Tag Archive | "Lubricants"

VLS RECEIVES 50TH CASE

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VLS RECEIVES 50TH CASE


As the Verification of Lubricant Specifications receives its 50th case complaint, the Director reviews the cases it has investigated so far

VLS was formed in 2013, when the industry faced a real problem. Lubricant products were being sold by some new market entrants with claims that just did not seem to be believable. Closer inspection found that occasionally sub- standard formulations provided by newly-established companies were being passed off as the latest specifications to their customers, or even failing to perform effectively at low temperatures.

Even though the majority of lubricants were compliant with relevant market standards and manufacturer approvals, out of this concern reputable lubricant blenders and manufacturers came together to launch the Verification of Lubricant Specifications (VLS), an industry-led service that independently validates complaints regarding the technical specifications and performance claims of products.

Four years on, VLS has tackled 50 cases, receiving its 50th complaint in September this year. Looking back over the cases so far presents some interesting reading.

MISLEADING CLAIMS
The first case was received in March 2014. The complaint related to an engine oil which was making unrealistic claims that did not comply with ACEA sequences for which it was claimed to be suitable. At the time, VLS was still relatively new and people did not know what to expect. The company involved soon saw that it meant business as the case was escalated to Trading Standards and the company suspended from membership of the United Kingdom Lubricants Association (UKLA) until the matter was resolved.

Non-compliance with ACEA has accounted for the majority (60 percent) of cases. These engine oil sequences change every four years to take account of developments in emission regulations and technical developments in OEM engine design. Lubricant marketers need to manage their stockholding to ensure they are not left with old stock on the shelves when the new sequences become mandatory. VLS cases have shown that they will get reported, investigated and required to withdraw mislabelled stock if necessary.

COLD WEATHER
Around a quarter of cases have related to low temperature properties, which is a particular safety issue. In one case a lubricant was found to turn solid at temperatures of minus 40 degrees centigrade. Whilst the temperature in some parts of the country rarely stays below freezing for a sustained length of time, in Scotland, extreme temperatures are not uncommon. To be within specification, lubricants must be able to perform even in these extreme conditions to avoid damage to vehicles.

OIL TYPES
Of the cases investigated three quarters have related to passenger vehicle engine oils. This is in line with expectations, as automotive comprises a significant sector in the marketplace, as much as half of all lubricants sold. However, VLS’ remit does include everything from engine to transmission and gear oil and all have featured in cases. Seven cases of automotive gear oils with suspected low temperature properties have been investigated. Cases have also been reported in automotive transmission fluids and hydraulic fluids. VLS has even investigated agricultural tractor oil. So far only two cases have been received relating to industrial products and one in the marine sector. VLS plans to focus on raising awareness in this sector as well.

AFTERMARKET AND BEYOND

Over the course of 2017 the number of cases brought to the attention of the organisation has reduced as the initial issues of non-compliance have been tackled in the wider lubricant marketplace. There is now a greater awareness amongst marketers and blenders as to what constitutes a compliant product.

We know this because blenders report that there is a greater degree of compliance in the market place, additive companies tell us that they are engaging with companies that they have not had a relationship with previously, and European body ATIEL has also begun its own programme of policing conformity.

If you have any concerns about lubricant products then you can report them to VLS by calling 01442 875922 or emailing admin@ukla-vls.org. uk. VLS handles all cases anonymously through a clearly defined process which includes technical review by a panel of experts from across the industry and dialogue with the manufacturer and all relevant parties to work together to resolve any issues.

You can find out more about VLS by visiting their website: www.ukla-vls.org.uk or calling 01442 875922.

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ELF BACK ON THE SHELF

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ELF BACK ON THE SHELF


Lube maker Total has reintroduced the Elf brand to coincide with the latter’s 50th anniversary.

The oil firm will introduce a new line up, known as the ‘Sporti’ range comprising of six lubricants in a range of popular viscosities and with various OEM approvals. The product is now available in 208-litre barrels and 20-litre packs. Five litre and one litre refill packs will follow shortly.

Aimed at the mid-market, the maker says that the newcomers will all be blended with high-quality base oils and raw materials, though they will not have the so-called ‘Age Resistance’ additive technology used in the range-topping Total Quartz line.

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UP-SELLING ON OILS AND LUBES

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UP-SELLING ON OILS AND LUBES


There’s a profit to be made on oils and lubes if you have the right strategy in place

comma-oil

A market trend has started to form with the introduction of very low viscosity oil grades, designed to improve fuel efficiency and oil change intervals; opening up-selling opportunities for oils providing you can find exactly the right grade.

MARKET TREND
Mike Bewsey, Comma Oils Sales & Marketing Director, says that while 5w-30 remains a popular grade; this could be subject to change. “5w-30 products remain dominant as OE spec, but the future market trend as signaled in applications for the latest fuel efficient and hybrid engines is moving towards even lower viscosity oils in the 0w-20/- 0w-30 range” he said.
Chris Wall, Marketing Manager at Total Lubricants, concurs, saying: “It’s all about optimising engine efficiency: a balance between engine performance, engine protection and even fuel saving”.

