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VLS investigations lead to removal from sale of lubricant products

The Verification of Lubricants Specifications (VLS) has recently brought several cases concerning low temperature properties to a conclusion, resulting in affirmative action from the companies involved.

The independent organisation was established 10-years ago to provide a credible and trusted means to verify lubricant specifications. It aims to make the lubricants market more transparent, while also helping to educate the end user as to the benefits of using genuine oils. 

The latest cases concerned gear and transmission lubricants, and saw VLS independently obtain samples to test the properties of the oils against claimed specifications.

Low temperature properties

Case VLS010183 concerned a complaint regarding Westway Lubricants 75W-90 Synthetic Gear Oil and the product’s compliance with SAE J306 regarding low temperature properties, and its claim to meet MB 235.8 standards specified by Mercedes-Benz. 

VLS independently procured a sample of the product within the UK and tested it against ASTM D2983, the industry standard for low-temperature properties. The test results demonstrated that the product did not comply with the SAE 75W specification detailed in the SAE J306 standard, as it turned solid before reaching -40 °C.

In response to the investigation, Westway Lubricants quarantined all stock and arranged an uplift of products from the warehouse with the supplier. They also changed supplier and removed reference to the MB 235.8 specification from the product label.

Case VLS010184 concerned a complaint regarding Fanfaro 75W-90 Max 6 GL-5 Gear Oil, a synthetic gear oil suitable for use in all types of manual transmissions, passenger cars, heavy duty highway and off-roadvehicles, and its compliance with SAE J306 regarding low temperature properties.

Once again, the body independently procured a sample of the product within the UK and tested it for low temperature properties against ASTM D2983. The test results indicated that the product did not meet the SAE 75W specification as defined in the standard SAE J306 when measured using the ASTM D2983 method.

Fanfaro immediately quarantined the product and arranged for the disposal of all stock in their warehouse. They contacted their supplier, which arranged a reblend of the product and has committed to sending VLS the new batch test result as soon as it has been received.

Case VLS010185 concerned a complaint regarding Granville 75W-90 Fully Synthetic Manual Transmission Fluid concerning its compliance with SAE J306. 

Another sample was independently sourced in the UK and tested it for low temperature properties against ASTM D2983, which indicated that the product was not compliant due to excessive viscosity at -40°C and, therefore not meeting the requirements of an SAE 75W grade as defined in the SAE J306 standard.

In response to the investigation, Granville advised VLS that it has changed its supplier since the product was blended in 2020 and filled in 2021. They have also changed their filling procedures and moved to automated blending, which they believe has solved the issue, which they believe was due to batch contamination, as the batch VLS tested was blended and filled before automated blending was introduced. Granville also checked all batches subsequently manufactured and stated that they are all compliant according to their testing.

VLS plays a vital role

“Products that do not comply with specifications regarding low temperature properties may not provide adequate circulation,” Mike Bewsey, Chairman of VLS, commented. “This can lead to accelerated wear when equipment is started from cold and will not support fuel efficiency expectations. 

“The outcome of these cases demonstrate that VLS plays a vital role in ensuring that lubricant products are fit for purpose and can deliver what they claim.

“We thank the companies involved in these investigations for uplifting and disposing of affected products to protect end users and communicating their process changes to ensure future products are compliant.”

To find out more about VLS or the other cases currently under investigation, please visit www.ukla-vls.org.uk.

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