By: Simon Michell is an expert in vehicle lubrication


What is important for you as an independent garage?

Obviously every workshop has a slightly different set of priorities. But I think it’s fair to say that whether it’s a Fiat to Ferrari – you are going to say yes to a customer that wants an oil and filter change. But – space is at a premium in your workshop, so you can only carry the essential oils.  And you have your eye firmly on, not just the sale, but the profit in the deal.

You are a proud professional, fully trained and just maybe the customer needs to suck it up and pay the appropriate rate if they want your expertise. Are these different dynamics reconcilable?  – Well, yes, at least with regards to your oil policy.

There are a lot of oils on the market… but how to chose the right one?


The good news is – It doesn’t have to be complicated to get the balance between limited workshop space and the world of engine oils. Let’s start by having a look at a typical independent garage customer base – maybe similar to yours?

The bread and butter business is usually the three to 10 year old cars. You may also service some newer vehicles, perhaps on a fleet contract. Finally there are the cars over 10 years old. The issues here tend to revolve around keeping them on the road in a cost effective way.

If this strikes a chord – This article is for you!


Let’s have a closer look at these three groups of customer’s cars – The three to 10 year old cars – The under three year old, usually still under manufacturer warranty  – and the over 10 year old cars.

Three to 10 year old cars

Three oils come to mind – All fully synthetic, all 5W-30 viscosity, but they have different specifications.

5W-30 Low SAPS C3 oil – the VAG 5W-30 – the Ford 5W-30

Let’s find out more about these oils.

The most popular is the 5W-30 fully synthetic Low SAPS C3 oil. 


Let’s delve a little deeper into the variety of specifications that are out there with this particular oil. The cheapest barrels have no specifications apart from ACEA C3. We then move up a level to the 5W-30 C3 oil with some manufacturer specifications. 

Confusion alert!  – Don’t worry about all the specifications and what they do. There is an easy to understand table at the end of the article.

The specifications you are likely to come across on a barrel of 5W-30 C3 oil are from Mercedes Benz, BMW, GM Dexos2 and maybe VW PD. 

The next level up is the manufacturer approved oil from the global oil players. These companies often deal directly with the car manufacturers’ research teams.  You are buying into this expertise, the brand, the heritage, the reassurance. What the 5W-30 C3 oil doesn’t offer is a VAG long-life or Ford solution.


VAG long-life oil

The key VAG specification is VW 504.00 and 507.00 (504.00 is the petrol spec and 507.00 the diesel spec) and the majority of modern VAG cars will have this oil recommended. VAG (VW, Audi, Skoda and Seat) oil specifications can be confusing – Not least because there are a lot of them going back in history. 

The good news is, there are only a couple of specifications that are useful to know. We have looked at the VW 504.00 and 507.00 Long-life 5W-30. The other specification is the VW PD 505.01 (PD stands for ‘Pumpe Duse’, meaning the high pressure fuel pump)

VW 505.01 was originally only available in 5W-40 viscosity – now it is commonly found in the first oil we looked at – the popular 5W-30 Low SAPS C3 but the important point here is not to confuse the popular 5W-30 C3 oil with the VAG 504.00/507.00.  They may be both 5W-30 and usually Low SAPS C3. They may even both have Mercedes Benz and BMW specifications – but only one will have the VW 504.00/507.00 specification oil. 

There is new VAG oil – we will be introduced to it when we look at the under three year old cars.

Ford oils

The third common oil for the independent workshop is the Ford oil – yes another 5W-30 fully synthetic! 

Ford 5W-30 oil started life as semi synthetic, way back in the early 2000. The original Ford specification was WSS-M2C 913-A/B (It’s the A and B bit that got updated). Another oil, 913-C, came along and was soon replaced by the Ford specification of Ford WSS-M2C 913-D. 

Depending on your circumstances, these three oils will achieve the balance we talked about – maximum application with minimum stocking requirements, whilst keeping within the all-important manufacturer’s specifications.

Talking of manufacturer’s specifications – Most oil manufacturers have a useful oil lookup site, driven by registration number. (Here’s the  the Valvoline oil look up for example)

Let’s have a look at the under 3 year old cars. 

This sector may include fleets that you look after, that use a variety of new car and commercial vehicles.

It was all so simple with Ford and the “913-D” specification that we looked at earlier. Ford then introduced three new oil specifications.

  • 5W-20 Ecoboost oil – Ford WSS-M2C 948-B.
  • 0W-30 oil – Ford WSS-M2C 950-A for the latest Mondeo and Transit engines.
  • Ford also have in their line up a 0W-20 – Ford WSS-M2C952-A1.


Next up is the Peugeot Citroen range. The newer PSA engines require a 0W-30 C2 with the PSA B71 2312 specification.

The earlier PSA engines require a 5W-30 C2 with a different Peugeot Citroen specification. (My first CAT magazine article goes into this in a bit more detail about this). 

Confusion alert!  – Just be careful not to mix up the PSA 0W-30 and the Ford 0W-30 oil!


