Today’s vehicles are complex, high performance, finely tuned machines. Keeping them running smoothly requires much more knowledge than it did 20 years ago.
A key ingredient to a keeping an engine in peak condition is its oil. These days, there’s a vast range of synthetic and mineral oils on the market. Knowing which oil is best for which engine takes a bit of homework by owners and the automotive sector.
Most general repairers used to keep a bulk barrel of oil for petrol engines and another bulk barrel for diesel engines – it kept the costs down. However industry advice is to steer clear of cheap no-brand engine oil sold in bulk, or oils that do not carry a clear explanation of their certification. They warn that cheaper oils generally don’t perform as well, and may lose their effectiveness well before the next engine service is due.
In New Zealand, right now, there are over 110 different brands of oil on the market and each has its own range of products. Pick the wrong one and you won’t get optimum emission and fuel performance. Get it seriously wrong and you can clog up expensive parts like the diesel particulate filter or the catalytic converter. Just a bit wrong, and over time, you increase the wear and tear on the engine.
One expert on oils is Gulf Oil NZ Channel Development Manager Jared Tointon (below) who says motor oils are generally produced either to the specification to a particular vehicle manufacturer, or to an industry standard.
“In some cases engine manufacturers will build an engine to suit a particular specification, others will develop standards of their own. Often this relates to the market which they are in (eg Europe).”
There are subtleties to be aware of, he said. “An oil may be certified to a particular standard, but this is not the same thing as being an oil that is approved by an OEM for a particular vehicle. They are different ideals.”
Jared says repairers and owners should always check the owner’s manual to make sure they know what oil should be used.
“Some modern vehicle engines have been specifically designed for certain types of oil and some older vehicles shouldn’t use modern synthetic oil. “For example, zinc has been removed from modern oil and replaced with a synthetic, but some older engines need zinc.”
It is important that consumers and repairers tell the lubricant supplier the make/model/year of the vehicle the oil will be used in. “Simply saying it is a Hilux, and all Toyotas are the same is a thing of the past.”
He said there are very few vehicles where the wrong oil will have an instant effect, most will result in degenerative effects and plugging of particulate filters. “Often failure of a modern diesel engine through its emission control system is hard to trace when the issues developed. More often than not it is the last service provider who wears the brunt of a long run of bad servicing decisions.”
His advice was for repairers to take advantage of the oil supplier and oil retailer’s technical support and the information on their websites.