Do you really know anything about car oil?

Guys, I have been a motoring journalist for over 14 years, so naturally you would think I would know all about car oil, right? Well I am a bit clueless if I am honest. Can you blame me though? I test drive new cars. For a week. It is very seldom that I have to put oil in any car I test drive. BUT that doesn’t excuse my lack of knowledge, I should have educated myself on what oil really means for a car. Thank goodness for TotalEnergies who decided to team up with me to educate, not only me, but you guys as well, on all things oil.

As Jacobus Langenhoven, Lubricants Technical Manager for TotalEnergies Marketing South Africa says that just like an athlete, you should be concerned with your car’s health and performance. Choosing the right lubricant for your car can be the difference between achieving a bronze or a gold medal.

“If you want to ensure your car is a tireless athlete, you need to look at its overall health. An athlete strives to be in optimal health, and they take care to ensure that their body receives the best sources of nutrition. But they are also concerned with performance, and using clean, efficient supplements and nutrients to go the distance,” said Langenhoven.

Much as the human body is deeply complex, so are the systems in your vehicle, and lubricants can help in keeping them protected and clean to ensure efficiency.

How does a lubricant improve performance?

Ultimately, lubricants are about protecting the surfaces inside your car’s internal systems, by creating a liquid film over parts that reduces wear and tear and extends the life of your engine. They play many roles, from controlling the friction to ensuring fuel efficiency, resisting degradation and oxidation byproducts that would otherwise damage components, preventing rust, and cooling down the systems by evacuating excess heat.

A lubricant is made up of base oils that are combined with various additives to improve performance and other critical properties.

But how do they work?

The viscosity – or thickness – of the lubricant plays a significant role. A more viscous lubricant offers a thicker film to protect your engine surfaces, but comes at a cost of increased internal friction of the lubricant itself, meaning you use more fuel. Modern lubricants can achieve thinner films that provide the same protection or even more, through the use of synthetic base oils and specialized additives. This can greatly improve fuel efficiency. Synthetic lubricants also have increased oxidation resistance, resulting in less generation of oxidation-byproducts. Effectively, the better performance and quality of your lubricant, the less likely your car’s ‘arteries’ will be damaged or have unwanted build-up of materials, which could affect its energy and fuel needs.

Synthetic lubricants are less likely to experience build-up from impurities but conversely, they are more expensive, which is a major factor for many people whose finances were impacted by the pandemic.

“Many of us want to take better care of our vehicles, which is why a lot of people who are interested in cars will choose synthetic lubricants. But a semi-synthetic is also an option, and can be a cost-effective compromise for end users. Luckily synthetic and semi-synthetic products are included in our Quartz product range. Always refer to your OEM handbook for guidance relating to the correct lubricants for your vehicle,” said Langenhoven.

Can a lubricant save me money in the long term? What about right now?

“In the long term, it is known, that the right lubricant for your vehicle will increase its longevity. Overall, there are fewer costs associated with maintenance, repairs, and less wear and tear in general,” said Langenhoven.

But even in the short term, the right lubricant can mean greater fuel efficiency if this technology forms part of a specific product, so your engine performs better and requires less energy to do so. This immediately translates into an overall reduction in your fuel costs every year, and that does add up.

“Many lubricants have been designed to improve fuel economy, and this relates to the additives that can alter the viscosity of the lubricant, meaning it is easier for your engine to function on less fuel. That’s one thing you can check for on the label of any bottle of lubricant,” he said.

So how do I find the right lubricant for my car?

“It’s something we often forget about, but the owner’s manual that comes with your vehicle usually has good recommendations for what products can be used. Often more than one viscosity grade is mentioned in manuals,” said Langenhoven.

Secondly, many car manufacturers and lubricant manufacturers, such as TotalEnergies, have technical pages on their websites or technical support teams that you can contact to help you determine the best balance for your vehicle. Certain recommendation apps have also been in development that can also help you identify the best lubricants to use.

TotalEnergies has also recently redesigned the look of several small-pack product ranges – including the Quartz product spectrum – but one of the key redesign elements was helping people understand the product they needed to use by visually using icons on the front label of the packaging.

“Any confusion on the product tier, where and when it should be used, or even the number of OEM approvals is now clearly – and cleverly – part of each bottle’s design,” said Langenhoven.

For more information check out the Quartz Lubricants range or visit the TotalEnergies’ Online Lubricants Catalogue.


You can win a fuel voucher worth R1 000! Want to know how? Follow the steps below:


STEP 1: Purchase any newly branded 500ml QUARTZ engine oil at your nearest TotalEnergies Service Station 

STEP 2: Post a picture on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter telling me what you like most about the brand-new packaging

STEP 3: Tag and follow me on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter and @TotalEnergies 

STEP 4: Use the hashtag #WhatEnginesDeserve

STEP 5: Make sure to keep your purchase receipt to ensure the validity of your entry

Check out Ts & Cs.

I’m Julz, South African motoring journalist with a passion for cars and a questionable sense of humour. I am not your average motoring journalist, and this is not your average motoring website.

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