When you get an oil change the shop may try to upsell you to pay more for synthetic oil, but depending on your vehicle it may be well worth the cost.

At Centennial College in Scarborough, where new students are training to become mechanics, their instructors are teaching them the inner workings of an engine as well as the basics of checking and changing the oil. 

They say using the right oil for your vehicle is crucial to making it last. 

Garrett Nalepka, the Coordinator of the Automotive Service Technician program at Centennial, says the most important thing the average car owner can do is check their owner’s manual. 

“If a synthetic is recommended then you would definitely want to use a synthetic oil. Those engines would be designed with very tight tolerances and they would be dependent on that oil and it's especially important in a turbo charged or supercharged car" Nalepka said.

auto shop
Garrett Nalepka, of the Automotive Service Technician program at Centennial, is seen in this photo. (CTV News Toronto)

If conventional oil is recommended for your vehicle then you do not have to pay extra for synthetic oil. However, if you do, mechanics say you would be giving your engine additional protection. 

According to Consumer Reports synthetic oil resists oil breakdown, lasts longer than conventional oil, withstands higher temperatures and flows better in cold weather.

While you should always get your oil changed on time according to your maintenance schedule, Nalepka says if a car owner delays an oil change, synthetic oil will protect their engine better than conventional oil. 

“If an oil change became extended or a customer became busy and didn't change the oil on time you would get additional protection from the synthetic" Nalepka said. 

One of the most common reasons for expensive engine repairs is people not checking their oil or changing their oil on time. 

Also, if a car has an oil monitoring system that shows the percentage of oil life remaining, a person still has to check the oil level on the dipstick. The higher the kilometers and older a vehicle is means it could use more oil between oil changes. 

“If we look at older cars, they will have lower tolerances and the vehicle will burn oil" Nalepka said. 

Another option to conventional oil is using a semi-synthetic. It's a blend of oils that offers more protection than conventional oil, but not as much as a full synthetic product. 

As well as having your oil changed on time you should always keep track of your paperwork and receipts. If you have engine problems you will need to show you did the proper maintenance or it could void your warranty.