If you see a lot of Renault/Nissan diesels, you will need a 5W-30 C4 oil, Renault RN 0720. Returning to VAG stable: VAG have introduced a new 0W-20 – VAG 508.00 509.00. It is not backward compatible to the VAG 5W-30 Long-life oil we looked at earlier. 

BMW have introduced three of new specifications – all in the table below. 


We then have the recent 2020 generation engines – They may require a 0W-20, 5W-20 or a 0W-16 oil  but be careful. It’s all about the manufacturer specifications that are stated in the handbook. 

ACEA C5 will feature with these new generation oils – and a new ACEA C6 is heading our way next year. 

ILSAC GF-6A and GF-6B oil specifications will also feature – amongst other attributes they help combat LSPI. More on LSPI below.

(In case you are wondering, ILSAC GF-6A will be applicable to a range of viscosities including 5W-20 and 0W-20 and ILSAC GF-6B will only be associated with 0W-16 viscosity oils)


Top tip: Use an oil manufacturer lookup site to get the correct premium oil– You know it makes sense.

There is a modern engine phenomenon lurking around called LSPI – Low Speed Pre Ignition. It is found in modern Direct Injection petrol engines. (GDI engines). It has a nasty habit of destroying engines. Vauxhall launched the GM Dexos 1 Gen 2 oil with a special oil formulation to combat the issue. 

Confusion alert! GM Dexos 1 Gen 2 is not the same as GM Dexos 2 oil found in the popular 5W-30 Low SAPS C3 oil. 


That leaves the over 10 year old cars. 

There are some obvious candidates. Some of the early Land Rover and Jaguars – these take a 5W-30 Low SAPS C1 oil. 

Then there is the ubiquitous 10W-40 semi synthetic oil that dominated back in the day, which still fits the bill nicely for many older cars. Do remember it is not a Low SAP oil. But that’s unlikely to be an issue for this age of vehicle. Going back even further we have a 15W-40 oil. 

Remember the original BMW M series? A 10W-60 oil works for some of these beasts. We can finish off with the 1970 classic car territory of the 20W-50 oil.

We started with Ferraris, let’s end with the Italian stallion. Ferraris do like a reassuringly thick oil. 5W-40 or even a 10W-60 – No fuel economy saving on their wish list!   But, for all our sakes, it would be wise to check the Ferrari recommendation using an oil manufacturer look up – Just saying!


The three tables below match the customer categories we went through.

This is not an exhaustive list, just the popular specifications you are likely to come across. There will be exceptions and the categories do have a degree of flexibility with the year ranges.


  • 3 to 10 year cars
  • Under 3 year old cars


  • Over 10 year old cars

3 to 10 year old cars

Common specifications

Multi-application oil

5W-30 Low SAPS C3

MB 229.51 or MB 229.52


GM Dexos 2

VW PD 505.01

Questions to help you to make an informed oil decision

Is the oil a basic 5W-30 with no specifications?

A multi specification 5W-30 C3 oil?

Or a manufacturer approved 5W-30 C2/C3 oil, with full specifications, supplied by a global oil manufacturer?

VAG Long-life

5W-30 C3

VAG 504.00 507.00

504.00 petrol 507.00 diesel

Ford fully synthetic


Ford WSS-M2C 913-D

Backward compatible to Ford semi synthetic

Under 3 year old cars

starting with the three Ford oils

Ford fully synthetic


Ford WSS-M2C 948-B

Ford Ecoboost

Ford fully synthetic


Ford WSS-M2C 950A

New Ford Transit and Mondeo

Ford fully synthetic


Ford WSS-M2C 952-A1

New Ford diesel engines

Continuing with the under 3 year old cars

2020 generation cars requiring

0W-20, 0W-16, 5W-20

Suggest use a manufacturer oil look up site

The oil may also have the ACEA C5, C6 or ILSAC GL6-A or GL6B specification



508.00 509.00

Latest VAG specification

Peugeot Citroen

0W-30 C2

PSA B71 2312

Latest PSA specification

Peugeot Citroen

(earlier engines – Listed here to compliment the later 0W-30 PSA oil specification)

5W-30 C2

PSA B71 2290

Do not use if a 0W-30 PSA B71 2312 is required

Vauxhall/ Opel

(now owned by PSA)

GM dexos1™ Gen 2

Do not confuse with GM Dexos2


Low Speed Pre Ignition issues


Renault RN 0720











Supersedes BMW LL-14 FE+




Land Rover


STJLR 03.5006


Land Rover


STJLR 03.5007


Land Rover

0W-20 C5

STJLR 51.5122

Mercedes Benz

0W-20 C5

MB 229.71




Usually found with VAG 508.00 509.00


0W-20 C5

Renault RN17 FE

Renault petrol and Euro 6 diesel


5W-30 C3

Renault RN17

Renault petrol and Euro 6 diesel

Over 10 year old cars

Early Land Rover and Jaguar



French and Japanese cars



Ford semi synthetic

WSS-M2C 913A/B/C


Compatible to Ford WSS-M2C 913-D

10W-40 semi synthetic


Not Low SAPS



Not Low SAPS


1970 generation cars


Early BMW M series


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