Monday, December 9, 2013

European Car Trivia

A list of the top ten European cars being sold in America included four models of Volkswagen, two BMW models, the Audi A4, Mini Cooper and two Mercedes-Benz models. Depending on where you live you may be noticing more and more of these cars.

Now here's the trivia question: How many of these top selling European cars are also in the top ten of cars being purchased in Europe?

Here's are some other questions. What kind of oil do you put in European cars? Do European cars require a different kind of oil than U.S. cars?

First, let's answer the trivia question.

The word trivia has its origins in the Latin word meaning trivial or inconsequential, unimportant. Unless you're an auto dealer for one of these brands this kind of information is nothing more than trivial fodder for light dinner party conversations. Those oil selection questions, if you drive a European car, are anything but trivial.

Since two of the top selling cars in Europe are American-made (Ford Focus and Ford Fiesta) we know the answer is eight or less. In fact, it's quite revealing to discover how very different these two lists are. It actually shows how different these two markets are.

Unless you're a car guy, there are some makes and models listed here that you may never have even heard of. Here's the list for June of 2013.*

1. VW Golf, top selling car in Europe
2. Vauxhall Corsa 
3. VW Polo
4. Ford Fiesta 
5. Renault Megane
6. Vauxhall/Opel Astra 
7. Renault Clio 
8. Ford Focus 
9. VW Passat
10. Peugeot 207 hatchback 

The two cars that made both lists were both manufactured by Volkswagen, the Golf and the Passat.

As for what oil to put in your European car, it's important to know that viscosity is not the only thing to pay attention to. A lot of us still remember when the only thing you needed to know about motor oil was when you last changed it and whether it was 10W-40 or not. It’s a whole new world. The primary differentiator among various makes and models of European car oils has to do with acceptable levels of sulfated ash, phosphorus and sulfur, which for our convenience is called SAPS.

SAPS makes up a significant part of an engine oil’s additive content. Different SAPS levels are necessary because some emissions systems and after treatment devices, such as diesel particulate filters (DPFs) and catalysts, are sensitive to the SAPS content of oil. These engines require lower SAPS formulations. Many vehicles, however, are not equipped with emissions systems that are sensitive to higher SAPS levels; they are best protected by full-SAPS oils.

The bottom line is that there’s been an evolution in engine designs and in European lube recommendations so that we have low, medium and high SAPs formulations now. Even though 5W-40 engine oils are in widespread use in Europe, not all 5W-40s are created equal. Depending on the application they have different SAPS levels.

If you own a European vehicle, here's a starting point to help you select the correct engine oil.

* Source: The Telegraph, Motoring Picture Galleries

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The Vauxhalls are pretty much Chevrolets. I wish the Clio and 207 were available here. The hot versions of those cars are pretty cool.