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Navigating oil specifications

With the amount of oil products available to purchase, consumers can sometimes be misled or misinformed about the exact specifications of the product they are buying. Manufacturers of machinery and automotive engines spend a lot of time and money developing their products to work with specific oils or lubricants, so it is essential to use the right ones to maintain them. Using incorrect or sub-standard oils can have an impact on machinery and even accelerate wear to gears and bearings which will substantially shorten the life of an engine.

In order to combat false performance claims and technical specifications, the industry-led Verification of Lubricant Specifications group was formed. Consisting of lubricant blenders and manufacturers, the VLS works hard to weed out any products that do not meet its standards. In recent guidelines for consumers VLS advised that there are four key pieces of information that consumers should look out for on a product’s packaging.

  • SAE rating - Set by the Society of Automotive Engineers, this rating informs users of the viscosity of automotive oils. The rating consists of two numbers separated by a ‘W’ - the first number shows the viscosity during cold temperatures and the second during warm temperatures.
  • API rating - This usually includes two sets of letters - and ’S’ rating followed by a sequence number and sometimes an associated number.
  • ACEA rating - Developed by the European Association of Original Equipment Manufactureres, the ACEA rating is based upon the type of engine the oil is designed for; with the ‘A’ series denoting petrol engines and the ‘B’ series belonging to passenger diesel vehicles. Both of these series’ are designed only for vehicles that are not fitted with exhaust after treatment devices. For vehicles that are fitted with either a catalytic converter or a diesel particulate filter, the ACEA rating falls into its ‘C’ sequences. For large, commercial vehicles there is also an additional ‘E’ series.

VLS urges consumers to always refer back to the manufacturers handbook when purchasing oil or lubricants as it will have the exact type and specification required for each particular vehicle.

If you are looking for help and advice regarding oils and lubricants, our experts are on hand to discuss your requirements with you. Please call 01543 506117.