Our experts answers to your most commonly asked questions

Can I add additives in oil ?

The components of our oils have been proportioned to reach an optimum result. Add an additive may create unecessary blends and even harmful. Certain manufacturers even forbid to inorporate an additive in the oil.

Can I put in my gear-box the same oil as in my engine ?

The answer to this question depends on the technology used. Although some older vehicles allow the same lubricant to be used for both the engine and the gearbox, new vehicles require different products for each.
Follow the manufacturer's recommendations.

Can I use diesel engine oil in a petrol engine, and vice versa ?

Petrol and diesel engines have different lubrication requirements. During development, lubricants undergo a number of tests, some common to diesel and petrol engines and others specific to one or the other type, that categorize their performances. At the end of this process, they are awarded an API or ACEA/CCMC compliance standard. These specifications characterize the acceptable functioning of the lubricant in each type of petrol or diesel engine. Lubricants for four-stroke engines usually comply with both petrol and diesel specifications. For example, an API SJ/CF lubricant meets petrol specification SJ and diesel specification CF. But this does not necessarily mean that it will perform in the same way in both petrol and diesel engines. This is why Elf has developed specialized ranges, optimized either for petrol or for diesel.

Can I mix two different types of oil ?

Lubricants are always optimized to meet the requirements of international classifications (API, ACEA). However, there are many ways of formulating a specific type of lubricant. Mixing two oils that have equivalent properties will not pose a problem, but final performance cannot be guaranteed. All market oils (petrol engine or diesel, mineral or synthetic) are mixable. However, a blending of two oil qualities lower the superior quality.

Can I use car engine oil in my motorcycle ?

No, because motorcycle four-stroke engines do not operate under the same conditions as those of cars (higher engine rpm and temperature). The engine lubricant can also be used to lubricate the gearbox and the clutch, which requires a formula with EXTREME-PRESSURE ADDITIVES. On the other hand, passenger vehicle lubricants contain DETERGENT ADDITIVES with a high ash content. In motorcycle engines, these cause deposits to form on the valve train and the piston crowns, which can result in valve burning or piston perforation.

What causes oil pressure to drop ?

During normal vehicle operation, oil is vital to ensures leak tightness between the combustion chamber and the crankcase. The oil pressure indicator shows how well this is being done.

An unusual drop in oil pressure can result from either lower engine oil viscosity due to dilution by fuel (injector problem or use at low load) ; too little oil in the lubrication system (due to an oil leak, excess oil consumption, or failure of the oil circulation pump) ; or even mechanical part wear.

Does the oil have to be topped up ?

The engine oil level should be checked regularly to prevent incidents. A small amount of the oil that circulates in the engine is always burnt (an engine in good condition consumes between 0.2 and 0.5 liters of oil every 1,000 kilometers), but successive top-ups are no substitute for an oil change.

Accordingly, it is natural that an engine consumes a small amount of oil, which can be offset by top-ups between oil changes; however, excessive need for top-ups can be an indication of mechanical problems (leaks, etc).

What does a lubricant do ?

Any vehicle owner knows that lubricants are vital to the correct operation of your engine :

  • cooling engine hot spots and moving parts,
  • ensuring that engine parts remain clean
  • ensuring leak tightness between engine parts,
  • protecting the inner surfaces of the engine against corrosion,

Additives bring their help, with the detergent and dispersant addives, and the additives against corrosion.

How can you judge lubricant performance ?

Product labels provide a considerable amount of information about lubricant performance.

More about : How to read the label on a drum

What are the advantages of a quality oil ?

A good quality oil provides motorists with a number of benefits :

  • easier cold start and reduced wear (20 to 30% of engine wear occurs between startup and the time the engine reaches optimal temperature),
  • longer engine life,
  • fuel savings as a result of reduced friction of moving parts and better engine performance.

What is the advantage of keeping up with the new technologies ?

