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Synthetic Or Conventional Oil



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Hello,

Just looking through this Pep Boys ad, and I am wondering if it would be worth it ($22.99 for 5qt jug on sale) to start using Synthetic in my 2003 Corolla? I never used it before! Whats the latest on this oil? Would it be beneficial to the car, environment, etc to start using it.

I think the 03 manual actual does not recommend it although I could be wrong. What would be the interval time in changing this oil?

Thanks for any input!

Larry K

Only really useful if you take advantages of the synthetic properties. That includes low temperature flow, high temp resistance, and the biggest one as you alluded to - extended oil drain intervals.

If you plan on doing oil changes every 5K miles - its pretty much overkill with synthetic. Myself, I usually push it out to 10K mile oil changes, because of how much driving a I do - but I also back that with routine UOA or Used Oil Analysis. Since every car is different - some like to run longer oil changes, some definitely can not.

The factory service manual doesn't forbid extended oil change intervals - but it doesn't endorse it either. Also have to keep in mind that oil tech is constantly evolving - oil back when the car was designed (~ 5-7 years before that generation came out) is significantly advanced since then. Even conventional oils in the newest API category could give older API synthetics a run for the money.

Note that you can try it out and see what happens - experiment with it. The old issue of not being able to switch back and forth between them was due to very specific basestocks back in the 70's and 80's. The newest API - you could even mix them and make your own synthetic blend. Each car is unique - some engines like one brand/viscosity over others.

Note that some may post oils that are thicker / thinner - but may be referring to if the oil shears up or shears down as it being run. Example: An oil that shears up - may start as a 5W-30 but after 10K miles be closer to a 10W-40 or even higher - my experience, lots of Pennzoil and Amsoil due this. Some shear down - starts in grade - 5W-30 but thins out at the end, be a 5w-20 or less. This is pretty common with Mobil 1 in the 5w-20 to 10w-30 grades - surprisingly, the 0w-20, 30, 40 grades seem to do the opposite - actually stays in grade of get a little thicker, almost acts like Mobil's Delvac HDEO line.

Example - my 1ZZ-FE Corolla likes thinner oils - Valvoline Synpower and Mobil 1 run great - but something that thickens over time, like some Pennzoil or Amsoil variants - car hates it (MPG drops over the course of the oil run). But something like my previous 2ZZ-GE Matrix XRS - it actually liked heavier oils - even run a 15W-40 weight, as it liked having higher oil pressures, thicker films. Some, like my current 2AZ-FE Matrix XRS - responds much better to a HDEO (Heavy Duty Engine Oil) - something like Rotella Synthetic - actually helped stop some of the oil consumption it had when I first bought it used. Now it only consumes a couple of oz over a 7K-8K mile oil interval. Also seems to like heavier oils, but seems to do better on Rotolla then say a Pennzoil in the same viscosity. The RAV4s are like my Corolla - they like thinner oils, ones that shear down - like Mobil 1.

i've used the cheapest oil up here in Cold Canada, no problems yet with my corolla, i think your wasting money...

Opinions on everything(including oil) seem as variable as the weather. I'm a believer in fully-synthetic oil, and have used Amsoil products for years. Others will use the cheapest product(s) they can find. Our experiences in life, and those whose opinions/advice we trust would surely factor into our own ideas and choices. fishexpo101 - I've never before considered a used oil analysis, but am now. How/where do you have your samples tested?

I've used a company called Black Stone Labs - http://www.blackstone-labs.com/

They'll send you the containers to hold the sample oil for free. Triple sealed, so this can be shipped via USPS with no issues. Tests can get pricey - right now they are $28 for a standard UOA test + $10 more for TBN check. Gets cheaper if you prepay for kits.

You draw a sample right when you change the oil or you can order a sampling kit that pulls the sample through the dipstick tube.

Thing I like about them - once they get my samples - I'll get an email of the results within 24 hours. Free sample kits + quick turnaround. Plus all my previous samples were tested by them, I've stuck with them - to ensure the testing modality is the same with all my samples.

BITOG (Bob is the Oil Guy) forum also talks about other testing sites. Dyson labs and another (can't think of the name now) are very popular over there.

