Dan Peterson | TECHNICAL DIRECTOR
|New AMSOIL European Car Formula 5W-30 Synthetic Motor Oil meets the latest Volkswagen specification, VW 504.00/507.00|
The European motor oil market has always been different from the North American market. European engine oil drain intervals have consistently been longer than those in the U.S., and oil formulations and additive packages have also differed from those of North American engine oils. These differences are due primarily to European emissions legislation, fuel economy concerns and stringent severe-service oil durability requirements.
In the United States, oil classifications and requirements are developed through a process involving a number of trade associations and organizations, and the classifications are finalized and managed by the American Petroleum Institute (API) and the International Lubricant Standardization and Approval Committee (ILSAC). In Europe, industry wide specifications are developed by the Association des Constructeurs Européens d ‘Automobiles (ACEA).
The API-governed engine oil specification has traditionally been the most common in the U.S., and oils meeting current API specs are still widely used today. More recently, ILSAC, which has a more global focus, is having a greater influence on North American specifications due to the rising number of Japanese vehicles sold in the U.S. As a result, the new ILSAC specification, GF-5, differs more from its API counterpart, SN, than in the past.
ACEA does not have the recognition and influence in Europe that API does in North America because individual vehicle manufacturers in Europe strongly support their own engine oil specifications. As a result, there are a number of different widely used European engine oil specifications, and oil manufacturers are tasked with building appropriate engine lubes for each.
As these new European vehicles make their way to the U.S., consumers are discovering they can’t necessarily use just any oil. One recognized example of a very particular specification is Volkswagen VW 504.00/507.00 (504.00 covers gasoline engines, 507.00 covers diesel engines). This specialized engine oil specification was designed by VW to help protect emissions-reduction equipment and support proper operation and longevity of the vehicle. Until recently, AMSOIL did not offer a product meeting this specification, and there are only a handful of oils available in the U.S. that do. New AMSOIL European Car Formula 5W-30 Synthetic Motor Oil (product code AEL, see p. 13) does meet the spec, as well as the ACEA A3/ B4 specification, which was created with slightly different priorities than the VW 504.00/507.00 spec.
ACEA oils engineered for the A3/B4 category meet the requirements of direct-injected gasoline and diesel engines in addition to the requirements of A3/B3. In order to provide optimal performance in direct-injection diesel engines, an oil must be highly stable and durable; direct-injection systems are notoriously hard on engine oil. ACEA A3/B3 European oil specifications require stable, stay-in-grade engine oils to ensure these high-performance engines are protected from inadequate oil supply and excessive wear. For an oil to be considered stay-in-grade, it must resist thickening or thinning out of an established viscosity range. The table below outlines the general differences between four ACEA sequences for gasoline and light-duty diesel oils in regard to fuel economy benefits and drain interval recommendations.
Moving forward, Volkswagen plans to maintain three global engine oil specifications for its light-duty gasoline and diesel vehicles: VW 504.00/507.00, VW 502.00/505.01 and VW 501.01/505.00. New AMSOIL European Car Formula 5W-30 Synthetic Motor Oil is recommended for Volkswagen vehicles requiring VW 504.00/507.00, while AMSOIL European Car Formula 5W-40 Synthetic Motor Oil is designed for Volkswagens requiring VW 502.00/505.00/505.01. Both formulations are recommended for the ACEA A3/B4 specification, among others.
The ACEA European Oil Sequences define performance requirements for gasoline and light-duty diesel engine motor oil. Each sequence (class and category) reflects different engine oil performance levels. As shown in the chart above, different categories are required to meet key criteria including fuel economy and oil drain interval.