With almost 30 years’ experience in the oil and lubricants industry, Morris Lubricants’ Automotive Product Manager, Adrian Hill, is perfectly placed to provide his expert insight and analysis.
Q.What are your views on the increasing tendency for manufacturers to extend the life of both the oil and the filter on new vehicles? Would there be any benefit from switching to a premium fully-synthetic after, say, 1,000 miles of typical city driving instead? 12 months or 12,000 miles does seem an awfully long service interval for a brand-new engine… Mike Carter, Secusoft Autos, Chichester
The subject of oil and filter service life is an interesting one. Legislation continues to push OEMs to design cleaner-burning and more fuel-efficient petrol and diesel engines. Increased complexity in these engine designs, with numerous after- treatment devices, advanced combustion technology and full electronic control, has the benefit of producing ever-decreasing amounts of combustion by-products, which ultimately affect oil and filter life.
These new lower emission designs can therefore contribute to the increase in service intervals. However, extending the service life does have its limits, as certain additive chemistry used in the latest formulations can affect the service life of the after-treatment devices (DPFs, for example) and as such are present at controlled levels. Consequently, it has been interesting to see that the average sump size has started to increase to counter this.
In answer to the second query: to ensure the best protection during the service interval of any vehicle, the manufacturer’s recommended oil type should always be followed. Following these guidelines is particularly important if the vehicle is under warranty, which may become void if there is an oil-related failure.
The use of the terms ‘fully synthetic’ or ‘semi-synthetic’, gives no clue as to the performance level of the oil (i.e. ACEA, API or OEM specifications). It’s the performance level that matters and dictates what type of base oils will be used in the formulation. Certain ‘fully synthetic’ motor racing oils would be completely unsuitable for a road-going vehicle and could damage after-treatment devices, such as DPFs and catalysts.
Always ensure that the oil used complies with the performance level issued by the manufacturer, as this will have been chosen to ensure the highest level of protection for that particular design. This performance level will protect under all driving conditions, whether it’s city driving or motorway work.
Bear in mind that, although 12 months or 12,000 miles does seem a long time, in the heavy duty diesel world of trucks, for example, oils are designed to exceed 100,000km!