INCREASING SALES
Our oil experts suggested a couple of ideas that will sweep those products off the counter and into the customer’s hands. Bewsey advises technicians to offer top-up cartons when the vehicle is being serviced, so the motorist will have a litre of the correct grade handy for service intervals, by recommending a ‘top up’ with the correct specification. He said: “As far as engine lubes are concerned, the most straightforward and profitable method is to offer your customer the correct top-up oil for their vehicle. Sell your customer the appropriate 1 or 2 litre top up oil pack (s) at the time of the oil change service interval, and urge then to check their vehicle’s oil level regularly, whatever its recommended oil change cycle”. Steve Dunn, Sales Director of Exol Lubricants, agrees, suggesting that workshops should be stressing the importance of buying high quality oil grades to customers. After all, the last thing a technician needs is a dissatisfied motorist returning a few weeks later to find they have poured in the wrong formulation, causing damage to the engine. “Garages should ensure customers check their oil regularly and raise the awareness to some of the pitfalls of incorrect oils”, said Dunn. “By encouraging garages to promote the importance of good quality oil, motorists are more inclined to use premium products of greater quality that offer long- term benefits rather than a cheaper alternative”.

OIL SELECTION
The influx of oils and lubricants available for petrol and diesel engines can cause a cloud of confusion among technicians when distinguishing the correct specifications for the job, particularly for businesses servicing a diverse range of vehicle models. To jump over this hurdle, most suppliers have a VRM look-up system in place to help choose the correct formulation first time round. Martyn Mann, Technical Director at Millers Oils, elaborated: “Our website has a facility called Which Oil? Users can enter the vehicle’s details in to find out the correct oil and quantity for the engine in question”, Mann continued: “We also have helplines where people can speak to a member of our technical team or alternatively, e-mail their query to us”. Similarly, Chris Wall from Total Lubricants says the supplier utilises a tool called ‘LubAdvisor’, what does what it says on the tin. He explained: “This easy to use tool allows technicians to look up the specific make and model in an instant, enabling them to make the right choice with confidence every time, with the information also available through industry cataloguing systems adopted by some of the big motor factor groups”. Les Downey, Managing Director of Lucas Oil adds: “The garage only needs the VRM, a PC and access to any one of a wide range of online tools and the specification is there on the screen. Alternatively, the motor factor can provide the advice”.

DEVELOPING ADDITIVE PACKS
Developing additive packs in house is a very expensive and time-consuming business, but as the number of VM-specific oil references grows it is necessary for oil blenders to either develop their own additive packs (which then need to be approved by the VM) or buy directly from additive suppliers. One company that buys ad packs in this way is SCT, which produces and distributes the Mannol brand in the UK. Jevgenij Lyzko from the firm says: “Our factory uses Infineum as additive supplier, as we highly trust their quality and professionalism”. He notes that his firm now produces various VM-specific lubes, which are easily identifiable by the black packaging, which have seen strong sales in the UK since being introduced two years ago.

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PETRONAS OPEN BRANDED CV WORKSHOP


Branded workshop opens

Branded workshop opens

Oil Company Petronas Lubricants International (PLI) has opened a branded workshop for CVs. The new branch is in partnership with contract hire and fleet maintenance company Alltruck.

Since CAT reported on the opening of the first branch in Hamburg last year, the lubricant firm has been busy signing up 1,200 workshops of different types across the continent. However, the venture with Alltruck marks the first branded CV workshop in the UK.
Petronas has set itself a target of 3,500 workshops across Europe within five years. Each workshop is autonomous and works on a ‘soft franchise’ basis with the firm.

Alessandro Orsini, PLI Regional Head of Europe said: “We continue to grow our network of branded workshops and this time, with Alltruck plc, we have established another first, especially for commercial vehicles. As part of the Petronas branded workshops network, independent garages such as Alltruck plc will benefit from stronger brand recognition as an affiliate”.

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TOTAL RENEWS FIVE-YEAR KIA DEAL

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TOTAL RENEWS FIVE-YEAR KIA DEAL


Total Lubricants has renewed its strategic partnership agreement with vehicle manufacturer Kia.

For the next five years, Total will remain the Korean VM’s preferred aftermarket lube supplier for its vehicles. Total branded oils will continue to be available in Kia dealerships in 180 countries, which includes the UK.

Kia and Total will also develop joint marketing service programs aimed at increasing Kia dealers’ profitability, customer retention and customer satisfaction.

 

The deal was signed between Steven Yoon, Vice President, Overseas Service Division at Kia Motors Corp. (left) and Pierre Duhot, General Manager, Automotive Division at Total

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FIAT 500 (2007-2015)


Fiat 500 (2007-2015)Cashing in on a spate of retro-styled vehicles, Fiat scored an immediate hit with the 500. Launched as a two-door hatchback and a cabrio, the
vehicle sold more than 1.5 million units during it’s seven year run and paved the way for the re-introduction to the North American market.

