Synthetic oil or coventional oil

I’m been changing my 1988 Toyota Camry with conventional oil and was wondering if i should switch to synthetic oil. Whats the main difference aside from the difference in price to conventional oil? Pros/Cons

Better cold starting (when REALLY cold), better flowability when cold, slightly higher mileage due to less friction, less engine wear over the long run. has a good primer on oils.

Personally, I think you’d be wasting your money putting synthetic into a 1988 Honda that’s running fine.

We had a number of posts on this in the past. Synthetic oil really shines in extreme conditions; very hot, or very cold. If you park outside in the winter, and cannot use an engine block heater, synthetic oil will flow at even very low temperatures and provide rapid lubrication to your valve gear. In such a situation, I would highly recommend it.

Since it has about the same additives as regular oil, it will not provide an extended drain interval; so you still have to change oil as per your owners manual. On the other hand, if you drive very little (5000 miles/year), you can use 5W30 synthetic and change it once a year, since the viscosity will be OK for summer as well as winter.

If you live in Seattle and drive a normal amount, synthetic oil is really a waste of money, since you still need to change just as often at 3-4 times the cost.

In addition, since synthetic is very thin and very slippery, your 1988 car may start using oil since the regular oil was thick enough to fill the gaps. Your valve gear may also get noisy, especially if your past oil changes have not been as frequent as they should ahve been.

You could try one oil change on synthetic, like Mobil 1 (a true synthetic)and see how the car sounds. Make sure you check your oil frequently.

Good Luck

Using any modern oil is nearly like using a synthetic back in 1988. I would stick to what you have been doing.

I heard that synthetic oil can make an old engine to leak!

I heard that synthetic oil can make an old engine to leak!

Not with the oils out today.  

However in this case I doubt if changing will do anything more than to cost a little more.

I use full synthetic in my car --also an '88-- and have suffered no leakage or oil loss.
However, I’m only using synthetic b/c the car’s turbocharged. If I had a N/A car, I wouldn’t bother with it (because of cost). Just making sure you keep up with regular oil changes is the most important thing.

One side note though: If you DO decide to go synthetic in an older car, you may want to do 2 to 3 oil changes within the first 3k miles b/c the syn is gonna pick up a lot of stuff left by the dino oil.
The first time I switched to synthetic, I poured the oil in, checked the oil level (nice and full and clean), drove the car AROUND THE BLOCK, then checked the oil again—> Pitch black. Looked like it had 10k miles on it. Yah, I was a little miffed. Wound up doing two more oil changes within the first 2k miles before the oil started retaining its clarity. Now though, the oil looks good for nearly the entire 3k miles.

On a 10yo car that’s running good…WHY???

You have the 5W50 Castrol in a big can just waiting to be bought. You will never know the answer to your question, but it doesn’t cost a lot more to switch.