In the area of technology, engine lubricants must consistently evolve toward higher performance levels, linked to engine advances, use, manufacturer requirements, and requirements of users and law-makers :

  • more stringent environmental requirements,
  • on going rise in engine power,
  • lower oil crankcase capacities,
  • longer periods between oil changes.

Conditions of operation also involve :

  • larger highway networks and a higher annual average of kilometers traveled,
  • deterioration of city driving conditions.

Why choose a synthetic oil ?

Semi-synthetic and synthetic oils are made from non-conventional bases using sophisticated chemical processes which confer special properties to the finished product. First, the high level of viscosity of the base oils used gives the finished lubricant remarkably stable viscosity whatever the temperature. This property is one of its major advantages over mineral oils, made from conventional bases which require a greater number of additives in order to improve viscosity. The stability of lubrication in all temperatures guarantees optimum efficacy in the cold starting phase which is particularly demanding on the engine ? as well as under conditions of extreme heat. Synthetic-based lubricants show greater resistance to oxidation, which gives them longer effective life thus guaranteeing longer engine life. The use of non-conventional bases, finally, permits the elaboration of more fluid lubricants, without being more volatile; resulting in a reduction of oil consumption.

Therefore, choosing a synthetic based oil is the technologically advance choice, for greater efficacy, longevity and controlled oil consumption.

What are the advantages of a multigrade oil ?

A multigrade oil is one whose proper

  • when the vehicle is not being used (for several hours), the engine oil sinks in the crankcase so that, on starting, it takes a certain amount of time (a few microseconds) to again reach all parts of the engine that need to be lubricated. Since a multigrade oil is more fluid at low temperatures, it reaches the various engine components more quickly than a monograde oil, thereby reducing wear on starting.
  • Multigrade oil allow "saving fuel" around 1.5% to 3% then monograde oil

Multigrade oils provide better engine protection at low and high temperatures than monograde oils, in that they maintain optimum viscosity over the engine operating temperature range.

Which oil should we use in turbo compressed vehicles ?

In order to fulfil the lubrication and shaft cooling needs of the turbo-compressor, oil must answer to very strict criteria. The shaft reaches, a very high temperature, due to the proximity of the exhaust gasses, a very high temperature. Oil must lubricate the shaft continuously otherwise the high temperatures would permanently damage it and the temperature would then very rapidly reach very high levels.

These conditions mean the oil has to offer considerable detergent property, an important resistance to oxidisation and deposit formation, but especially very high a thermic stability. The use of SYNTHETIC oils is therefore the most recommended solution in these conditions. Turbo-compressors are characteristic of the diesel engines, as it is very easy for petrol engines to reach the same power level by other means, such as electronic injection, cylinder head multi-valves, etc.

Are all oils adapted to vehicles equipped with a catalytic converter ?

The reply is clear and net: NO.

This challenge has been met by the CATALYTIC CONVERTER, whose role is to complete the combustion of the exhaust gas just before they escape into the atmosphere. In order to respect the environment oils must offer a high lubrication property, better detergent and dispersant properties as well as a low sulphur and phosphorous content. These properties are essential for oils that will be used in vehicles equipped with catalytic converters. The use of a non adapted oil can damage the catalytic converter. Synthetic lubricants are highly recommended because of the intrinsic properties of their base.

Why change the oil ?

The oil change is an essential operation in maintaining a vehicle in top condition :

  • Because lubricants collect particles of internal and external pollution (carbonic matter, particles of worn metal, ?)
  • Because an oil?s efficacy diminishes because of : - dilution by water and fuel, - oxidation, - the consumption of additives, - shearing

How often should oil be changed ?

  • At least once a year
  • The frequency recommended by the manufacturer may be modified according to: - The lubricant used, - Vehicle use (country, city, highway), - Thermal and mechanical requirements.
  • Never drive with an oil level below the minimum mark on the dipstick Below this mark there is not enough oil, thus causing more rapid circulation of the fluid and accelerated wear on the oil.
  • It is recommended to check the level regularly every 1,000 km and especially before a long trip.

