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European Motor Oil, Feature Articles, Tech Talk

European Car Motor Oils

 April 21, 2021

By  Greg

Matt Erickson

European Motor oil isn’t “one-size-fits-all”

There are notable differences between European Motor oil and domestic vehicles.

Matt Erickson | DIRECTOR, TECHNICAL PRODUCT MANAGEMENT

For all their benefits, like finely tuned performance, styling and prestige, European cars can be a hassle to maintain. Some makes and models are notorious for their interesting and sometimes expensive quirks. Another notable difference is the motor oil they use, which I’d like to explain today.

European Motor Oil

OEMs Create Their Own Oil Specifications

One of the biggest differences between oils for European cars and domestic cars is the performance requirements each must meet. In the U.S. and Canada, it’s typically an industry-wide motor oil specification, such as API SP.

European original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), however, typically maintain their own motor oil performance specifications. A Volkswagen* owner, for example, must use an oil that meets the requirements of VW’s own performance specs. The same holds for MercedesBenz,* BMW,* Porsche* and other European cars.

Complicating matters, each OEM motor oil specification is slightly different. One OEM may require an oil that offers better performance against oxidation, while another requires better resistance to viscosity loss. And different engine models can require different oil chemistries of the same viscosity. For example, VW requires some of its engines to use a 0W-20 oil that meets its 508.00/509.00 spec, but others must use a 0W-20 oil that meets a different spec. Some BMW engines require a 5W-40 oil that meets the BMW LL-01 spec, while others require a 5W-40 that meets the BMW LL-04 spec. The specificity can easily confuse motorists

OEM specifications tend to be more strict and require increased motor oil performance than the industry specs to which we’re accustomed. This, of course, requires more advanced (and typically expensive) motor-oil technology delivered almost exclusively by synthetics.

General Motors,* for its part, has taken a page out of the playbook of its European counterparts by maintaining its own GM dexos* performance specifications. I suspect we’ll see more of this from domestic OEMs in the coming years.

More-Strict Emissions Standards

The European Union maintains more strict standards for carbon dioxide (CO2) and carbon monoxide (CO) emissions than we do. (Our standards for nitrogen oxides [NOx] and particulate matter [PM] are more strict, however.) Because modern diesels emit lower CO2 than gasoline engines, the European market pivoted toward diesel-powered vehicles in the 1990s. Diesels also provide better fuel economy.

One drawback, however, is the higher levels of NOx and PM that diesels produce. To counteract this, diesel-powered vehicles use diesel particulate filters (DPF) and catalysts designed to reduce pollutants from the exhaust before they exit the tailpipe.

An oil’s formulation can negatively affect sensitive emissions-control devices. Certain components in the motor oil can reduce the effectiveness and life of DPFs and other emissions devices. For that reason, European specifications often limit certain ingredients to protect emissions-control systems.

Longer Oil-Change Intervals

Europeans have long practiced what’s only recently caught on in North America – longer oil-change intervals.

Europeans are accustomed to changing oil far less often, with drain intervals of 10,000 miles (16,000 km) or so quite common. One reason is the higher cost of oil in Europe. Another is the differences between manufacturer recommendations. For example, most modern BMWs require oil changes only every 15,000 miles (24,140 km). In the U.S., most people change oil around every 5,000 miles (8,000 km). The figure increases if the vehicle is equipped with an electronic oil-life monitoring system.

Longer drain intervals common with European cars require an oil capable of protecting against wear, deposits and sludge for the duration, which requires a more robust oil.

Different Viscosities

In addition, many European OEMs have historically suggested different viscosities for different operating temperature ranges. In cold weather, the OEM may recommend 5W-30. In warm weather, 5W-40. Traditionally, drivers settle on a 0W-40 or 5W-40 to offer the best of both worlds – good cold-flow at startup to protect against wear and good resistance to heat once operating temperatures are reached. However, like their domestic counterparts, European manufacturers are increasingly recommending reduced oil viscosities to help improve fuel economy.

Our updated line of 100% Synthetic European Motor Oil reflects this trend. We recently introduced two new 0W-20 products. Our full line provides an option for just about any European car owner, no matter the performance spec or viscosity. The best way to find the right oil is to use our Product Guide at AMSOIL. com or AMSOIL.ca.

European cars offer an excellent driving experience; be sure to protect them with AMSOIL Synthetic European Motor Oil.

