Do Europeans Use Better Oils?

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1,251
Location
Akron, OH
I said the following before: "We *DO* use inferior oil in the US. Tracking down the WHYS and WHEREFORES of the discrepancy between US and Euro oil changes is a job for an economist, sociologist or marketing person, but we *DO* use inferior oil in the US." I got challenged on this statement. I was asked for a citation, and I couldn't really find one. Was I correct, or was I actually wrong?
 

Kestas

Staff member
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14,009
Location
The Motor City
I don't have the facts to support your statement, but one difference I can point out that may give credence to your statement is that cars are a necessity in the US, whereas cars are more of a luxury in Europe and the rest of the world. The rest of the world depends on their mass transit to get around and they don't HAVE to own cars. In the US, even the lowly people below our working class find cars a necessity. That's why you see more high end sports and luxury cars in Europe, whereas you see more mass-produced, cookie cutter cars built as inexpensively as possible in the US. This same tradition is passed on to automotive care, maintenance, and products used in the aftermaket. [ March 16, 2004, 05:12 PM: Message edited by: Kestas ]
 
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2,534
Location
Pittsburgh, PA
[Cool] We don't have many Europeans on the site but there are a few Aussies. It has been noted that in Europe many cars recommend thicker oils and longer OCI's.
 
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764
Location
Fairfield County, CT
Well the Europeans seem to have more stringent ratings (VW 505/503, ACEA A3/B3/B4, MB 229.3/229.5 etc) compared to our "API SL" Also, many of the European cars sold here are factory filled and serviced with synthetic, whereas very few American cars are. But then again, many of the European cars sold here are somewhat upmarket. We don't have cars like the Fiat Uno, VW Polo, or Rover 25--I wonder what oil these cars use?
 
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6,388
Location
Washington St.
quote:
Originally posted by quadrun1: Well the Europeans seem to have more stringent ratings (VW 505/503, ACEA A3/B3/B4, MB 229.3/229.5 etc) compared to our "API SL" Also, many of the European cars sold here are factory filled and serviced with synthetic, whereas very few American cars are. But then again, many of the European cars sold here are somewhat upmarket. We don't have cars like the Fiat Uno (synthetic 0W-40), VW Polo (0W-30), or Rover 25 --I wonder what oil these cars use?
BP U.K. [ March 16, 2004, 06:49 PM: Message edited by: Ken2 ]
 
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34,480
Location
NJ
No they dont. They use oils that fit the conditions which are extended drains. Redline, Mobil 1, Amsoil, Synergyn all meet and exceed European specs. On average, they might have more readily availabe OTC brands that are of higher quality, but here in the US you have access to the best out there.
 
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2,962
Location
Georgia/Retired
Buster is onto something with his comment. While the Europeans have a more readily accessible group of high quality oils, they don't really have oils that are any better than our top of the line products. I have a friend that works for Fuchs and a friend that works for Pentosin and both of these gentlemen have told me that their companies turn to the USA for many of their additives. While Pentosin is owned 50% by Exxon/Mobil they still buy many additives from lubrizol and Ethyl.
 
Messages
184
Location
TN
quote:
Originally posted by buster: No they dont. They use oils that fit the conditions which are extended drains. Redline, Mobil 1, Amsoil, Synergyn all meet and exceed European specs. On average, they might have more readily availabe OTC brands that are of higher quality, but here in the US you have access to the best out there.
Well, I agree that we have access to the best oils here but on average Europeans do use better oils for exactly the reason you stated - to extend drain intervals. The push for extended intervals comes in big part because of conservationist, environment friendly trend that is very politically correct and the cost of oils due to taxation. Also most of manufacturers recommend the use of synthetic oils, something we don't see here in US unless you're driving european import. My brother lives in Europe and so far he had Opel Astra, Rover 620 and currently drives a Passat 1.8T and he's always used synthetics. He says it's a norm and in most service stations across the Europe you will get a synthetic oil unless you specify otherwise.
 
