Should I Use Synthetic Oil in My Older Honda Civic?

If you own an older Honda Civic that runs on conventional oil, you’re probably wondering if you could jump on the synthetic oil bandwagon. You can, but is it really the right choice for you? Let’s find out

87 Honda Civic

A 1987 Honda Civic, via OSX

Will Synthetic Oil Damage Your Engine?

Contrary to popular belief, no, synthetic oil will not damage your engine. It used to be true, though. When synthetic oil was first introduced decades ago, it contained esters, which are chemical compounds that would wear down the seals in old engines. However, thanks to constantly improving synthetic oil technology, you no longer have to worry about esters wreaking havoc on your old engine seals.

Bottom line: synthetic oil is now completely safe for your older Honda Civic engine!

Benefits of Using Synthetic Oil

Synthetic oil is 2 to 3 times more expensive than dinosaur juice, but it comes with a whole lot of benefits that make the high price tag worth it:


When exposed to oxygen and heat, conventional motor oil will break down quickly. That means you have to change the oil quite frequently. You don’t have to deal with this problem with synthetic oil because it’s much more resistant to oxygen and heat. As a result, it lasts longer and doesn’t need to be changed so often.


Dinosaur juice doesn’t do well in extreme temperatures because it:

  • Contains waxes that slow down the flow at low temperatures
  • Doesn’t oxidize steadily at high temperatures
  • Thins out at high temperature

Synthetic oil, on the other hand, flows much better in extreme temperatures. It's also better at transferring heat, which helps your Civic’s engine run cooler.

Molecular Consistency

Conventional oil has larger and more inconsistently sized molecules, which leads to increased oil consumption and early sludge buildup. Synthetic oil doesn’t have these problems because all of the molecules are the same size. This allows the oil to flow better and help clean sludge out of the system.

Better Fuel Economy

On average, switching to synthetic oil boosts your fuel economy by 2% or 3%. It’s because there isn’t as much internal engine friction.

Is Synthetic Oil the Best Solution for Your Civic?

Synthetic oil

Photo credit: Mike Mozart

It depends on several different factors.

  • Where You Live: Synthetic oil works best when you live in a hot area, cold area, or high altitude environment because it’s much more versatile than conventional oil in extreme temperatures and thin air.
  • How Often You Drive Your Civic: If you don’t drive that often, you’ll benefit from synthetic oil because conventional oil tends to break down quickly -- even when not used -- while synthetic oil will hold up in the long run.
  • How You Drive Your Civic: Do you idle your Civic a lot, even in stop-and-go traffic? Go synthetic. It’s because your engine needs air flow to stay cool. Unlike conventional oil, synthetic oil can help keep your engine cool when it’s idling. Synthetic oil is also a great option if you use your Civic for something other than commuting, such as racing, because it offers more protection.
  • The Age and Condition of Your Engine:Because synthetic oil has uniform molecules, it’s more likely to slip through the rings and cylinder wall of the engine. If your engine is already prone to leaks and/or excessive oil consumption with conventional oil, then you should stick with conventional oil. Why splurge on synthetic oil if it’s only going to leak out faster?

We hope this has helped you reach an educated decision on whether to switch to synthetic oil! If you need more information or advice, feel free to contact us.