Automotive technology is constantly changing and workshops can find it challenging to keep pace.
As manufacturers push the boundaries of engine development, the people servicing the vehicles need the right products for each job – which is where synthetic lubricants come in.
The pursuit of performance has placed new demands on the lubricants required by modern vehicles, and has in turn impacted the lubricants used in workshops.
Gone are the days of simple engines requiring a basic oil. Today’s engines produce higher power outputs from smaller capacities, and are very economical compared to the engines of the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s. A key contributor to this power and economy gain has been advances in lubricants, which are expected to boost engine performance while lasting longer between servicing.
Using the right lubricants for modern vehicles
To meet consumer expectations, manufacturers have increasingly turned to synthetic lubricants. Ross Hallett, an independent workshop operator based in Melbourne, agrees it’s a challenge to have the right lubricants for modern vehicles.
“We service all sorts of vehicles here, and you never know what vehicle will turn up unexpectedly,” Ross says.
“Some of the manufacturers have designed their individual oil needs, instead of using industry-wide standards, so we need to carry lots of different types of synthetic oil. In the past, we only needed two or three oils to service all the vehicles; now it’s more like ten variations to cover high-performance vehicles, diesel cars, light commercials, standard smaller cars and SUVs.”
The lifeblood of an engine is its oil
Viva Energy lubricant expert Paul Smallacombe says the development of lubricants has gathered serious momentum over the past ten years, in both passenger cars and trucks.
“Car manufacturers are really pushing the boundaries in terms of fuel efficiency, power and longer periods between servicing,” he says.
“The lifeblood of an engine is its oil and all these changes are taking the demands of oil to new extremes. Fortunately, we have access to the best oil technology through our alignment with Shell, who have developed a revolutionary process that turns natural gas, a very clean and consistent product, into an extremely pure base oil.”
Shell’s PurePlus technology provides a 99.9 per cent pure end product, which means the oil can perform to a higher level than before, and stand up to the demanding requirements of modern vehicles. It performs well in hot and cold weather, protects components and can handle the long breaks between oil changes.
“The best part about PurePlus technology is that we know we have a product that will be able to stand up to whatever challenges the manufacturers demand,” says Paul.
Keeping workshops up to speed
As technology changes, it’s vital that workshops are aware of any lubricant developments. “Keeping my guys up to speed is crucial,” says Ross, “as using the wrong oil can cause expensive problems. We’re constantly using the supplier’s technical help desk and online tools to get the right recommendation.”
Paul also understands the challenges of a dynamic industry and regularly talks to people on the front line. “We speak to workshop owners and managers every day through our technical help line,” Paul says, “and we know it’s a big challenge for workshops to keep up with the number of oils they have to carry, the variety of cars they service, and keeping staff up to date.”
While the industry is constantly changing, workshop owners and managers who understand modern lubricants and have the tools and resources in place to support their staff will be well positioned to meet consumer demands.
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