Can you chose another viscosity grade when changing oil ?

Yes, you have to adjust the viscosity according to the conditions of the vehicle's usage, the environment and the climatic conditions.

What type of oil packaging should I choose ?

If you carry out your own oil change, you will need a 5-litre container, given that the average capacity of the sump is 4.5 litres.

If you are topping up between oil changes, a 1 litre container will suffice: it is practical, easy to use and cheaper.

Can I stock oil ? Will it deteriorate ?

Please refer to our 'Guide to Shelf Life' section.


Fuel Economy Lubricants

Do Fuel Economy oils maintain their Fuel Economy character throughout the oil change interval?

  • Generally speaking, Fuel Economy oils undergo the same stresses as conventional oils and therefore maintain their Fuel Economy capability up to the next oil change. Where light vehicles are concerned, TOTAL Lubrifiants has chosen to use components least sensitive to alteration in time due to the effects of Fuel Economy oil.

Is there not a risk of losing the constructor's warranty in case of a problem occurring on a vehicle when using a Fuel Economy oil?

  • There is no problem since TOTAL Fuel Economy oils are approved by constructors and their levels of performance are defined by the same constructors. The approvals shown on the cans ensure the user of a warranty on all points, identical to that offered for conventional oils of the same level of approval.

Are Fuel Economy oils compatible with high sulphur level fuels?

  • There is no problem as the fuel does not normally come into contact with the oil. Fuel Economy oils are designed in such a way that their Total Base Number (TBN) is capable if necessary of neutralising acid products generated by the combustion of fuels containing sulphur. Fuel Economy oils have the same TBN levels as conventional oils

 What is a Fuel Economy lubricant?

  • It is an oil which makes for fuel economies by comparison with conventional oils for the same level of performance.This property applies firstly to engine oils but also to transmission oils: gearboxes, differentials, etc.

 Are all oils of the same grade Fuel Economy?

  • The oil grade is the predominant factor when we are talking of Fuel Economy oils.Generally speaking, oils are only Fuel Economy by comparison with other superior grade oils: as a result, for an engine, a …W-30 grade oil is qualified as Fuel Economy by comparison with …W-40 ,…W-50, …W-60 grade oils, for transmissions, a 75W-80 oil is Fuel Economy in relation to an 80W-90 grade, and for a differential, a 75W-90 oil is Fuel Economy in relation to the 80W-140 or 85W-140 grades.Nevertheless, other more subtle criteria arising from the formulation also come into play (friction modifier additives, choice of base oil, knowing the reactivity between the different additives) It is for this reason that two …W-30 grade lubricants do not automatically provide the same degree of fuel economies.

Top Ups 

Why a top-up?

  • A top-up prevents premature wear on the engine,  guarantees vehicle performance and provides optimum  driving comfort.

Is it normal for my vehicle to consume oil?

  • It is normal for a vehicle to consume oil (on average 0.2 litres  per 1000 km), especially during the running-in period.  Oil consumption varies with the age, the type of vehicle and  its use (urban, open road, motorway driving).

When should the oil level be checked?

  • The oil level needs to be checked every 2000 or 3000 km  or before a long journey.

What are the risks if the oil level is too low?

  • There is a risk of premature wear on your engine and even  a risk of damaging the engine. If there is no oil, engine  breakdown occurs almost instantly.

What must I do if my dipstick shows an oil level which is  too high?

  • The maximum level shown by the dipstick must never be exceeded,  this can damage the engine. If this happens, make  an appointment with your workshop to lower the oil level.

Can a different oil be used for a top-up?

  • It is preferable to use oils of the same viscosity and which  meet the car manufacturer's specifi cation, particularly for  vehicles fitted with a post-treatment system, in order to  obtain optimum performance.

What does excessive oil consumption mean?

  • An oil consumption of over 0.5 litres per 1000 km means  there is a problem with your engine. Have your vehicle  checked by a professional as soon as possible.