An ex-girlfriend contacted me on Facebook and was asking me about the recommended motor oil for her 2002 Toyota Corolla. Unfortunately she asked her question after she had her oil changed at a car wash that offered a quick oil change service.
It seems that they had talked her into performing an oil change using the most expensive synthetic oil. They explained to her that this was a much better quality of lubricant and she wouldn’t have to change her oil as much in the future stating it would actually save her money.
The service including a free car wash and was $110 total which is pretty high considering if she chose the conventional motor oil maintenance special it would be around $25 including the car wash. My problem with her going for the synthetic oil change is that I believe firmly in sticking to the vehicle manufacturer’s recommended motor oil.
In the case of a 2002 Toyota Corolla this recommendation is conventional motor oil with a weight of 5W-30. The reason I believe in sticking with the manufacturer’s suggestion is because it is supplied by the engineers and scientists that designed and built the vehicle. I do not believe that I am smarter than the scientists and engineers that studied and tested the engine so it would not require warranty service or in other words blow up. I also do not believe that a service adviser from a quick oil change center is smarter than those same scientists and engineers.
Should I use synthetic motor oil
Some people ask me if they should use synthetic motor oil. The answer to the question is yes, only if your vehicle manufacturer recommends this type of oil. Again this is just my own personal opinion and many people will disagree including the author of the motor oil Bible. Although I do disagree with him on some areas it still is an interesting read.
Let me give you an example on my own personal vehicle. I own a 2009 Cadillac SRX with a 3.4 L V-6 engine that is also found in the new Camaro. When you look at the oil fill cap, not only does it recommend a synthetic grade oil of 5W 30 but it also recommends the Mobil one brand and includes the trademark symbol for the product.
When you look in the owner’s manual it does not say that you have to use Mobil one but instead gives a long list of API (American Petroleum Institute) standards that must match the engine oil installed in the vehicle if you want to keep the warranty intact. Although it does seem kind of shady that they recommend the Mobil one brand specifically on the oil fill cap, I hold true to what I’ve done for at least the last 25 years or more. I use the recommended motor oil without hesitation even though it is expensive.
Does synthetic motor oil last longer
I don’t know, but the recommendations in my owner’s manual states that the 2009 Cadillac SRX provides an oil life monitor and will notify me when oil changes are required. Checking into it a little more by speaking with a Cadillac dealership mechanic he informed me that the oil life monitor uses an advanced algorithm that monitors key cycles and hours of engine operation.
The oil life monitor will recommend an oil change at the 10,000 mile mark or one year since the last reset unless the above algorithm triggers the oil change before these parameters are met. So once again I follow the manufacturer guidelines and change the engine oil when the monitor says it is time to. An interesting development is I was notified of a recall that pertains to this exact subject.
Cadillac has determined that the oil life monitor needs to be reprogrammed so that it will require more frequent motor oil changes. The recall notice stated the reason for this change is they believe that the timing chain might experience excessive wear if you stick to the original guidelines. Therefore they have decided to change the algorithm of the monitor system so that more frequent maintenance will be performed.
It seems that the popularity of performing your own engine oil changes may actually rise and fall with the state of the economy. For those interested or currently performing their own vehicle maintenance I’ve put together a page on my other website that talks about three different recommended motor oil changing tips. If you would like to see the latest posts on this website this next link will take you to the homepage for the auto repair information blog.