Opinions on everything(including oil) seem as variable as the weather. I'm a believer in fully-synthetic oil, and have used Amsoil products for years. Others will use the cheapest product(s) they can find. Our experiences in life, and those whose opinions/advice we trust would surely factor into our own ideas and choices. fishexpo101 - I've never before considered a used oil analysis, but am now. How/where do you have your samples tested?

Doug, I am sure using the best oil will prolong the life of the engine, but

the philosophy I have is the weakest link will go first, And I think it will not be the engine burning the oil up here in Canada.

Cars are designed to self destruct to an engineered life span.

Where I live, other parts, expensive parts, numerous, expensive failures will occur at some point in the life of the car

at which point I must dump the car as it will become a money pit.

In that scenario, The engine will be the last thing to worry about.

The fuel line, the brake lines and all other forms of corrosion are ready to self destruct way before the

engine looses compression due to "cheap" oil. I pay around $17 bucks canadian for 5 liters...

I've always used the cheap stuff on my previous maybe 10 cars with cumulative mileage of over 1 million, never

had to junk 1 car due to using cheap oil or lack of engine compression.

1st gear - there is some logic in your words. I'm planning on trading mine(2013 S manual tranny) in on a new Corolla in two years. Thus, I could see how some would really think that I'm wasting my money. It is, however, hard to break habits. I buy the most expensive 0W-20 Signature series Amsoil, as well. Also, $22.99 seems cheap for 5 quarts of synthetic. Hell, two quarts of mine costs that much. I do only change it once a year(more often for the oil filter).

I meant bhp and bxkid - not 1st gear. fishexpo101 - thanks for the info. I'll give Blackstone Labs a try - first with my motorcycle(and yes, I also use the spendy Amsoil in that).

I went on the Toyota website, and they do say its OK to use Synthetic for my 03, but just as long as I change it every 5000 miles, which is same interval for the Conv.10W30! Why in the world would they advise that interval? Are they in cahoots with the Synthetic oil manufacturers?

btw, I am using the same dealership oil (from imperial oil ) up here in canada as that supplied by a store chain

with their cheap brand. Not sure if formulation is exactly the same.... but I read long ago it could be similar.

I will bet that my corolla with 250k will not die a premature death due to engine problems related to oil quality...

Only reason I would use synthetic is to decrease intervals, thus saving time and helping the environment.

I went on the Toyota website, and they do say its OK to use Synthetic for my 03, but just as long as I change it every 5000 miles, which is same interval for the Conv.10W30! Why in the world would they advise that interval? Are they in cahoots with the Synthetic oil manufacturers?

My understanding is that is more of a CYA sort of answer. Synthetics and even the lastest API conventional oils can push well past the usual 5K mile interval. The real issue is how that mileage accrues over that time. A well maintained car, driven mostly long distance highway miles on a daily basis - probably "could" run 7K-10K miles on conventional motor oil. My 1996 Camry lists oil changed every 7500 miles on conventional. We've stuck to that interval - now the car has almost 1/2 million miles on it - all original powertrain.

Cars, especially European ones, that have an oil life monitor and run synthetic from start - might see oil changes every 20K-30K miles, depending on engine run hours, temperatures, start cycles, overall mileage.

Most owners that want to see what they can run - how far they can push it - getting a UOA is a great starting point. Not all cars are good candidates for extended oil changes, some might not every benefit from a quality synthetic. Only chemical testing of the oil (UOA) + maintaining detailed records of the car (MPG, how it acts, etc.) will tell you what the car and oil can do.

Okay - I had enough of Amsoil's $11.50/quart. I did some reading online this morning comparing oils. I then went to Walmart and paid $22.88 for a 5-quart jug of full synthetic Mobile 1(0w20). I've been paying more than that for 2 quarts of Amsoil's top oil. I won't, however, be converting to the cheaper beer - unless someone has some ideas/recommendations in that area, as well ?

On my 98 with the siezed oil rings on the pistons..I just go with Walmart cheapo oil every 3500..and have started using that STP oil treatment for high mileage vehicles ( increases viscosity ALOT ). My engine consumes about 1/2 qt every 1500 miles..and the oil gets so dirty anyway because of clogged oil holes in the piston..Syth would just be wasted money..Currently I have 159k on my 98.

