Synthetic Oil - Once and Forever?

I recently took my 2008 Camry (bought used with 10k miles) to the dealer for its first oil change at which time they automatically provided 0W-20 Synthetic oil - at nearly twice the price of regular oil! My mechanic says I must now use only synthetic oil going forward. I have two questions: (1) Do you agree that I must now use only synthetic oil going forward? (2) What is the recommended mileage betweeen oil changes when using synthetic oil vs. “regular” oil? The owners manual simply states 5,000 miles using ILSAC multigrade engine oil.

Carefully read that owner’s manual Make sure any oil used meets those specifications. Unless the dealer has something from Toyota they are wrong. Also it is not true that you can not change from regular to synthetic and back. You can change back and forth as often as you like as long it it meets the specifications in the manual.

There is NO difference in recommended change intervals unless it is printed in that owner's manual

The fact the dealer is telling you things that are not true, is in itself a good reason not to give that dealer any of your money.

Got to ask: Why are you getting oil changes at the dealer? There is no requirement that you go to the dealer for oil changes or other maintenance, unless they provide the service for free.

   Dealers are no better (or worse) than independent mechanics for almost anything you might need done on your car.  They will almost always charge more per hour and often more for parts and supplies.  They also tend to look at repairs a little different than the independent. 

A dealer may well recommend work that strictly may not be needed, but could be connected to the problem or maybe replace a part when a little repair would fix it ALMOST as good a new.  

There is no need to bring your car to the dealer for any service other than service that is going to be paid for by a recall or original warrantee.  During the warranty period be sure to have all required (as listed in the owner's manual) maintenance done and to document all maintenance work.

I suggest that most people would be better off finding a good independent (Not working for a chain) mechanic. 

Note: Never ever use a quick oil change place. They are fast cheap and very very bad.

Your mechanic must be a dinosaur.

Synthetic oil and conventional oil are interchangeable. You can switch back and forth at will. You can mix the two together. No harm will result.

DO NOT extend the oil change interval if you decide to continue with synthetic. Change the oil according to the schedule in the owner’s manual.

Personally, I’d stick with “regular” oil unless the owner’s manual specifies synthetic.

Thanks for the quick reply! A clarification - I took the car to the dealer for the first oil change to redeem the 25% coupon (figured it would be about the same as taking it to my non-dealer mechanic). The advice to use only synthetic oil going forward came from an independent mechanic who I have not used in the past, but is a member of my networking group - and one I would like to send some business to.

Is 0-20w the recommended weight?

As was said, your mechanic’s knowledge about motor oil is about 20 years out of date if he believes that you have to stick with synthetic oil. You can certainly go back to “conventional” motor oil, as long as it meets Toyota’s specification.

As to oil change intervals, the determining question is:
Do you want to keep your engine’s warranty in effect?

If you want to preserve your warranty protection, you must adhere strictly to Toyota’s maintenance schedule. There is no dispensation given for synthetic motor oil.

Once the warranty has expired, feel free to push your oil change intervals to 7,500 miles with synthetic oil–as long as the engine is not being subjected to “Severe Service” (see maintenance schedule for definition of severe service).

It is correct (within specification) to use 0W-20 anywhere that 5W-20 is called for. 0W gives you slightly better protection against startup wear.

“Synthetic motor oil” is not a performance specification. The only thing “synthetic” accurately states about a motor oil is that one paid several times more than for a refined oil. There are no superior performance specifications required of an oil marketed as synthetic, only that synthetic manufacturing processes be used to produce.

Synthetic motor oil can be superior to refined oil, but only if the manufacturer makes the effort. No matter the manufacturing method used, both are still “motor oil” and interchangeable. The possible advantage of synthetic manufacturing is the engineer can consistently pick and chose the desired cocktail of hydrocarbons, if only he would, and if only he knows what makes a superior motor oil. Is harder to control the exact mix only using refining techniques.

I believe Mobil-1 is a superior product but I trust the brand Mobil-1 more than the word “synthetic.”

You might find the following website informative:

No they are not interchangable for all cars. Our two GM cars with chain driven overhead camshafts specify synthetic oil.

If the owner’s manual specifies synthetic oil, how can you say that they are interchangable and then in the same post, say to do what the owner’s manual specifies?

They ARE interchangeable, except where synthetic is specifically called for. If it isn’t it doesn’t matter which you use, and you can switch back anytime.

I think it is time for a new mechanic that knows his stuff and does not listen to old wives tales.