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Workshop: Oil Part IV – Heed The OEM Mantra

Words Freddi Stafford

To kick off where this series of articles started, it’s a simple truth that using OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) approved lubricants for your vehicle will substantially reduce maintenance
costs over the long term, protect exhaust emission equipment (DPF/TWC/DeNox/ SCR), and, with energy conserving lubricants, reduce fuel consumption and thereby minimise emission of the
four main pollutants – CO, HC, NOx & particles.

So, not only are OEM-approved lubricants environmentally friendly, but are more convenient as they offer a longer service life and less frequent maintenance/service intervals. Over the past 20 years, kilometres between oil-draining operations have been multiplied by three for petrol engines, and by four for diesel engines.

Unfortunately (and for numerous reasons) the agents do not always use the correctly specified lubricants; and, with a few exceptions, private workshops are usually far worse. Do not make the false assumption that the dealership or private workshop where you have your vehicle serviced knows best. As Isaac Asimov, the American author of popular science and science fiction so sagely advised, “Your assumptions are your windows on the world. Scrub them off every once in a while, or the light won’t come in.”

My suggestion is that you learn about the motor oil or transmission fluid recommended for your vehicle, and ask a few questions of the workshop owner or manager of the place where your car
is being serviced. Better yet, supply your own lubricants.

Stay clear of workshops in which you hear statements like, “We have been using the same oils for 10 years and we have not had a problem;” and “Oil is oil;” or “I have been a mechanic for 40 years − you cannot teach me anything about oil.”

New tech, new oils

In our last three articles, we discussed how automotive technology, and the lubricants that protect this technology, have changed forever, as have the days of universal motor oils for petrol and diesel engines, universal manual and automatic transmission fluids, antifreeze/coolants, transfer case and differential oils.

We also discussed how the choice of base oils significantly affects the ability of a lubricant to perform; and how engine-design developments aimed at reducing emissions have impacted greatly on
lubricant design.

Through all of this, we have maintained that using the OEM-approved lubricants is in the best interests of owners and their vehicles. This is because vehicle manufacturers often have vastly different specifications for the range of engines and transmissions they manufacture, and one is often not suitable for another. An example is that early BMW automatic transmissions used only hydraulic control with no electronic intervention.

Subsequent refinements, such as Electro-Hydraulic (EH) transmissions, introduced a new acronym: EGS (Elektronisch Getriebe Steurung) − electronic transmission control. These modern automatic transmissions are now able to achieve better fuel economy, reduced engine emissions, greater shift-system reliability, improved shift feel, improved shift speed and improved vehicle handling.

To read more articles from this issue please click here. To buy a copy of our magazine, please click here.

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