Synthetic Blend vs Full Synthetic

Synthetic blend oil was first introduced in the 1960s, and people have been curious about the difference between it and full synthetic engine oil ever since. Firstly: synthetic is more expensive, but is commonly known as the superior choice when it comes to long-lasting engine protection. Since many drivers don't want to pay the price for full synthetic compounds, synthetic blends are offered by many manufacturers as a cost-effective, yet highly efficient alternative that is still superior to conventional mineral motor oil.

Synthetic Blend vs Full Synthetic Advance Auto

Why Is Full Synthetic Oil Used More Often?

Full synthetic oil is used more frequently for a number of reasons, but particularly because of the high efficiency of some synthetic brands. The extended oil blend intervals of up to 15,000 miles and the superior protection offered for power-intense engines are incredible benefits. Also, better machining and metallurgy means that engines can be built and assembled to far tighter tolerances than a generation ago, and synthetic offers superior protection for these engines. The newer standards for corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) also drive the need for low-viscosity oils that need to have a synthetic base, cutting friction and enhancing overall engine efficiency. Moreover, OEMs recommend synthetic for better protection under warranty and longer drain intervals.

Synthetic Blend Basics

Synthetic blend oils are a mix between synthetic and mineral oils. They were first introduced by Mobil in 1966 and are typically engineered to offer similar benefits as their full synthetic counterparts, but at a much lower cost. But even with high performance additives, the best blends of synthetic and mineral oil are not capable of reaching the same performance. Synthetic blend motor oils are also not fully regulated by clear cut standards regarding the concentration of mineral or synthetic compounds. As a result, great care has to be taken when choosing the exact composition that would offer a suitable level of performance for your vehicle.

Synthetic vs Blend Cost

When it comes to the cost, synthetic blend vs full synthetic is no contest at all. Synthetic oils are about 30% more expensive than the average synthetic blend, and their increased life span doesn’t always compensate for that cost. However, for a typical price difference of $8 to $9 per 5 qt, car owners can enjoy benefits such as the use of engine oils that are three times stronger against viscosity breakdown and far better behavior when subjected to high pressure and temperature fluctuations.

Person pouring oil with car hood popped open

Pouring Oil | Getty

Differences in Change Intervals

The amount of time you can wait before changing your oil tends to differ greatly between conventional and synthetic oils. Even on the lower end, synthetic motor oil can still last for up to 5,000 miles before you need to change it. The most expensive synthetic brands can go up to 10,000 or even 15,000 miles. The average change interval for synthetic blend is in the vicinity of 6,000 miles, with some brands exceeding a recommended value of 7,500.

Long Term Use of Synthetic vs. Blend Oil

Statistics show that 45% of all cars, SUVs and pickup trucks currently use synthetic blend or full synthetic oil. How will they fare in the long run? While conventional oil should let your car reach 200,000 miles with ease, full synthetic can offer the following:

  • improved chemical and shear stability (a measure of the oil's resistance to changing viscosity)
  • better high and low temperature viscosity performance
  • a better viscosity index in general
  • far greater resistance to oxidation, oil sludge concerns and thermal breakdown

All of these combined are sure to increase the odds that your car will live longer. By comparison, synthetic blend results can vary due to the concentration of mineral oil, which can reduce the performance of the oil and decrease the overall longevity of your engine. 

In the end, the choice is yours. Do you prefer synthetic or synthetic blend? Let us know in the comments.

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Last updated March 9, 2021