ATIEL changes quality process in response to VLS investigation

ATIEL, the representative body for manufacturers and marketers in the European lubricants industry, has changed its quality management policy to ensure that ATIEL member products are now included in compliance programmes for the first time. The change comes in response to a VLS investigation, which was referred to ATIEL in 2019.

Case 160 involved a 5W-30 Fully Synthetic SN/CF Oil which was making technically conflicting claims concerning the ACEA engine oil sequences and OEM specifications which were not technically feasible. After months of investigation and dialogue, the named party failed to provide the Candidate Data Pack, putting them in breach of the ATIEL Code of Practice. VLS reported the company to ATIEL for breaching its undertakings under the ATIEL Code of Practice.

Previously, ATIEL members only had to sign a letter of compliance, saying that their products conformed

to the correct standards. Their products were not subject to compliance testing – only non-member products were. However, the investigation into case 160 highlighted that this process may not be stringent enough to uphold industry standards.

At a meeting of the ATIEL Quality Management Committee, it was decided that the policy would be changed so that all products would be subject to sampling and testing, including member products, to ensure that industry standards are maintained and products really can deliver what they claim.

Andrew Goddard, Chairman of VLS said: “The case demonstrates that as an independent trade body VLS will strongly pursue cases, including referring them to other European industry bodies, to ensure that lubricant products are fit for purpose. This announcement sends a strong message to the industry that no one is exempt from testing. Product quality and motorist safety must come first.”

VLS receives rush of new cases

VLS received a number of new complaints against 5W30 and 5W40 engine oils towards the end of 2019, bringing the total number of cases investigated to 65.

Case 163 and case 165 are both complaints regarding two different 5W30 engine oils and are currently under investigation.

Case 163 concerns improbable claims made against manufacturer specifications in a single formulation where VLS is not aware that any market general technology exists to meet the stated performance claims.

Case 164 was a complaint concerning the use of outdated and conflicting ACEA engine oil sequences, namely A3/B4 and C3 as a combined claim on product labelling made available through an online internet channel. VLS reviewed the evidence with reference to the website description, product labelling and Technical Data Sheet of the product which are available on the Named Party’s website. These details omitted the ACEA A3/B4 claim and retained reference to ACEA C3 only. This evidence has been provided to the complainant. This was therefore concluded to be a housekeeping issue of a distributor retaining outdated product information, which has now been resolved

and the case has been closed.

Case 165 concerns a test on an underpinning base oil of a finished lubricant in order to ascertain whether the formulation is capable of meeting the claims made. Previously it has been difficult to determine the correct properties of a base oil within a finished lubricant without reference to an additive package. By extracting an additive pack from a finished lubricant it might be possible to determine the properties of base oil used to support the performance claims of a finished formulation.

Andrew Goddard, Chairman of VLS (UK) Ltd said “We want to ensure we have the highest standards in Europe for lubricant manufacture, blending and marketing, and we want a ‘level playing field’ for all participants, so that we protect the interests of the consumer and other end users. A simple datasheet error may seem a small issue, but it is vital that motorists and mechanics are being given the correct information so they can make informed decisions to purchase the correct oil for their vehicle.”

Two further cases, both complaints again 5W30 engine oils, remain under investigation.


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