Misleading packaging continues to cause issues in the lubricants market. Andrew Goddard, Chairman of the Veriﬁcation of Lubricant Speciﬁcations (VLS), explains what the industry body is doing to improve education and uphold standards in the industry.
The lubricants market is facing huge challenges. Like many parts of the automotive aftermarket, manufacturers are preparing for the impact of Brexit, whilst responding to the market challenges raised by the move to electrification, reduced emissions, reducing stockholding and an ageing car parc. Formulations are constantly being revised or created to cater to the latest, most efficient generation of engines. Yet, according to the latest ACEA data, the average age of vehicles on UK roads remains over eight years old.
Small space is a big issue
Motor factors are under pressure to make every square foot of space deliver maximum returns. As a result, the lubricants industry has seen a rise in the number of oils claiming to meet an increasing number of OEM and ACEA specifications; a ‘one size fits all’ approach. However, modern, sophisticated engines require specific oils to meet their exact needs for high performance and low emissions. Using the wrong oil can cause accelerated wear in gears and bearings, leading to increased maintenance costs, and, if left unchecked, eventual engine failure.
Complaints on the rise
VLS saw an increase last year in complaints about a number of products’ ability to meet their own marketing claims. Cases were brought against 5W30 automotive oils from different manufacturers. In every case, the independent VLS Technical Review Panel investigated and upheld the complaints. Products were making claims that they couldn’t support or were making multiple OEM specifications that were mutually exclusive. VLS worked with the manufacturers and marketers involved to amend technical data sheets and packaging accordingly, so that products were brought in line with current regulations, OEM specifications and market standards.
Raising standards through education
Mechanics and end users must have confidence that the lubricants they select for their vehicle really can deliver what they claim. That is why VLS seeks not only to resolve product issues, but also to work with the parties involved to increase their understanding in this highly technical matter.
End users rely on lubricant packaging and technical data sheets to confirm that the oil they are buying is fit for purpose. To support lubricant manufacturers and marketers further, VLS is working on improving its own guidance for lubricant marketing claims. The aim of the guidance is to bring even greater clarity in the use of marketing claims, and promote consistency in their use, thereby supporting the end user to better understand these terms and how they are applied in connection with the description and specification of lubricant products. This will also provide an even tighter framework for assessing and resolving any future product complaints.
VLS is an independent organisation providing a credible and trusted means to verify lubricant specifications. It welcomes new members from across the lubricants industry, including manufacturers, marketers, distributors, end-users such as garage workshops, and related industry trade associations.