As the ACEA 2012 sequences are phased out, and with ACEA 2016 sequences now mandatory, PMF speaks to Andrew Goddard, Chairman of the Verification of Lubricant Specifications (VLS) about what the changes mean for motor factors and what further changes lie ahead.
The ACEA specifications are developed by the European Association of Original Equipment Manufacturers. It indicates a performance standard specifically tailored to the needs of the European vehicle market. Along with the SAE, such as 5W-30, it provides a vital piece of information for selecting the right oil to purchase for a particular vehicle.
Using the right oil really does matter. Putting inadequate or incorrect oil in a vehicle accelerates wear to gears and bearings which could significantly shorten an engine’s life.
As engine technology advances to cater to the demands for lower emissions and increased performance, lubricants change too. Higher operating temperatures with instances of higher pressures and smaller sumps require thinner, less viscous lubricants to work effectively. The ACEA sequences change to cater to this, being revised every few years. To balance clarity for users with practicality for the supply chain, each set of sequences has a crossover period. For the 2012 sequences, that has now come to an end.
The 2016 sequences have been mandatory for all new claims since 1st December 2017 and should now be the only claims in the market. these ACEA sequences identify relevant performance standards for lubricants based on the type of engine – usually the ‘A’ series of gasoline or petroleum engines and the ‘B’ series for diesel engines (including light vans). Both these ‘A’ and ‘B’ sequences are designed for vehicles not fitted with exhaust after-treatment devices. For vehicles that are fitted with either a catalytic converter or diesel particulate filter, the ‘C’ sequences apply; where ‘C’ represents catalyst compatible. So, a typical series of sequences might be ACEA A3/B4, or alternatively ACEA C3. The exact combination of letters will depend on the engine’s specific requirements, and for heavy commercial diesel engines, the ACEA ‘E’ series will apply.
ACEA has already started work on the next set of revisions, which is due to be published by the end of 2018. However, keeping up with the pace of change presents a real challenge. As engine technology evolves through the use of new turbochargers, low-speed pre-ignition (LSPI) and other changes, new tests need to be developed to ensure lubricants can be categorised correctly. Changes are expected across car, van and truck categories alike, to reflect the desire for increased efficiency in both fuel and emissions.
At VLS, the aim is to protect motor factors, workshops, technicians and everyone involved in the automotive supply chain by investigating claims regarding lubricants specifications. The organisation ensures that products are correctly described, can deliver what they claim and are fit for purpose. As the industry continues to innovate, it will focus on education to ensure that motor factors can be confident they are stocking and selling the correct oils.