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1,130
Location
California
quote:
That's why you see more high end sports and luxury cars in Europe, whereas you see more mass-produced, cookie cutter cars built as inexpensively as possible in the US.
Uh, how much time have you spent in Europe? The last time I was in England I saw fewer high end cars than I do here in Northern California. Ditto for my last visit to France. Yes there is a tradition of making uber-expensive cars for the highest socio-economic classes in Europe, but those people and cars are still relatively rare. You probably find more of them in Beverly Hills, California than in most parts of Europe. Little econo-boxes are very much the norm in Europe and there are millions of them sold there every year. John
 
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43,676
Location
'Stralia
quote:
Originally posted by Kestas: I don't have the facts to support your statement, but one difference I can point out that may give credence to your statement is that cars are a necessity in the US, whereas cars are more of a luxury in Europe and the rest of the world. The rest of the world depends on their mass transit to get around and they don't HAVE to own cars. In the US, even the lowly people below our working class find cars a necessity.
Kestas, try catching anything other than a car interstate downunder, and you'll find a car is the only thing that we can use. And we have manufacturers specifying 15 and 20,000km oil changes.
 
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40,997
Location
Great Lakes
Tom, I'd split your question into two: 1. Do European car dealerships use better oils? I'd say definitely YES. So, while your car is under warranty, and you're forced to go to the dealer to have the maintenance done, pretty much all dealers use high quality synthetic oils, regardless of what car and what engine. Of course you pay an arm and a leg for it too (about $18/liter for a good oil here, like Castrol SLX 0w-30). 2. Do European car owners use better oil? Not necessarily. I know many people who after their warranty is over switch to lower quality synthetic blends and cheaper local oil brands just to save money. And to explain the reason for the use of better oils is what buster already mentioned - long drain intervals. Most new cars now are on 20-30k km (12-18k mi) intervals, so the oils have to be good enough to withstand this without wearing the engines too much. And just like CAFE in the US influences oil grade choices to improve mpg and reduce pollution, so do the environmental agencies here in Europe influence automakers to extend the drain intervals in order to reduce the amount of used oil being dumped/recycled/burned, etc. The fact is though, it seems, that no matter how cheap the oil and how long you keep it in there, the amount of additional wear on the engine is still insignificant. 9 out of 10 times it's something else on the car (body, electrical, suspension, etc.) that renders it useless, not the engine destroyed due to improper lubrication. Alas, despite knowing it, I am still an oil geek and change it on my car more often than necessary. [Wink]
 

TC

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1,644
Location
California
I did an Internet search for, but did not find, any articles which directly correlated/compared API specs such as "SL" to ACEA A-1, A-2, A-3. Found a lot of periphery stuff, but nothing that suggested "SL roughly equals A-X." This would go to the heart of the question at hand. Anybody know of any such articles or reference materials? Another related possibility is an owner's manual, technical bulletin, or oil firm literature for a Euro-made or Euro-market car that states something like "Use ACEA A-X, or API "SL" if an ACEA spec oil is unavailable." [ March 17, 2004, 06:27 PM: Message edited by: TC ]
 
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5,785
Location
Dixie
The ACEA, A3/B4 and OEM gas engine oil requirements like MB 229.5, VW 502/503.1, BMW Longlife, etc ... are much more stringent than API, "SL". The SL spec roughly equates to ACEA, "A1", which is the lowest tier spec in Europe. In addition, meeting the B4 tests for use in modern turbodiesels requires significantly higher detergency and dispersancy. A "diesel formulated" additive chemistry is also very beneficial when running long drain intervals ....I always look for ACEA B4 and not just A3 by itself. On the other hand, the API, CI-4 spec is as good as anything in Europe. Their ACEA "E5", commercial diesel spec is largely based on the CI-4 engine sequence tests, but adds some requirements needed for European, HD diesel engine designs ....
 

TC

Messages
1,644
Location
California
"The SL spec roughly equates to ACEA, "A1", which is the lowest tier spec in Europe." TooSlick: I'm not doubting you in the least, but might you know of any links/reference materials that address this issue? Like others, I have interest in reading more on the details of the cert comparisons, especially since this may answer a number of questions, such as why Euro oil change frequencies are so different than ours, etc.
 
