Should I switch from conventional oil to synthetic?

John Paul, AAA Northeast's Car Doctor, answers a reader with questions about oil changes.

The 2019 Nissan Altima.
The 2019 Nissan Altima. –Nissan

Q. I have a new Nissan and with about 12,000 miles on it. The dealership has me coming in every 3,750 miles for routine oil changes. I’ve asked about using synthetic oil so I could stretch out the time between oil changes. The dealer tells me synthetic oil isn’t a good idea and I should stay with the 3,750-mile service. The isn’t a sports car — just an Altima sedan, so I would think synthetic oil would be just fine and last longer. What are your thoughts?

A. I believe there are enough advantages to synthetic oil to consider switching from conventional oil on just about every vehicle. Synthetic oil offers better lubrication in extreme temperatures, offers greater protection against wear, and keeps the engine cleaner than conventional oil. As good as synthetic oil is, it does not allow extended oil change intervals. According to Nissan’s service records, oil changes should be performed at 5,000-mile intervals. 

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John Paul is AAA Northeast’s Car Doctor. He has over 40 years of experience in the automotive business and is an ASE certified master technician. Email your car question to jpaul@aaanortheast.com.

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