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Is Synthetic Oil Bad for Old Engines?

edited November -1 in Repair and Maintenance
I am seeing some good deals on synthetic oils. I drive a 99 Camry with 150k miles. I have always changed my oil every 6 mo/7500 miles using regular oil but would like to try sysnthetic. My friend says I should stick to regular since sysnthetics are "lighter" and would leak more in an old engine. But aren't we comparing oils of the same viscosity?

BTW, there's nothing wrong with my car but it does have small oil leaks here and there that I am willing to live with (I had never had to top off oil between changes).
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Comments

  • edited May 2010
    There's no real benefit to using synthetic oil in a Camry. It's your money, however, so if you want to spend it, go ahead. Synthetic won't hurt anything, but it won't help anything, either, and it still costs more.

    You CANNOT extend the oil change interval just because you pour synthetic oil in the engine, so don't think you'll save money that way.

    At 150K miles, I say keep doing what you've been doing. Why change now?
  • edited May 2010
    [b][i]Several Decades Ago, I Switched From Low-Fat Milk To Skim Milk. We Know More About The Health Benefits Now. The Same Is True Of Motor Oil.[/i][/b]

    These types of changes can be made in steps, like going from 2% butter fat to 1% and then to skim.

    Buy your car a nice "blend" oil (part dinosaur / part synthetic) and see how it likes it (keep looking underneath for signs of incontinence). If all is well then make the next oil change full synthetic.

    You can always go back to dinosaur oil, but I don't know why you'd want to do it. I'm never going back to 1% or lowfat milk.

    As you have noticed we are in transition right now, moving from old fashioned oil to modern oil and the price difference is decreasing all the time. Your Toyota is a car senior citizen, born in the last century. However, I think it's a good time for you to come up to the 21st century. I say go for it.

    CSA
  • edited May 2010
    Should be no problem and I think the conventional wisdom is that you can go a bit longer between changes with synthetic oil.

    However, my particular anecdotal experience is - Last year I switched three of my cars, two '97 BMWs and one '91 Volvo from conventional to synthetic oil. The fourth car, a 2004, has always used synthetic. I switched from 20W50 conventional to 15W-50 synthetic.

    All three started leaking oil from one or more locations. The valve cover gaskets failed on all three. All three consumed more oil than they ever had before. They consumed more than they were leaking I am quite sure.

    I switched back and replaced valve cover gaskets and some seals. All is well in the driveway again.
  • edited May 2010
    I would agree; there is no real benefit in changing to synthetic oil unless you live in an extremely hot or extremely cold area.

    If I were you, based on the mileage you drive, 12500 miles/year, I would change oil more frequently, such as 4000 miles or 4 months. Keep using a good quality regular oil in the 5W30 weight. Your engine will likely outlive the rest of the car if you do that.

    Happy motoring!
  • edited May 2010
    [b][i]Questions: My Cars Run On Synthetic, But Don't Leak. Does This Mean That Dinosaur Oil Caused Your Leaks To Begin With Or Is There A Problem With BMWs And Volvos Or Your Particular Cars ?[/i][/b]

    CSA
  • edited May 2010
    [b][i]Did You Know That They Now Market High-Mileage Synthetic Oil For "Leakers" ?[/i][/b]
    CSA
  • edited May 2010
    From the Castrol Edge Synthetic Oil 1 QT bottle:
    "Guaranteed extended drain interval protection for 15,000 miles or one year, whichever comes first".

    I drive 20k miles a year, 95% of which is interstate highway miles @65-70 mph. I live in North Texas. I based the 6 mo/7500 mile schedule from the Camry Owner's manual. Based on my driving habits and what Toyota recommends, can you tell me why I should change oil more frequently?

    The thought of going 1 year between oil changes is appealing but not at the cost of a damaged engine.
  • edited May 2010
    Thanks for the further input. From the age an mileage, I surmised you did a lot of short trip stop and go driving. At 20,000 miles per year in North Texas, you are changing at the right interval, but you still get the best value from using a standard mineral oil and changing it at 7500 miles.

    Synthetic is not "bad" for your car, but it is EXTREMELY slippery and gets through tiny openings that normal mineral oil doet not penetrate. So, I predict that when you switch to synthetic your car will "use" more oil, but it will leak out through places you never suspected. However, do the experiment, but don't go 15,000 miles between changes. Those drain intervals are used to sell the oil and justify the higher price. If the car was new you would be voiding the Toyota engine warranty.

    Regardless of the Castrol claim on the bottle, I would not exceed the Toyota drain interval of 7500 miles. Does Castrol also recommend a 20,000 mile oil FILTER?

    I use Mobil 1 synthetic in our Nissan Sentra, which has a 4000 miles drain interval for severe service, which this car is used for (short trips). I drain it twice a year at about 4000 miles and change the filter. We live in a cold area, and do short trips with this car.
  • edited May 2010
    [b][i]Your Toyota Is On The "Most Wanted" List, The List Of Cars Most Wanted By Oil Sludge, That Is. Synthetic Handles Temperature Extremes Better And Is Less Likely To Form Sludge.[/i][/b]

    Any car that is known for oil sludge problems would especially benefit from synthetic. It could just save a sludging engine's life.

    Click and have a look at one of many engine people advocating synthetic oil:
    http://www.schleeter.com/oil-sludge.htm
    CSA
  • edited May 2010
    csa; the conclusions I draw from these sludge posts is that you need to CHANGE OIL MORE FREQUENTLY than even the manufacturer recommends, rather than switch to synthetic. My 2007 Toyota and all their other 2007 models have a 5000 miles interval for all conditions. Their experience with sludging has made them wiser.

    Synthetic oil is useful only for EXTREME conditions, such as very high and very low temperatures, heavy loads, turbo-charged engines.

    OP should heed the posts and never exceed his current oil change interval, regardless of the oil used.

    If OP goes to the long drain interval with Castrol synthetic he will certainly have sludging problems.

    However, people will always try to get something for nothing, sometimes with diastrous results.
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