored, and reasonably transparent. If yours isn’t, it’s time to get it changed. 

Thickness, however, is another story. While still effective, conventional oil requires additives to remain thinner at low temperatures and thicker at high temperatures. Synthetic, on the other hand, is engineered from base oil of the highest possible quality, and therefore maintains the appropriate viscosity for the environment — even without additives.

Longevity and Replacement Frequency

While brand-dependent, synthetic oil can generally stretch an engine’s mileage between oil changes. Whereas many cars that operate on conventional oil require service every 3,000 to 5,000 miles, most synthetic oils are rated to last from 10,000 to 15,000 miles. You should always, of course, consult your owner’s manual for your model’s specific recommendations.


Motor oil is the only thing standing between the constantly moving parts of your engine and irreversible wear and tear. Conventional oil is protective to a certain degree, but it won’t hold up as long as its synthetic counterpart. Premium oils break down less easily, and that means they can preserve your engine’s life — sometimes well beyond 200,000 miles.

Synthetic oil tends to be cleaner, too. They consist of fewer impurities, which prevents deposit formation and sludge buildup.

Schedule Oil Service in Countryside, IL

At Continental Honda, we use whatever’s best for your car when performing oil changes at our service center in Countryside, Illinois. Whether it’s with a conventional or synthetic product, we’re happy to keep you moving around the greater Chicago area. Set your next appointment today, and make sure to check out our Honda service specials.

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