Conventional or synthetic oil: Does it matter?

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Conventional or synthetic oil: Does it matter?

Have you noticed all the buzz lately around synthetic lubricants? While it’s true that synthetic lubricants have a higher initial cost than conventional, it’s important to compare that to the savings of reduced downtime. In the long run, switching to synthetic can save you money.


Synthetic oils are created using a more complex refining process, and depending on the group, they’re chemically synthesized to create perfect chemical structures. These processes remove most of the impurities in the finished base oil and lead to an improved viscosity index and overall better performance. From there, manufacturers add an additive package for superior performance. These additives are designed to exceed the performance demands of today’s technology and equipment in vehicles.

Conventional oils are typically made from less-refined base oils (group I and group II) and an additive performance package that assists the oil in doing its job. Conventional oils are popular because of their lower price point, but synthetic oils outperform them, especially in applications that are subject to harsh Western-Canadian weather.

Conventional oils have their place in the market. If your machinery isn't subject to harsh operating conditions, conventional oils can often provide adequate protection. But if you’re looking to get the most power generation, fuel economy and performance in extreme temperatures, you’ll want to switch to a synthetic fluid.

Synthetic benefits

Maintains viscosity at varying temperatures

Synthetic oils have a high-viscosity index, which means that the oil will remain relatively the same thickness at a wide variety of temperatures. Synthetic oils will remain thin enough to flow at cold temperatures but at the same time remain thick enough to prevent metal-on-metal contact at higher temperatures. Conventional oils will often get too thin or too thick to provide full protection over a wide temperature range.

Resists breakdown

Synthetic oils resist oxidative thickening better than conventional oils, moving through the engine components more smoothly and efficiently than do conventional oils. Synthetic oils also have longer oil life and provide longer oil drain intervals than conventional oils. Simply put, synthetic oil allows you to go longer between oil changes.

Produces fewer deposits

When conventional oils break down, they can leave deposits behind on engine components, and these deposits are sometimes referred to as sludge or varnish. These can end up costing you more money down the road when these deposits lead to engine problems. Synthetic oil does not break down as easily, reducing the chance for deposits.

CO-OP® Premium Lubricants meet your needs

When the time comes to choose your new lubricant, your local Co-op has all the synthetic and synthetic-blend options you could possibly want, which is especially important during the cold weather months.

FCL recently completed a cold box testing program that measured the low-temperature pumpability of our D-MO® (Diesel Motor Oil) Synthetic 0W-40. In a direct comparison with two competitor oils with the same viscosity, D-MO Synthetic 0W-40 flows better at lower temperatures, meaning your equipment is easier to start, and oil gets to critical parts more quickly than competitor oils.

Have questions? Your local Co-op is here to help you navigate the world of conventional and synthetic oils.

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