Reducing lubricant inventories while ensuring quality

With such a vast selection of engine oils available today, how can factors be sure they are stocking the correct types, and why does using the correct specification even matter?

Some factors will recall when the selection of oils to choose from was much more limited, with a 10W-40 grade being suitable for a raft of different vehicles. These days, advancements in engine technology, tightening emissions regulations and demand for excellent performance and fuel economy mean there are many more oils available on the market, which can lead to confusion.

It is widely understood that using the wrong viscosity engine oil can lead to increased friction, resulting in excessive wear on engine components. However, using the wrong specification oil during a service could also potentially lead to the invalidation of the customer’s warranty.

EU Block Exemption law means manufacturers cannot invalidate a vehicle’s guarantee for not using a franchised dealer provided that the vehicle has been properly looked after in accordance with the manufacturer’s maintenance schedule, and that the correct fluids, including lubricants, have been used.

If there is a problem with the vehicle while it is under warranty and it goes back to the manufacturer, any warranty claim must be supported with full service history details including any parts that have been replaced and details of what lubricants and other fluids have been used.

If a car is serviced by an independent garage while it is under warranty, the garage should therefore log details of everything that it has repaired or replaced, including the grade of lubricant that has been used.

Oil, along with other items such as coolants and tyres, may be considered as ‘vehicle consumables’, and therefore perceived as less important than critical engine components such as the gear box or exhaust. However, using the correct lubricant is just as important as making sure the correct parts are fitted during repair work.

James McKnight, aftermarket sales manager at Total, said: “Most people know that if you put the wrong fuel in your car, it can very quickly become a costly mistake. However, with oil, if the wrong specification is used, it can take several thousand miles before things start to go wrong. Because lubricant is essential in order to prevent wear of major engine components, an inferior or incorrect product should never be used.

“It doesn’t have to be the brand of lubricant the manufacturer recommends, but it does have to be the exact specification stipulated by the manufacturer. If it is not, then over time, using the wrong oil could damage the engine and exhaust system.”

James explained: “Although there are many lubricants available in the market today, Total offers five or six high-quality grades that will cover the majority of the UK’s vehicle parc, meaning it can provide factors and garages with a smaller inventory, which takes up less space and is easier to manage and maintain.”

Most lubricants manufacturers have an online service which can identify the correct oil for a particular vehicle, such as Total’s Lub Advisor UK, where you simply type in the vehicle’s details and it tells you what specification should be used.

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