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What do ACEA and API stand for?

ACEA is the acronym for Association des Constructeurs Européens d'Automobiles - the association of European automobile constructors - which includes all the major European passenger car, light commercial and truck manufacturers, plus Toyota. As a body, ACEA sets the agreed performance/quality classifications – known as ‘sequences’ – for engine oils used in European manufactured vehicles.

API stands for the American Petroleum Institute, which also sets its own agreed performance/quality classifications for engine oils. Because they were designed around the needs of slower revving, more lightly stressed American engines, API oils conform to less demanding performance parameters than ACEA oils. Although Comma continues to show API compliances on its product labelling and cataloguing, you should always be guided by the higher ACEA classifications for servicing European manufactured vehicles.

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Why are there now so many different fully and semi synthetic oils? It’s all getting a bit confusing.

As is so often the case, the finger of blame points firmly to the vehicle manufacturers, who are overlaying the established ACEA classifications with their own, engine-specific oil formulations – VW 507 00 and MB 229.31 are good examples - and making their use in the servicing aftermarket a warranty critical condition. It means, for example, that Comma has to include no fewer than five different 5w-30 oils in our Performance Motor Oils range to accommodate the separate requirements of VW, BMW, Mercedes Benz, GM/Opel, Ford and Citroen/Peugeot.

As this trend continues, we’ll probably have to add even more manufacturer-specific 5w-30s to our portfolio to keep you covered for working on vehicles under the provisions of EU Block Exemption. In the meantime, you can cut through the confusion and be certain of selecting the right oil for any model by using our unrivalled applications data online at the Comma website or in the hard copy Workshop Application Guide & Catalogue which we supply free to every Professional Partner member and independent Comma distributor.

What do the ACEA oil classifications ‘A’, ‘B’ & ‘C’ mean?

The ‘A’ classification indicates oil that is suitable for gasoline (petrol) engines. ‘B’ classification oils are suitable for diesel engines. Oils with the ‘C1/2/3’ classifications are ‘catalyst compatible’ and have been specially developed to provide enhanced protection for the latest 3-way catalytic converters (CATs) and diesel particulate filters (DPFs). Ten of the thirteen oils in the Comma Performance Motor Oils range have both ACEA ‘A’ and ‘B’ classifications; three have ‘B’ classification only, and three have ‘A’, ‘B’ and ‘C’.

Note: ‘C1/2/3’ classification oils are more commonly referred to as ‘reduced SAPS’ or ‘low SAPS’, because they have been specially formulated with low levels of Sulphated Ash, Phosphorus and Sulphur, all of which can do very expensive damage to CATs and DPFs. This class of oil absolutely must be used where specified. To remove any confusion, simply use one of Comma’s application guides – Electronic or printed.

What do the API ‘S’ & ‘C’ oil classifications mean?

‘S’ indicates suitability for gasoline (petrol) engines and ‘C’ for diesel engines, but remember that API classifications are developed around the characteristics of American engines and therefore less suitable than ACEA oils which have been specially developed for more highly stressed, higher specific output European engines.

What is BASF Glysantin®?

First patented by BASF in 1929 and constantly adapted to the latest vehicle requirements ever since, Glysantin® is Europe’s best-selling advanced coolant, and is specified as ‘original fill’ for over 50% of all new vehicles across Europe. Its leading edge technology is licensed exclusively to Comma for the UK aftermarket.

Is it really necessary to change brake fluid every two years?

It’s what brake manufacturers and most vehicle manufacturers recommend, and given the safety-critical nature of the product, it is obviously good practice, both for the protection of your customers and their vehicles and the preservation of your good reputation. Amazingly, brake fluid condition doesn’t form part of the annual VOSA test, yet independent research sponsored by Comma revealed that over half the 700+ cars tested across the UK needed a brake fluid change: nearly a third of them had brake fluid that was dangerously contaminated and could result in potentially lethal brake failure.

There’s no simpler or quicker procedure than testing the condition of brake fluid with a temperature tester. If you make testing a routine part of every service, you’ll not only be looking after your customers safety, you’ll also find yourself profitably changing an awful lot of brake fluid.