Does a Honda Civic Need Synthetic Oil

Does a Honda Civic Need Synthetic Oil? (+ Change Interval)

Knowing what type of oil you need to use in your Honda Civic is essential for a smooth running vehicle, and it will often depend on the age of the car.

As a rule of thumb, newer Honda Civics will require synthetic oil, but here’s some more detail depending on what year of Civic you own.

Does a Honda Civic need synthetic oil? Honda Civic’s manufactured after 2018 should only use synthetic oil but check the oil cap or owners’ manual. Modern synthetic oil can also be used in older Civics without damaging it. On the flipside, Honda don’t recommend regular oil in newer models.

The bottom line is you should read the oil cap or owners’ manual to see what oil Honda recommend for your Civic. If you don’t have time to do that, scroll down to see what kind of oil your Honda Civic uses, as recommended by the manufacturer.

You can also find out what the Honda Civic synthetic oil change interval should be toward the bottom half of this guide.

What kind of oil does my Honda Civic use?

While for some Honda Civics it is ok to use two different types of oil, for example, a mix of mineral and semi-synthetic, others can only use fully synthetic oil. Luckily, to understand whether to use synthetic oil in your Honda, the only information you need is the model year. 

In short, any Honda Civic produced from the year 2018 onwards must use exclusively synthetic oil as per manufacturer’s requirements. This goes for all Civics for 2018 and later model years, regardless of their engine configuration, fuel type or generation of the model. 

What type of engine oil does your Honda Civic use? Well, as I explained, it depends on the year of production, it can be any of the three kinds mentioned. 

Do I have to use synthetic oil in my Honda
Sometimes you can see what type of oil your Civic takes by popping the hood up.

Since the Honda Civic is a car model with such a long history, it has seen lots of technological advancements and changes over the years, including using every type of oil available as well as different combinations of oils. 

Just like with the 2018 and newer Civics, what type of oil your car uses will depend only on the year of production. And with that, let’s dive right into it – here’s what kind of oil your Honda Civic uses.

Important: This is guidance only, and you should always check in case your Honda does not fall into any of these annual brackets and needs a different oil type.

Oil for Honda Civics manufactured before 1997

All Civics produced before this year use mineral oil only. Just like with new models that use synthetic, it’s only important with these model years that you only use mineral oil.

Using synthetic or semi-synthetic oils in engines that are not designed for them can cause engine seals to deteriorate, and because of which, the car might start leaking oil and another potential problem is high oil pressure, which can cause all different types of unwanted damage. 

Handy Hint: Here’s how you reset the oil life indicator after you have had an oil change and the light stays on.

Oil for Honda Civics manufactured between 1997 and 2008

All Civics produced in this year span can use both mineral oil and semi-synthetic oil. When choosing between these two oils, it’s always better to go with the semi-synthetic, since that oil has some of the positive properties of synthetic oils but is still compatible with your car. 

Semi-synthetic is a little more expensive, however, so that is something to keep in mind.

Oil for Honda Civics that manufactured between 2009 and 2014

These Civics will use only semi-synthetic oils, so like with other models, its best to stick with manufacturer recommendations even though a lot of people will put fully synthetic in them and report no problems that will be traced back to that fact. 

Mineral oil, however, is off the table and should not be used.

Handy Hint: Here’s how often to change the oil on other models and years of Honda Civic.

Oil for Honda Civics manufactured between 2015 and 2017

As the model years progress, so does the engine oil they use and so, with these model years, you can use either semi-synthetic or fully synthetic. Of course, it’s always recommended to go with the better option and use fully synthetic. 

Oil for Honda Civics manufactured in 2018 and on

As I mentioned already, any Honda Civic produced in 2018 will need synthetic oil. Any other type of oil is a potentially bad that “might” mean you have to spend money.

To be more specific on a year-by-year basis, here are some common queries owners ask about particular models.

Does a 2019 Honda Civic need synthetic oil?

Yes, the 2019 Honda Civic does need synthetic oil, the 0w-20 type for all engines. This viscosity oil will help to pull heat from the engine and keep it well lubricated. 

However, the manual does say you can use 5w-20 oil but only in exceptional circumstances when no other oil is available. 

What kind of oil does my Honda Civic use
This Honda Civic uses synthetic oil as recommended by the manufacturer.

Why you should use synthetic oil in your modern Honda Civic

Using any other oil in a car that is designed for synthetic oil could cause problems over time for multiple reasons and especially on turbocharged cars. 

Some of the problems this might cause are:

  • Increased operating temperatures: Since engine oil plays a crucial role in cooling the engine and mineral oil has a lower heat transfer rate, this can cause a multitude of problems with different components of the engine, including total damage. 
  • Turbocharger damage: Oil heat transfer and cooling properties are even more important for turbochargers, so using a non-synthetic oil can cause the turbocharger to seize. 
  • Voids the warranty: Using an engine oil that isn’t per manufacturers specifications could void the warranty. 
  • Higher service interval: Synthetic oil has the highest service interval, so by running the engine on a lower quality oil and taking it to the same distance as you would with synthetic oil without changing it can cause the oil to stop lubricating properly. 

