VLS begins proactive approach to upholding standards

Andrew Goddard, Chairman, Verification of Lubricant Specifications

Since it was formed in 2013, VLS has worked hard to uphold standards in the lubricants industry. To date, this has been through investigating complaints against lubricants products it receives.

VLS has investigated 65 cases, working with manufacturers and distributors to ensure products can deliver what they claim and are fit for purpose. Lubricants producers now know that products can and will be investigated, including escalation to Trading Standards or the relevant statutory authorities if required.

The VLS investigation process is fair and transparent, with products anonymised throughout the investigation. Recently, VLS has closed two cases after finding no case to answer, demonstrating the fair and rigorous nature of the process.

In November 2019, VLS received a complaint regarding a 5W30 engine oil. The complainant claimed that the product failed the Cold Cranking Simulator (CCS) SAE J300 limit and that a non-proven formulation was used in relation to the VW 504 00 / 507 00 claim. The product was independently tested and the CCS result was within the specification limit for this grade. The product was further analysed and, on this occasion, no significant evidence could be found to substantiate the claim relating to it being a “non-proven formulation”. Based on these test results, VLS found that that there was no case to answer and the case was closed.

Also in 2019, VLS received a complaint regarding another 5W30 engine oil. VLS investigated the product and found that it was not available on open sale in the UK and instead was being made to order by the Named Party. Consequently, the product did not meet the VLS criteria for investigation as it is not


currently available on open sale in the UK and the case was closed.

These cases are important as they demonstrate the independent nature of VLS, whose role is to maintain an open and transparent playing field for all lubricants marketers and distributors, not just our members. The stringent investigation process ensures that every case is correctly investigated and if there is no case to answer then the case will be closed with no further action.

Whilst VLS has firmly established itself as an independent and credible verifier of lubricant standards on cases that have been reported, as a Board, we were keen to take the next step in proactively testing market samples.

Recently, VLS approached the Institute of Materials (IOM) to procure samples of automotive engine oils surveyed and tested in the United Kingdom. Every year the IOM undertakes a comprehensive sampling and testing programme of automotive engine oils available on open sale.

The samples, including independent manufacturers as well as majors, were all tested against common industry standards to ensure they were compliant with their own stated technical specifications.

Overall, the products tested were broadly in compliance, which is positive news for our industry. VLS will continue to monitor samples in this way in the future and work with regulatory authorities as well as trade associations like ATIEL on any issues relating to UK lubricants.

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