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Engine oil: specifications and manufacturer approvals

In order to find the right engine oil for your own vehicle, you have to know the different lubricants with their various specifications and approval classes. What is hidden behind terms such as SAE class, ACEA and API classification.

Modern engine oils must have one thing above all else: The optimal lubricity - under all engine operating conditions. These include, for example, the speed or the engine temperature. In addition, the engine oil must also meet numerous quality requirements, such as the Cleaning effect, the Prevention of oil sludge formation or Friction reduction.

The neutralization of acids and compatibility with seals of all kinds must also be ensured in order to prevent damage to the oil filter, hoses and engine. Based on all of these different properties, motor oils are used in different specifications classified.

ACEA specifications

The ACEA (short for: Association des Constructeurs Européens d’Automobiles) is the association of European car manufacturers. you defines the quality of motor oils due to the requirements of the European automotive market. In the ACEA are 15 auto, Truck and bus manufacturers organized who produce in Europe. In addition to German manufacturers such as BMW, VW and Daimler, this also includes Renault, Volvo, Fiat Chrysler, Honda and Toyota.

The various designations of the ACEA specifications are formed from the suitability for the respective engine type, for exhaust aftertreatment and the number that indicates the performance of the oil. This is how an engine oil fulfills the ACEA class A3 / B3higher expectations as an oil of Classification A1 / B1.

The different ACEA classes

A = car gasoline engines (petrol)
B = diesel engines for cars, vans, vans
C = car petrol and car diesel engines with new exhaust gas aftertreatment systems (e.g. diesel particle filters)
E = truck diesel engines

The different Car companies have in addition to the general ACEA classifications own specifications for engine oils. After successfully completing their own tests, they give the lubricant producers a Manufacturer approval for the respective specially tested additive. These approvals are specified in company-specific classifications, such as "VW standard 504 00".

Viscosity classification

As viscosity of liquids becomes the measure of their internal friction designated. In the case of engine oils, the Classification of viscosity by being classified in international standardized SAE classes. SAE stands for the "Society of Automotive Engineers". The system of SAE classes defines temperatures and limits of viscosity based on certain test procedures. Two numbers are given for multigrade oils commercially available today.

With an additive of the class SAE 10W-40 describes the Number before "W." for example the Flow properties of the engine oil in the cold.Yes smaller this number is all the more better is the viscosity of the additive at low temperatures and the important lubrication points in the engine are reached faster by the oil.

The Number after the "W."describes the viscosity of the lubricant at 100 degrees Celsius. Ever higher this value is all the more better the lubricity of the engine oil high temperatures preserved in the engine.

Performance classes and API classification

In addition to the ACEA specifications, the various performance capabilities of motor oils are also specified in the API classifications set. API stands for "American Petroleum Institute". The classification of the lubricants is based on standardized engine test runs in the laboratory. The API classes are based on the US requirements and quality criteria that an engine oil fulfills.

The first letter refers to the Engine type. S stands for "Service Station" and thus for gasoline engines. The letter C means "Commercial" and applies to diesel engines in commercial vehicles. Passenger car diesels are not classified separately in the API.

The Performance differences between different Additives can use the second letter can be read from the identifier. In the case of engine oils for gasoline engines, a distinction is made between "SA" for unalloyed mineral oils and "SN", which is currently the highest performance class. The highest API performance class for diesel engine oils is currently "CK-4", while the new performance class "FA-4" was introduced at the same time.

More information on classifications and specifications of engine oil can be found in the PDF:

Motor Oil: Classifications and Specifications
View PDF

Manufacturer approvals

Different drive concepts and engines place different demands on engine oils. The correct oil quality and the corresponding oil change intervals are therefore determined by the Automakers determined in numerous tests and determined according to the metallurgy, the engine construction and the oil filter. To any Damage to the engine to avoid and to avoid eventual Warranty claims In principle, vehicle owners should not lose out Approvals and recommendations from the automaker hold. Usually you can find the manufacturer approvals in the vehicle operating instructions. If in doubt, an authorized workshop should be consulted.

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