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DOES USING THE RIGHT ENGINE OIL REALLY MATTER?


Put the wrong fuel in your car and the impact is immediate. Put the wrong oil in your car and the impact could be just as severe.


Poor quality or the wrong oil can cause accelerated wear in gears and bearings leading to increased maintenance costs and if left unchecked, eventual engine failure.


Car manufacturers invest millions of pounds each year in developing sophisticated, technologically advanced products and expect all automotive parts used to be of suitable quality.


With advances in technology, today’s choice of oil can run into the hundreds if not thousands of products.


If you are uncertain about your APIs or do not know your SAEs from your ACEAs, then how can you be sure that the oil you choose is the right one for your car?


SAE – The Society of Automotive Engineers. A universal system for expressing the flow of an oil through the engine, indicating how an oil operates across a range of temperatures. There are two numbers separated by a letter W e.g. 5W-30. The first number is for winter operating temperatures and the last number is for summer temperatures.


API – The American Petroleum Institute provides oil performance standards. Here you might see an ‘S’ rating (for petrol engine cars) followed by a sequence letter e.g. SN or a ‘C’ rating (for diesel engine cars) followed by a sequence letter and an associated number e.g. CK-4.


ACEA – The European Association of Manufacturers or Constructors. The ACEA sequences identify relevant performance standards for lubricants based on the type of engine and emission control systems. A typical specification might be ACEA A3/B4 for vehicles without exhaust after treatment systems, C3 for vehicles with after treatment systems, or E6 for heavy duty engine oils.


In addition, some vehicle manufacturers have their own specifications and where you see these in the handbook you should select an oil with the relevant claims. Examples might be Mercedes-Benz MB 229.51 or General Motors dexos 2™.


Whilst a manufacturer may recommend a particular brand of engine oil, you may use another one as long as it meets the same technical requirements. If you are unsure, always refer to your car manual and ask for assistance from your retailer to confirm that the oil meets the specification described.


WHAT DO THE LETTERS ON AN OIL PACK ACTUALLY MEAN?


Engine oil, or lubricants, carry different industry marks representing the standards they meet to help you understand if the oil is right for your needs.


HOW TO CHECK AN OIL IS RIGHT FOR YOUR VEHICLE


• Refer to your vehicle’s operating manual to check the engine’s requirements.


• Access the product’s technical claims available on the Technical Data Sheet available from the lubricant marketer, displayed on packaging or in accompanying marketing material.


• Check with your reseller that the product’s technical claims match your vehicle’s requirements.


VLS is here to help motorists by ensuring that lubricant product claims are valid and reliable. By verifying the specification of lubricant products, consumers and end users can be assured that a lubricant is accurately described and independently assessed.


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