Curiously, the 500 was far more successful than the second-generation Ford Ka, with which it shared a platform – despite the fact that the Ford had a more comfortable suspension set up.

Engines include a naturally-aspirated 1.2 petrol, a more perky 1.3 and 1.4 petrol as well as a Multijet common-rail diesel unit. From 2010 onwards a Twinair version was also available. These two-cylinder engines are more similar in concept to the 1950s car, although the engineering could not be more different.

Just to confuse things, a special edition called ‘By Diesel’ was launched available in 1.2 and 1.4 petrol only!

WHEELS

Such is the way that these cars are configured when they were ordered there is a confusing array of wheel size combinations available for the same car. Briefly, you could order the car with 14,15 or 16” wheels. Fiatforum.com says that tyres should always be H-rated.

SUSPENSION UPGRADES

Anyone buying a Fiat 500 will have to get used to a choppy ride, particularly on pre-2010 models (there were a few changes made to the set-up in later cars). The fiatforum.com says that this harshness is due in part to the engine, with the 1.4 being the harshest and the 1.3 being the smoothest. Oddly, forum members indicate that the ride comfort can actually be improved with the fitment of Bilstein B14 sports dampers, although lowering a car is not usually associated with increased comfort.

Other members report that Koni FSD dampers can also be used as an aftermarket upgrade to the suspension. TecAlliance suggests that fitting a special plastic cover to the coil spring upper winding will sort this out.

MORE SUSPENSION ISSUES

Motaquip points out that upper shock absorber bushes are known to fail prematurely, causing knocking and vibration to occur within rear suspension components.

First Line note the odd fact that models fitted with Xenon headlights have a unique left hand suspension arm that differs from the standard left hand arm by having threaded mounting points for the headlight adjustment.

ROTATING ELECTRICS

1.2 and 1.4 petrol models have a known issue with the drive belt becoming loose say Autoelectro. This can be caused due to either incorrect tensioning of the drive belt or the belt has become stretched. This fault can result in belt slippage and the alternator to charge incorrectly. The firm also say that the 1.3 JTD/Multijet models with stop start have a known issue where the start-stop system fails to automatically re-start the engine. This fault is caused by a fault with the vehicles engine control module.

LUBRICATION

On all petrol models a smell of engine burning oil indicates the crankcase breather pipe down the back of the engine hair line splitting, causing fumes to enter the heating system according to the RMI.

The RMI also point out that if the engine oil pressure warning illuminates intermittently then there is an ECU issue that can be fixed with a software flash (unless of course there really is an issue with oil pressure drop, in which case the remedy is likely to be substantially more expensive).

Petronas say that care is needed when choosing the correct oil grade: 85hp Twinair requires a synthetic 5w-40 meeting ACEA C3, but the otherwise identical 65hp needs a synth 0w-30 meeting ACEA C2.

Comma Oil remind us that Fiat specify a two-year change interval for a reason: The system is hard worked and will degrade over time.

RECALLS

Surprisingly, there have been no fewer than ten DVSA recalls on this range. These include fuel leaking from the manifold and a risk of rear brake lock up. Worryingly (and we think uniquely) there was a risk of the wrong airbag deploying on certain models. The Arbarth had a recall relating to a risk of failing lights. Check that any model passing through your care has had these done.

BRAKES

Brake calipers are known to suffer with significant corrosion of sliding components resulting in diminished levels of return force for brake pads. This leads to vibration and noise resulting from the consequential brake drag say Motaquip.

GEARBOX

Some owners have reported excessive gear whine, which seems to be caused by oil starvation. Gearbox oil top-ups are occasionally needed – but level checks can sometimes get missed in services. Petronas recommend a synthetic-based 75w85 lube and the capacity is 1.65 litres.

STEERING

Knocking sounds that occur under steering loads can be attributed to the upper steering shaft fork incorrectly fixed/staked in place according to Motaquip. In extreme cases the fork can become separated from the shaft causing complete loss of steering function.

The presence of steering column noises is often caused by an insufficient quantity of thread locking agent being applied to the upper shaft fixing-bolt during assembly. In extreme cases this may result in a complete loss of steering control.

Premature failure of power steering motor can be diagnosed by instances of reduced levels of power steering response when performing slow manoeuvres such as parking or reversing. The solution for this would be to replace the power steering motor.

TRIM

Due to the number of options when new, you are unlikely to ever see two 500 interiors exactly the same. Some reports suggest that Blue&Me wireless connection can be troublesome, though the root of this problem is often down to the user’s phone. You can read the trim code on the VIN plate, although it may often be easier to source some trim parts second hand. Eagle-eyed readers may spot that the VIN starts with the Polish letter code SU through to SZ. This is because the 500 is built in Tychy, Poland in a factory used at various times to produce the Polski Fiat 126p, Cinquecento and Sceicento – the 500s immediate predecessors.

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