Using the Right Oil for the Right Vehicles

Using the Right Oil for the Right Vehicles

Aug 17, 2022
Posted by Yash Naik, Product Manager

This article highlights the key takeaways from our recent presentation ‘Using the Right Oil for the Right Vehicles to Protect Engines, Reduce Fuel Costs and Cut Emissions’ which was presented at the Regional training on Inspections and Monitoring Framework for Used Vehicles Imported in the ECOWAS Regions.

The drive for a cleaner environment means governments across the globe are imposing increasingly strict limits on vehicle tailpipe emissions.  Vehicle manufacturers are obligated to continuously innovate and upgrade their hardware to meet these challenging requirements. 

The lubricant is an integral part of modern low-emission engine hardware as it prolongs the life of emission control devices and improves fuel efficiency, while maintaining or improving durability.  It is therefore a key enabler in delivering low transport emissions and vehicle longevity such that using an incompatible lubricant can easily result in a reversal of these key benefits.

For many years, the African continent has been a key export market for used vehicles from the US, Europe and Japan. Industry reports suggests that a significant percentage of commercial and passenger vehicles currently present on the roads of Africa were built to meet the latest Euro V and Euro VI emissions requirements. 

The engine and exhaust aftertreatment hardware built into these vehicles are highly sensitive to lubricant quality.  Specific lower SAPS engine oils are designed to offer performance and protection to these complex and expensive components.  The use of older generation lubricants such as API CF and API CF-4, which are still used in many African markets, can cause serious damage to modern vehicle hardware. 

One key example is the blockage of diesel particulate filters (DPF).  Ash, which is usually higher in older-generation oils, collects in these filters and causes a build-up of exhaust back pressure, resulting in increased fuel consumption or engine malfunction.  Expensive maintenance is then needed to clean or replace the DPF.

In addition, modern engines often run much hotter than previous-generation hardware which can easily lead to high levels of oxidation and deposits.  Using incompatible oils can lead to inefficient combustion, poor oil circulation, physical blockages, or even complete engine failure.

With these factors in mind, the real-world cost of using older generation lubricants to the environment, truck operators and the economy cannot be ignored. 

The import of ever more modern and advanced engine hardware into Africa is inevitable. Governments of various regions across the globe have already mandated a minimum oil quality to reduce the negative effects of older lubricants, and the time is rapidly approaching for African countries to follow suit. 

The most recent categories of engine oil specifications such as API CJ-4 and API CK-4 are designed for modern emissions-compliant engines, but are also backwards compatible.  This means that a lubricant upgrade can be easily deployed into existing fleets which have a mixture of newer and older engine hardware, without increasing workshop complexity.

The challenge for the lubricant industry is to ensure vehicle owners, fleet operators, mechanics and trade channel understand the importance of lubricant quality and the consequences of using inferior products.

Programs to educate and encourage consumers and fleets to use the right lubricant for their vehicles should be implemented as part of the African Clean Mobility roadmap.

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