Why it’s important you choose the right oil for your Honda Civic

Now that you know what type of engine oil your Honda Civic uses, we will make this a little more complicated by adding in another important factor, the viscosity grade. 

For example, the 5W-20 designation will have different values for the numbers. This number rates the weight or thickness of oil. For example, honey has a high viscosity and water has a low viscosity. 

The first number in this example, the 5W, is the viscosity rating at lower temperatures and the next number, the 20, is the viscosity rating at high temperatures. 

To simplify, 5W is the viscosity at start up temperature when the engine is cold and 20 is the viscosity at normal operating temperatures. It thickens when it’s cold and thins when it’s hot. 

The viscosity of oil in your Honda Civic can have many different implications for how the engine runs and might even change the fuel economy as thicker oil requires more energy to be pumped around the engine’s internals. 

Some might even change their oil seasonally, putting thinner oil in the winter and thicker oil in the summer to try and optimize lubrication, but is this something that you should be doing? The short answer is no. If seasonal oil changes were necessary, then that would be something that car manufacturers would recommend themselves, but none of them do. 

The benefits of using synthetic oil in a Honda Civic

Firstly, let’s address the negative point about using synthetic oil in your Civic: it’s more expensive than regular oil, sometimes costing up to 2 or 3 times more. But, the benefits in using it far outweigh any negatives as shown below. 

  • Synthetic oil doesn’t have to be changed as regularly as it doesn’t break down as quickly as regular oil. 
  • Synthetic oil performs better in very high and very low temperatures and will also keep your Civic’s engine running cooler. 
  • Synthetic oil has a lower consumption level than regular oil and doesn’t form into sludge as quickly, meaning the oil will flow better. 
  • Synthetic oil offers better fuel economy as internal engine friction is reduced. 

How do I know what oil to use in my Honda Civic?

The next obvious question is what grade of oil your Honda Civic uses. Since there is a great number of different viscosity grades, this is something that will be engine specific. With that in mind, the only simple answer we can provide is that you try and find an oil recommendation sticker in your engine bay. 

On it you will find all the information you need, but if it’s an older car and the sticker has peeled off or has faded, you can consult your owners’ manual or even call a local dealer and they will provide you with that information.

Handy Hint: You can also save money in your Honda Civic when you learn how to use the ECON button properly.

Can you put regular oil in a Honda Civic?

Whether you can put regular oil in your Honda Civic will depend on the year and manufacturer recommendations. I certainly would not put regular oil in a Honda Civic from 2018 onwards where it’s explicitly recommended that synthetic oil is used.

Anything that that I just don’t think is worth the risk. 

You also need to consider that regular oil is not the same weight of synthetic oil that Honda recommends in modern engines. For example, a 2017 Civic Hatchback with a turbo engine requires 0W-20 oil. I have never seen anything other than synthetic oil in that weight.

Ultimately oil is not that expensive, but your engine is, so don’t try to save money by opting for a cheaper, more conventional oil over synthetic.

If Honda suggests using a certain oil type in their engine, stick with it. Don’t trust what anyone else says.

Handy Hint: Catalytic converters are often the target of thieves, and here’s why they are so attractive on older Civics.

Related questions

Why do cars need engine oil?

The main purpose is lubrication without which an engine can run for half a minute before being permanently damaged. The second function is cooling. 

How often does a Honda Civic need an oil change?

Depending on what year and model Civic you drive, you might choose to change oil between 3,000 and 5,000 miles in the more modern models. You should check your owners’ manual to make sure. 

It will never hurt the engine to change oil a little sooner than recommended.

Generally speaking though, the Honda Civic synthetic oil change interval can be every 7,500 to 10,000 miles on average.

Can I mix different types of oils?

All engine oils can be mixed regardless of any of their properties. Mixing them will change their characteristics so that’s something to be mindful of. 

What is the difference between engine and transmission oil?

Transmission oil is usually much thicker than engine oil and holds a lot of different additives that can hurt the engine in many ways. They are not to be mixed.


With almost double the price of an equivalent mineral oil, opting for mineral or semi-synthetic oils is tempting. But many cars, particularly newer ones like Civics so not recommend anything other than fully synthetic, so it’s important to know whether or not your car can use some other type of oil before going for an oil change. 

Since the Honda Civic is a model that has been produced since 1972 and has seen 11 generations so far, it is important to know what year your Civic was produced.

Look around the engine or the manual to see what oil recommend. Always follow their advice to avoid any risk to your vehicle.

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