BY: Simon Michell is Business Development Manager at Certas Energy (Valvoline)
I’ve been meeting several independent garage owners recently. What came across was the sheer number of automotive engine oils that can easily cause a headache for technicians.
To ensure the right oil is used the simple solution is to use a manufacturer lookup – such as: https://valvoline-eu.lubricantadvisor.com/eng/
At last count there were ten recently introduced 0W-20 oil for modern cars!
It is all so easy to use the wrong 0W-20. A little bit of knowledge will pay dividends in the long run. If you add in a couple of new 5W-30 and 0W-30 oils that weren’t really around that many years ago and we have an interesting mix.
Why are there so many new and different viscosity oils?
A cynical view is that it helps direct the car owners back to the dealer, clutching their handbooks, requesting the latest oil specification for their cherished car. An alternative view is that modern engines are exquisitely designed and have very specific demands on engine oil and the additives are designed specifically for a particular engine– hence the proliferation of engine oil specifications.
Use the four-question oil approach – it works every time!
It will equip you with the knowledge and reasons as to why you are pouring in high quality golden liquid into an expensive piece of engineering excellence.
How is the oil made?
Unless you’ve wandered into the ‘classic oils’ section of your local accessory shop, or you
are considering purchasing house-branded oil from Tesco, it will always be fully synthetic.
What is the viscosity?
Find out what multigrade viscosity is required, for example 0W-20, 5W-30 etc.
What is the ACEA rating?
In some instances there will only be an ILSAC or API specification – be sure to get this right because we are in the warranty-rejection zone.
What is the manufacturer’s approval number?
Tread carefully here. Newer approvals such as VW 508.00/509.00 are not backwards-compatible with 504.00/507.00, and using the wrong one will mean warranty rejection. Interestingly, the new spec oil is green in colour although this has nothing to do with its lubricating properties.
Why do engines need such specific oil these days? It’s likely that modern engines are exquisitely designed with almost impossibly tiny tolerances and place very specific demands on engine oil and the additives are designed specifically for an engine. There can be real-world consequences for using an out-of-spec oil.
One of these consequences is low-speed pre-ignition. LSPI is a new phenomenon, occurring in modern Gasoline Direct Injection (GDI) engines, although some of us may remember this occurrence from back in the day, as pre-detonation or pinking.
With LSPI the resultant detonation can have disastrous consequences such as putting a hole in a piston. However, the cause of LSPI can be traced back to certain additives used in the engine oil. The new generation of ILSAC GF6-A oil have specific additives to combat this.
The short answer here is don’t risk using the wrong oil, even if the vehicle is out of warranty and the customer is pleading poverty. It isn’t worth it, especially as there are plenty of tools available to make sure that the correct product is used.
One car, many oils
The daughter of a friend had just bought a 2019 Mercedes A class petrol and he asked me what oil it needed. So I asked if I could have a look at the owner’s manual.
There were two big surprises there. It gives no recommended viscosities, just the Mercedes-Benz specification. Secondly, there are four MB specifications for the 1.3L petrol engine, and eight for the 1.9-litre diesel.
This is tricky for anyone who needs to make sense of historic, current and future oil specs. The key take away is that Mercedes Benz is 100% focused on only the MB level-four specifications (eg MB 229.71 and the level-2 viscosities, by default, fit into the correct MB level-four spec).
But this is not easy when there are 11 5W-30 grades and a growing number of 0W-20 grades… Oh, and throw in 0W-30, 0W-40 and 5W-40 grades that may or may not have the correct MB specification.
What is the key take aways on oil in 2022?
• Use a manufacturer registration look up site.
• Be aware that there are ten different 0W-20 oils – and I’m sure more are on their way!
• Use the four-question oil approach to demystify the information in the handbook or on a technical data site.
If you want more information on anything oil related get in touch firstname.lastname@example.org