How to choose the right oil for your car

Do Cars in Oregon Need Basic or Synthetic Oil?

“Do you recommend synthetic or basic oil?” That’s one of the most common questions Oregon drivers ask when they visit our Scappoose or Springfield location. In this article, we’ll look at the differences between synthetic and basic oils. Then we’ll talk about which is recommended for drivers in Oregon.

What’s the Point of Motor Oil?

Oil For Your Car's Engine

Motor oil lubricates, protects, cools and cleans your car’s engine. Here’s how:

  • Lubrication & Protection – Your engine is full of moving parts. When the engine parts move, there’s friction. Too much friction causes decreased performance or even damage to your engine. The smooth, lubricating properties of motor oil reduce friction and provide increased protection to moving parts.
  • Cooling – When your car’s running, heat builds up in your engine. Motor oil absorbs heat from the crankshaft, pistons, timing gears and other engine parts. It helps dissipate heat and keeps your engine parts from getting too hot.
  • Cleaning – As oil pumps through your vehicle’s engine it collects tiny bits of debris. The oil filter removes the grit and debris from your engine keeping things running clean and smooth.

Basic Oil

Basic motor oil is a “non-synthetic” oil. Generally speaking, when we think about things we buy, like the food we eat and the fabrics in the clothes we wear we tend to think the “non-synthetic” option is “more natural” and therefore better. That’s not necessarily the case when it comes to motor oil.

Basic oil is made by refining natural crude oil until it has the viscosity and other properties which make it suitable to use in your vehicle’s engine. But that doesn’t mean it’s better than synthetic oil.

Synthetic Oil

Synthetic oil is made from either a petroleum base or from other raw, non-petroleum based materials. No matter what it’s made from, synthetic oil is heavily purified and has many chemical additives which give it the properties needed to make a more durable and superior motor oil.

So What’s the Difference?

When comparing synthetic and basic oils, the biggest difference can be “seen” only at the microscopic level. But you’ll definitely notice the difference in your car’s performance and when you have your car serviced.

The molecules in a synthetic motor oil are highly refined and are more consistently sized. That means synthetic oil is stronger and performs better at higher temperatures. Synthetic oil also does a better job of preventing the buildup of impurities and deposits which are more prevalent in basic oils.

What Does Your Car Need?

Most European cars and hybrid vehicles require synthetic oil.  In fact, your vehicle’s warranty may be voided if you use anything other than a full synthetic oil. The best way to know for sure is to check your manual or ask one of our oil change experts.

Which Cars Need Synthetic Oil?

  • Prius and other hybrids
  • New Subarus
  • BMWs
  • Audis
  • Mercedes
  • Volkswagens

Even if your car doesn’t require synthetic oil, we still highly recommend it. Here’s why:

  • Synthetics last longer – You can drive more miles between oil changes and still maintain performance.
  • Better fuel economy – Synthetic oils offer higher performance and your vehicle may get better gas mileage.
  • Improved high-temperature performance – Because they are engineered in a lab, synthetic oils can be specifically designed to withstand high engine temperatures. Even when you’re driving up a mountain or towing a heavy load, synthetic oil stands up to the heat.
  • Reduced wear and tear year round – The additives found in synthetic oil help keep the oil flowing smoothly even during cold weather. This helps extend the life of your vehicle’s engine.

Better for The Environment

The Best Oil for the Environment

At Express Lube, we reduce the environmental impact even more by properly disposing of used oil. This is important, because when people change their oil at home research shows that 85% of the used oil isn’t disposed of properly.

While there is an environmental impact to using motor oil, you can minimize the impact by having your oil changed by a professional.

What About Semi-Synthetic Oils?

In addition to basic and synthetic oils, there are also semi-synthetics, which combine the properties of both types. A synthetic blend can be a good choice for drivers whose vehicles:

  • Don’t require full synthetic oils
  • Don’t need high-performance oil

Ask an Oil Change Expert


If you’re not sure what type of oil your car needs, we can help. Stop by our Springfield or Scappoose locations and ask us. We’ll help you choose the oil that’s best for your engine.

No appointment needed– just roll on in!

4020 Main St

Springfield, OR 97478

Phone: (541) 214-2930

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51425 SW Joes Drive

Scappoose, OR 97056

Phone: (503) 902-4965

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