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I'm taking my car in for service (5k miles.. but I'm almost at 6k.. silly me went to Tahoe :p). What exactly is synthetic oil? Is there a particular brand that will stand out to me in the auto part shop? I got a service scheduled for tomorrow, and might as well get better than the icky "bulk oil" I've heard about from dealers..
 

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Synthetic oil in Europe is usually 0w-30 and is used in European vehicles to stretch the time span between oil changes. Typical oil change intervals of engines running synt. oil range from 18.000 to 31.000 miles. The Prius is officially not "allowed" to use it although I know of many people including me buying synthetic. Since the Prius oil change interval is rather short (9.400 miles) it sound like a waste of money but synthetic oil has advantages in cold areas and is supposed to have a positive impact on mileage.

Walter
 

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?? Where does [email protected] say that synthetic oil is not allowed? The 2004 owners' manual says it is allowed.

The right number of quarts to buy and give to the technician is three, not four. The owner's manual gives the capacity as 3.9 quarts, but since some oil always remains in the system during a change, 3.9 quarts is too much to add. Three US quarts leaves the oil level a little more than halfway between the add and fill marks, which is perfect. If you give the tech four quart bottles he will overfill and/or hand you back a messy partial bottle to fool around with until your next oil change. There is no benefit in this.
 

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Again, oil is a personal thing. Ask ten different people and get ten different opinions. If your car is new and you check your dipstick now you will see that it is slightly "above" the full mark. This is because the capacity is 3.9 qts. and they service the car at the factory with four. And if you just ask your dealer for an oil change he will put in the four quarts if he is also changing the filter. If you check immediately after, you will find it still indicating slightly above the full mark. (mine has for the past two years.) At these changes he will get 99.9% of the oil normally out of the engine. Now the personal opinions start appearing. Some folks even believe they get better milage figures by running with less oil than the manual specifies. Something like "super inflating" your tires. If you are going to do this please read the paragraphs on oil consumption that is well indexed and printed in your owners manual. If you check your oil at less than 600 mile figures, running less than full should be safe enough. Ten questions and ten opinions! Same with standard or synthetic. Drive your car at Indianapolis, at extremely higher than normal engine temperatures, then "go for the synthetic." ten different opinions! Just as long as you realize that synthetic is four to seven dollars more a quart than the mineral. The Prius four qts. shouldn't bankrupt anyone. The only problem I have ever heard about synthetic oil is it's "magic" way of finding places to leak once the car gets about 85,000 miles on the engine.
Also you will hear of hundreds of cars that have been successfully running well over 200,000 miles being serviced with nothing other than "straight" oil.
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When it comes to oil changes I started the first (2) 3k mile intervals then next (2) changes at 5k intervals then (1) at 7500 now last month I just did my first 10k oil change. I live in California where weather is pretty normal and I drive about 80-100 miles a day... at least. I think if you are unsure or don’t feel comfortable I wouldn't just go from 3k or 5k on the first oil change then go consistently at 10k's.

Oh by the way I do use Mobil 1 5w30 :) always have and probably always will...
 

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Consumer Reports tested motor oil years ago. In conclusion, they said that synthetic oil was slightly better in harsh conditions (extreme heat, cold or loads); but due to the higher cost, most people tried to stretch the oil/filter change intervals. They said that it was better to save your money, buy regular oil, change the oil filter every time and follow the manufacturer's maintenance schedule.

Also, I have heard that once you change to synthetic, you shouldn't switch back to regular. Also, DO NOT put synthetic oil in an older car; it'll cause leaks.

Most major brands are OK, with Castrol and Valvoline best. But, never use Havoline - not much good except for oiling door hinges, and not the ones on your car! Besides, it really stinks.

The tests were done by "wearing out" the oil by pumping it through fuel injectors. Then, they monitored viscosity and other parameters. I don't think they have done another test in recent years, probably because motor oils have improved so much.

They also indicated that oil additives were a waste of money, as they didn't improve lubrication qualities.

Basically, it boils down to common sense -- just follow the manufacturer's guidelines for routine maintenance.
 

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Quote from a Toyota Dealer

I was told by Kerney Mesa Toyota that if I brought in my own synthetic oil I would only have to have oil changes every 10,000 miles (double the mileage). The difference in the cost makes the extra mileage about the same but I get better mileage using the synthetic oil (about 1.5 mpg). The quality of the oil is another issue. Do not use blended oil (part synthetic) and change the filter with each oil change. These are the programs that have been followed in Japan since the Prius was introduced. I have followed this in my 2004 and my new 2006 and did a breakin oil change with synthetic oil at 1,500 miles even though it was not required by Toyota. A clean engine will last longer.
 

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Since you don't have a location in your profile, I will assume you are in NA.

Let's hope you don't have an engine malfunction that could be pinpointed to inadequate lubrication, as you did not follow manufacturer's warranty requirements. Is the dealer going to pay for repairs himself if Toyota denies a warranty claim for his recommendations? Are you guaranteed to be able to use THAT dealer for the 60K/5 year warranty period?

Sure, in all likelyhood, the oil would be doing its job for the full 10K change period (though the filter should probably be changed every 5K anyway). But Toyota has not yet sanctioned this in NA.
 

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I've read of the differance in oils several times posted here but have found no written evidence of this fact anywhere else. I do know that there is just a standard specification for oil used in aircraft engines all over the world. No differance between continents.
I believe the API grade SL or ILSAC is the standard used by Toyota in all their vehicles worldwide.
It may just be the differance in driving habits that makes a differance in milage recommendations in different countries. Although if this were true since we drive much longer distances in this country, you would almost think that our oil changes would be longer. Then again, we have always been able to afford the 3,000 mile changes and they cannot be but extremely more desireable than a 10,000 mile change. If just to make the reading of the "dipstick" more difficult because of the extra cleanliness. (Ever seen a dipstick from a car with 10,000 miles on it?) I've walked away from a lot of used cars for sale because of this.
 
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