Increase in oil Grades giving motor factors a headache
Professional motor factors will have noticed a sharp rise in the number of different engine oils on the market today.
A decade ago, a motor factor could service the needs of the majority of its customers by stocking a 15W-40 and a 10W-40. Unless the car was unusual, one of those would have worked just fine.
Unfortunately, the picture today is far more complicated with each OEM demanding a specific oil for each engine. And the oil shelves are only going to get more cluttered in the years to come, a technical guru at a leading manufacturer has warned.
Andy Brown, UK Automotive Technical Manager at FUCHS LUBRICANTS, said: “What it all boils down to are CO2 and emissions.
“There are new CO2 targets due in 2020 and OEMs know how important it is for them to meet these, failure to do so results in hefty fines. One of the many ways OEMs are going to do that is by using the right oil and tires, which are both critically important in terms of efficiency and fuel economy.
“In each model of car, components are naturally slightly different. When it comes to oil, the piston rings and the upper cylinder area are of great interest as frictional losses in these areas are high and each OEM engine design demands different additives in the oil to help lubricate these crucial parts.
“In a nutshell, that’s why we have so many products today. Though we have several products at the same viscosity, 5W-30 for example, the additives in them are slightly different, designed to deal with specific needs of the OEM’s components.
“The temptation is for a motor factor to recommend an oil which, on the face of it, appears to be very similar to what is being recommended in the handbook. It might be that it works fine for a few months and the formulation might indeed be very similar, but this is something we’d obviously advise against.
“Using an oil which has not been approved by the OEM risks invalidating the warranty. If something goes wrong with the car’s exhaust system, the first thing they’ll check is the oil. If it’s found that the wrong oil has been used, there are no comebacks. The terms of the warranty have been broken.”
So, what do these mean for motor factors? Ultimately, for many, it means a greater selection of oils in stock – in smaller packs.
FUCHS LUBRICANTS has seen demand in the traditional 205L barrels decrease, with more customers opting for the 20L Lube Cube packs or smaller and the flexibility they provide.
Some of FUCHS’s national motor factor customers are buying two five-liter packs to complete an oil change on a specific engine simply because they do not have the room to stock the number of oils required to service every vehicle.