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Is Synthetic Oil Worth The Money?

May 29, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

One of Many Synthetic Oils Available

One of Many Synthetic Oils Available

Will that be regular motor oil or synthetic?   Whether you tow a trailer, 5th wheel, or have a motorized recreational vehicle, you have seen the synthetic oil hype.  Is synthetic oil worth the extra money or is it just snake oil?

First of all, synthetic may be a little misleading.  So called “Synthetic oil” is in fact petroleum oil.  It is, however, made by incorporating a controlled molecular structure with consistent predictable properties.  Perhaps it could be described as using the best molecular components contained in the refined oil product as a base. From there, superior additive packages are added to produce a much higher quality product.


So let’s look at what properties the average full synthetic oil provides over that of regular motor oil.

  • Better low and high temperature viscosity performance.
  • Resistant to oxidization, oil sludge build up and temperature breakdown.
  • Better oil film retention during long layup periods.
  • Reduced internal evaporation.
  • Reduced high temperature “hot spot” (especially in turbo chargers).
  • Proven to extend engine life, particularly for high demand applications.

Looking at the recreational vehicle application, we must address both gasoline and diesel engines.  The gas engines in tow vehicles and motorized RV’s are often subjected to heavy power loads when climbing steep grades.  While these are generally not equipped with turbo chargers, they do operate at substantially high engine RPM during such climbs.  In this scenario, the engine would probably benefit from the use of synthetic oil, if only for its high temperature capabilities.  While it is not recommended to extend the service mileage when using synthetic oil, it does not have to be shortened, as the standard motor oil must be, if constantly subjected to similar extreme loads.

So, is synthetic oil worth the money? Diesel RVs do benefit from the use of synthetic oil enough to justify the additional expense.  It should be noted, however, that most owners will never drive their unit far enough to really make it worthwhile and get the full benefit of the upgraded product. 

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