European Motor Oil Refresh

We’ve revamped European Car Formula with a new look and feel, including renaming it 100% Synthetic European Motor Oil to indicate coverage of both cars and trucks. The product line features updated packaging and labels that better differentiate full-SAPS, mid-SAPS and low-SAPS formulas. These new packages will be introduced as existing inventory is depleted. To round out the line and provide sales opportunities where none previously existed, we also added two new 0W-20 viscosity products (AFE, EZT) that fill the unique specifications of certain European engines.

AMSOIL 100% Synthetic European Motor Oil (EFO, EFM, AEL, AFL) continues to provide the same great performance.

  • Engineered to meet European manufacturers’ specifications
  • Excellent protection for the unique needs of gasoline, diesel and hybrid European vehicles
  • Fights sludge for superior engine cleanliness

Updated labels and packaging? Yes
Date Available? September (as current inventory is depleted)
Formulation change? No
New stock numbers? No
Price change? No

New SAE 0W-20 LS and SAE 0W-20 LS-VW European Motor Oils (AFE, EZT) have been added to the family and are recommended for European engines that require 0W-20 motor oil.

Two 0W-20 Products?

You may be wondering why we're introducing two separate 0W-20 products. While both products are the same viscosity, the specifications they carry are quite different and require unique engineering to meet the needs of these highly specialized engines. Both products offer the same benefits as all the other viscosities.

SAPS Identification

Many European vehicles available in North America feature gasoline and diesel engines with emissions systems that are highly sensitive to the SAPS (sulfated ash, phosphorus and sulfur) content of motor oil. SAPS are common oil additives that provide desirable performance properties, including detergency and protection against wear and oxidation. Different emissions systems require different SAPS levels – it’s not one-size fits-all. Our updated European motor oil line has labels that feature FS, MS and LS identification to help differentiate between full-SAPS, mid-SAPS and low-SAPS.

Complete Coverage

AMSOIL European Motor Oil meets and often exceeds strict European manufacturer specifications. Its shear-stable synthetic base oils and high-quality anti-wear additives provide outstanding protection in high temperature conditions and deliver dependable performance throughout the long drain intervals recommended by European manufacturers.

Superior Engine Cleanliness

The excellent oxidation stability, heat resistance and detergency properties of AMSOIL European Motor Oil help keep engines clean. It is designed to prevent sludge and varnish deposits, reduce oil consumption, extend engine life and provide maximum performance.

Excellent For Turbochargers

AMSOIL European Motor Oil has a robust composition that shields engines from the high temperatures produced by turbochargers. Its thermally stable oil formulation resists deposit formation and cools turbochargers. Its low pour point protects turbochargers against oil starvation in subzero temperatures and ensures a rapid return to appropriate oil pressure at startup.

For more insights into the European motor oil market, consult the European Motor Oil Dealer Sales Brief in the Dealer Zone (Learning Center>Dealer Sales Briefs).

100% Synthetic European Motor Oil

Specially Formulated for European Gasoline and Diesel Engines

European performance and styling define a culture of exceptional engineering. AMSOIL matches that devotion to precision with lubricants specially designed for the unique demands of gasoline, diesel and hybrid European vehicles.

Our exclusive European formula features a precise blend of advanced synthetic base oils and premium additives that delivers exceptional engine protection without harming emissions systems

Complete Coverage

AMSOIL European Motor Oil meets and often exceeds strict European manufacturer specifications. Its shear-stable synthetic base oils and high-quality anti-wear additives provide outstanding protection in high-temperature conditions and deliver dependable performance throughout the long drain intervals recommended by European manufacturers.

Emissions System Protection

AMSOIL European Motor Oil features precisely balanced formulations that consider the needs of modern exhaust treatment devices. Protecting sensitive emissions systems depends on using the optimal blend of SAPS (sulfated ash, phosphorus and sulfur). AMSOIL European Motor Oil is carefully crafted in six varieties to ensure proper emissions system function.

Superior Engine Cleanliness

The excellent oxidation stability, heat resistance and detergency properties of AMSOIL European Motor Oil help keep engines clean. It is specifically designed to prevent sludge and varnish deposits, reduce oil consumption, extend engine life and provide maximum performance.

Excellent For Turbochargers

AMSOIL European Motor Oil has a robust composition that shields engines from the high temperatures produced by turbochargers. Its thermally stable oil formulation resists deposit formation and cools turbochargers. Its low pour point protects turbochargers against oil starvation in subzero temperatures and ensures a rapid return to appropriate oil pressure at startup.

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