The average age of vehicles on UK roads is increasing. This is good news for workshops, leading to greater demand for servicing, repairs and MOTs. However, it does mean that choosing the right engine oil can be even more complex.
Engine technology has evolved significantly over recent years. To meet government requirements for reduced emissions and consumer needs for economy and performance, smaller engines are running at higher temperatures to maximise efficiency, power output and fuel economy. Longer oil drain intervals, taken together with smaller sumps and the need to minimise emissions, have created the need for less viscous, synthetic or semi-synthetic oils.
But these highly efficient, sometimes ultra-low viscosity lubricants are not always suitable for ageing vehicles, according to Mike Bewsey, Chairman of industry trade body the Verification of Lubricant Specifications (VLS). “For example, a 2021 VW Polo 1.0 mpi requires an SAE 0W-20 engine oil complying with the latest VW 508.00 specification, part of which mandates very low high temperature, high shear properties (HTHS) to improve fuel efficiency. This oil would be unsuitable for a 2017 VW Polo 1.0, which requires an SAE 5W-30 oil conforming to the older VW 504.00 specification, with higher and exclusively different HTHS properties. Use of a VW 508.00 compliant engine oil in place of VW 504.00 would potentially result in accelerated wear of engine components. In contrast, a VW 504.00 compliant engine oil instead of VW 508.00 would affect emissions and fuel economy.
“VLS strongly recommends referring to the vehicle handbook or using an online database to identify the correct oil for each vehicle. Looking beyond the viscosity to specific ACEA and OEM standards is essential. This ensures that the lubricant is fit for purpose in that specific vehicle.”