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5,785
Location
Dixie
Well, it's pretty simple, I carefully reviewed the API and ACEA engine sequence tests, to see if they were roughly comparable.... For example, the minimum spec for HT/HS viscosity for SAE rated, xw-30 oils is 2.9 Cp. The requirement for A1/B1 is < 3.5 Cp. You can also compare the duration of specific types of tests, as well as the allowables for specific types of oil degradation. The types of engines used aren't exactly the same,but they're close enough. I don't look for "expert" answers to this stuff - not that any exist - I simply do my own research and draw my own conclusions. It helps that my background is in mechanical engineering and materials science, but all the API/ACEA test requirements are available on the "net. Anyone who took HS chemistry and calculus and wasn't stoned all the time should be able to do it - seriously. European drain intervals in gas/diesel engine, passenger vehicles are based on a three "tiered", oil quality system. For example, if you run an ACEA, A3/B4 or A5/B5 rated, full synthetic, you can "officially" use longer drains than if you used an A1/B1 quality, petroleum oil or A2/B2 quality synthetic blend. The OEM's specify varying drain intervals for the same engines, based directly on oil quality levels as defined by the OEM's ....You won't see this in the US until we send all the lawyers to "GitMo" [Wink]
 
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19
Location
Montréal
The Europeans don't all drive Mercedes and BMW. These are "luxury" cars there. They drive Renaults, Peugeots, Citroens, Fiats, VW Polo and Golf, Opels and so on. If you compare these to American cars, you'll notice an obvious difference: the european engines are usually of the 4 cylinders low displacement high compression high rpm type. 1.3 l is typical and 1.8 l is a LARGE engine for Europe. City driving means 3000 rpm. Gasoline needs to be 94 octane or better. Compare this with the little bugs here - e.g. a Chrysler Neon has a standard 2 liter engine that works with regular gas at low rpm. This engine would be used in Europe on *large* cars. And the "typical" American engine is a V6 with around 3 liters displacement that purrs at 1500-2000 rpm at highway speeds. Maybe the typical US car really doesnt call for the same oil as an European one ?
 
Messages
34
Location
Greece
quote:
Originally posted by quadrun1: Well the Europeans seem to have more stringent ratings (VW 505/503, ACEA A3/B3/B4, MB 229.3/229.5 etc) compared to our "API SL" Also, many of the European cars sold here are factory filled and serviced with synthetic, whereas very few American cars are. But then again, many of the European cars sold here are somewhat upmarket. We don't have cars like the Fiat Uno, VW Polo, or Rover 25--I wonder what oil these cars use?
Hi... Living in Europe, Greece actually, I have to state that "large" cars here are those above 1.8l engine. But the majority of sold cars annually are 1.0l - 1.6l(65%). Furthermore, theese "small" engines are running in high rpm in order to keep running "with dignity" as we call it here. In this market also, small "rocket" cars are also quite famous, such as Fiat Punto GT, Citroen Saxo VTS, Peugeot Rally, Suzuki Swift Gti, VW Polo GTi....Those cars have either 16valve engines running high prm's(Peugeot does 7500rpm!), or Tubro(Fiat Punto GT). Furthermore, these cars have extra high HP in comparison with their cc, and as an example I can tell you this: 1)Peugeot Rallye has 1.6l engine, 122HP, 950Kg, 0-100Km/h in 8.2sec and 205Km/h max speed. 2)Fiat Punto Gt has 1.4l engine, 130HP, 1000Kg, 0-100Km/h in 7.9sec [Eek!] and 208Km/h max speed. Those engines need the best oil someone can find in order to last for at least 200.000Km's. In the majority of 16v engines, 10W/40 oil is highly reccomented, and for those that want that "extra" for their car engine they use 10W/60. As for the Turbo engine of Fiat Punto Gt, 10W/60 is what Fiat Hellas recomments. I do use this oil for the last 7 years and done 150.000Km's up so far with no problem at all. Finally, keep in mind that what oil an official dealer will recomment for use depents on the part of Europe you're living. For example, in Germany, they don't use 10W/60, their climate is much colder than Greece's, here in Greece the temp goes from -15 C up to 45 C sometimes!! [Eek!]
 
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