BTW, I've found that just filling the oil so it's 1/2 qt LOW on the stick really helps reduce the oil 'consumption'. I'm thinking because the oil level is lower than normal in the pan, and the crankcase doesn't splash as much into the cylinder when running. Saves carbon buildup without sacrificing much... imho

That's pretty interesting. Might be on to something.

I wonder why that is the case, normally there is a lot of "slop" in the dipstick measurement - you could run almost 1/2 quart over on the dipstick, won't hurt a thing.

But having a bit "too" much oil could cause oil aeration and excessive oil pressure - both could lead to excessive oil consumption.

Most owners that have seen oil consumption, majority do routine oil changes, but generally not by themselves (fraction of DIY oil changers vs commercially done oil changes is very small) - oil quick lube shops, dealerships, independent garages. Not unusual to find the crankcase overfilled - very few places use quart sized bottles, just use a oil gun from the bulk oil drum.

My 2002 w/ ~206K miles doesn't burn any oil - but I've also switched to synthetic earlier and did all but a handful of oil changes myself (got a couple of free ones from the dealerships as a "perk"). Now EVAP issues - that is a different matter all together. Kicking myself from not changing out all those plastic valves on the top of the tank when I had it out many years ago.

I changed my oil and filter. The only type Walmart had in stock at the time was a FRAM Extra Guard. Only after the change did I notice that on the filter box(in small letters) it states "engineered for conventional oil". I wouldn't think this could be a problem - thoughts/comments anyone ?

Should be fine. That just indicates that the filter is not deigned for extra loading (ie, longer oil change intervals that typically can be had with synthetics.) Read another way - "engineered for conventional oil" - means it was only designed to hold up to 3000-5000 mile oil changes.

One that I would point out, from personal experience, the FRAM filter was the worst filter I've ever run on my cars. On two separate cars, three occasions. Had one fail on my old Dodge truck (the filter element was loose), and two fail on the Camry (both had the filter element loose). Previously used FRAM PH8A filters exclusively on my domestic cars, a well know filter - large capacity, excellent durability. But with their smaller variants - the Dodge one looked like a PH8A filter cut in 1/2 and the little Camry filter - at the end of the 5000 mile oil change - all their filter elements came loose - sounded like a ball bouncing around in a tin can. That meant the filter was in full bypass - not filtering any oil. Tried one more on the Camry - different series, different parts store - to rule out a bad batch - it did the exact same thing (#2 filter).

Possible that their quality control has improved over the several years that I last purchased them - but given my previous go-to brands, like Purolator and similar - have also suffered similar defects. I'm not holding my breath. Check this video out - from about 5 years ago.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YIcFgjEikUY

FRAMs still have the cardboard endcaps right now - but now Purolator have swapped from metal to paper as well. In fact, if you cut open a Purolator (classic version) - it will look identical to a FRAM filter.

Right now - it is just OEM filters, K&N, and Denso 1st time fit (looks like OEM, 1/2 the price).

Sounds good fishexpo101 - I've only used Toyota filters until this latest servicing. They were reasonably priced($5.83). I'll either go back to Toyota, or check out K&N. I remember using many PH8A's on my big-block Ford and Mopars muscle cars.

I'm ready to change to synthetic Mobil 1 (5-30W) at 255,000 for my 2003! Im changing back to the Toyota brand filter. Anyone think it might be bad to stretch oil change interval to 10,000 with the filter? Thx

I'm ready to change to synthetic Mobil 1 (5-30W) at 255,000 for my 2003! Im changing back to the Toyota brand filter. Anyone think it might be bad to stretch oil change interval to 10,000 with the filter? Thx

Yes, stick to your normal oil change intervals... How many miles have you been going between oil changes, what type of oil, and how much oil does it consume between changes? How are your driving conditions, and how severe are your winters and summers? How about high mileage oil?

my 2002 corolla is on it's death bed, I use the cheapest oil....

ain't seen any problems with that...

Is anyone still following this thread? 

Is anything different for a new 2018 Corolla in terms of oil filters?