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  Petronas Engine Oils Go 'SL'!  
- Thursday, July 12, 2001  By Chips  Bookmark and Share

First in Malaysia with new API classification......

[+ click to enlarge]
Syntium 1000 - fully synthetic
Syntium 1000 - fully synthetic
Syntium 800 - synthetic blend
Syntium 800 - synthetic blend
Mach 5 - premium mineral engine oil
Mach 5 - premium mineral engine oil

Since the 1930s, the service classification for engine oils set by the American Petroleum Institute (API) has been the most readily recognised standard by many motorists. Although they may not fully understand what the standard is all about technically, they have come to see it as a guide in the technological advancement of the engine’s vital fluid.

Starting from ‘SA’, the classifications have been upgraded every 6 years or so, each time imposing greater demands on oil formulations. These demands relate to pollution and environmental issues and regulatory changes, new technology in automobile engines and also consumers’ expectations of improved products as time goes by.

The API sets the standards for a series of tests that have to be passed and oil companies improve their products accordingly so as to meet or exceed the changing standards. The tests typically cover wear, sludge, varnish, oil thickening, rust, bearing corrosion and piston deposits. All oil companies must submit their products to the API for testing and validation.

The last API standard which came out in 1996 was ‘SJ’ and last year, the API notified the oil companies of impending standards for a new classification ‘SL’ which would be officially introduced in 2001. Although there has been an alphabetical sequence in most cases, on this occasion, ‘SK’ was not adopted because there is an oil company in Korea which is actually called ‘SK’! The API must have decided that they were not going to give this company free publicity by having the ‘SK’ on the packs of every oil company’s products so it was skipped.

The API announced the new ‘SL’ classification on July 1st 2001 and on the same day, our national oil corporation, Petronas, also launched its new SL-grade engine oils - the first in Malaysia with the latest API classification.

The new range consists of three premium products - Syntium 1000, Syntium 800 and Mach 5. While the Syntium name is already familiar to motorists as a fully synthetic oil (it was introduced in 1997), Petronas has now added a less expensive product to the line known as Syntium 800. This is a synthetic blend (or semi-synthetic, as it is referred to by some other companies) and offers almost similar benefits as fully synthetic oil at a lower price. This is the first time Petronas has offered a synthetic blend in its range. Mach 5 is, of course, a well-known and proven mineral-based oil.

In being upgraded to ‘SL’ (they actually exceed the API SL standards), the new Petronas oils have increased oxidation resistance, better control of deposits, prolonged life of the emission control system of the engine and improved fuel economy retention. These translate into less oil consumption in the long run and the ability of the oil to be used for a longer period. However, Petronas stresses that oil change intervals should be in accordance with what the vehicle manufacturer requires. Given that today’s oils are so good, motorists can use their own judgement as to how much longer they think the interval can be extended - especially with synthetic oils.

The SL standard also means that the engine is kept cleaner, a factor in efficient operation. With carbon being a major by-product of combustion, the ability of the new oils to keep this under control as it mixes with the oil over time is a plus point.

Like all engine oils, the ‘secret recipe’ of the new Petronas oils includes a unique package of additives to do various things inside the engine, as well as high-quality base oils. Both the additives and base oils come from several world-class suppliers but the actual formulation was entirely the work of Petronas’ own technical personnel at its R&D Centre in Bangi, Selangor. Of course, lessons learnt in its association with the Sauber F1 racing team also filtered back to the R&D centre and, where applicable, were adopted (particularly for the flagship product, Syntium 1000). Thus, in the formulation of Petronas oils, there’s a bit of F1 technology too.

All three new products, which are blended in the Petronas refinery in Malacca, have multigrade viscosities to suit a wide range of operating temperatures. Predictably, Syntium 1000 has the widest viscosity range (one of the reasons why it costs the most) from 5W to 50 (the original Syntium was 5W-40). Syntium 800 has a viscosity of 15W-50 while Mach 5 is 20W-50. The upper number, which is relevant to high operating temperatures was chosen for its suitability for all kinds of engines, especially those with hydraulic lifters. This viscosity gives sufficient ‘thickness’ to the oil for more effective lubrication at the lifter mechanisms.

At one time, only fully synthetic oils could survive the ultra-hot operating conditions of turbocharged engines. Conventional mineral-based oils were inadequate for the task and deteriorated quickly, leaving the engine parts unprotected. Not so with today’s oils which have superior high-temperature stability; the molecules will not break up when working under extreme temperatures. In meeting the SL standard, the new Petronas oils - even Mach 5 - can all be used with turbocharged engines.

Available at all Petronas stations, the new Petronas engine oils come in 4-litre as well as 1-litre packs. The 4-litre packs have the same unique, easy-to-handle design with a built-in swivel spout and smooth pouring. A strip along the side provides quick and easy determination of the level while a special seal is used to ensure that any tampering will be evident.

The 1-litre packs are a thoughtful provision because many cars with engine displacements of 2-litres require just a bit more than 4 litres of oil and if using these Petronas products, the motorist will not have to buy another 4 litre pack just for the extra half-litre needed. Most oil companies will offer 1-litre packs for their mineral oils but few are willing to do so for their fully synthetic products.

During this introductory period, Petronas is also offering premium goodies with the new oils so it’s a great time to try them out.

SYNTIUM 1000 5W-50 - RM140.00/RM38.00
SYNTIUM 800 15W-50 - RM63.00/RM19.00
MACH 5 20W-50 - RM41.00 for 4 litres
MACH 5 20W-50 - RM7.50 for 0.5 litres

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