Members of the London East region of ACFO, the fleet managers’ association, heard that using the incorrect oil could affect service intervals and even lead to engine damage.
But fleet managers said they had real trouble understanding which oil to use and called for a ‘plain English’ campaign to make it easier to understand packaging.
Suggestions that manufacturers put a sticker on the bonnet were rejected as trials showed the sticker came off after a short time.
Manufacturers were commended for putting a litre of free oil in the boot of new cars, but some drivers did not realise it was there because no-one had told them at handover.
Jonathon Garton, general manager of Total Lubricants, told Fleet NewsNet that a plain English guide to engine oils would not make much difference because it was already as clear as possible.
He said: ‘The vehicle handbook says exactly which oil to use. The labels refer to the basic product and the EU standards it meets, such as 10W/40 A3B3, It is a high-tech product and you have different oil technology for different types of engine. You just can’t dumb it down.’
The matter was also discussed at a meeting of ACFO North East.
One member said he had heard a suggestion that drivers should not fill up with oil themselves, out of duty of care concerns. Drivers could burn themselves on a hot engine, he said.
Another commented: ‘Drivers will not take care of a leased vehicle in the way that they would their own. People will pick up a bottle and put it in the car. They don’t bother to check the code or look in the handbook.’