05 Mar 2024

Garages urged to highlight importance of oil changes to customers

Garages will need to remind their customers about the importance of regular oil changes as the cost of living crisis bites, Lubricants trade body the Verification of Lubricant Specifications (VLS) has warned.

VLS Chairman Mike Bewsey said: “Customers might think because they haven’t done many miles this year, the oil change and filter replacement are not required. But sticking to the recommended service interval is crucial to maintain and protect the vehicle, which is likely to be worth a lot more than the cost of the oil change. Frequent short trips can be even more detrimental to the oil than higher mileage due to the accumulation of water and fuel, and the formation of sludge during Stop/Start and cold phases.”

Mike continued: “Research from companies like Halfords and BookMyGarage.com shows that up to 40% of motorists feel that they can’t afford their next MOT, and the numbers for more expensive servicing are likely to be even higher. But postponing or skipping oil changes or ignoring the oil warning light is a risk we are asking motorists not to take. Doing so could starve the engine of vital lubricants, risking increased wear and, at worst, lead to a catastrophic event like an engine seizure and a much more expensive repair later on. OEMs set oil change schedules for a reason. They know their engines, how they run on certain fuels and in specific regions, and they know how the engine oil, as well as other consumables, perform over time and mileage.”

VLS is also keen to dissuade motorists from undertaking DIY oil changes, as they may not understand how much vehicle lubricants have changed in recent years: “Engine oil is an increasingly complex area, yet it’s more important than ever to select the right lubricant. Modern vehicle engines require sophisticated lubricants using advanced chemistry. Even the slightest change in the formulation has the potential to cause engine damage in the long term. It’s important to look beyond the viscosity to ACEA and OEM specifications as well and be careful of generic OEM claims such as ‘Suitable for’, as these haven’t been tested by the manufacturer themselves. Online vehicle databases are the safest way to find the correct lubricant for each vehicle, using its unique registration.”