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Old 14-05-2016   #1
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If your car is in warranty...important!

Hello all,

Just a cautionary bit of advice for you. As some of you may have seen me mention, I am a lubricant research engineer. Basically I work for a worldwide corperation, testing both our current and future lubricants against manufacturer's specifications and comparing out products to the competition on paper, but also in lab and real world conditions.

My sister has decided to sell her Panda and asked me to go over the service history, paperwork and invoices with her, in which I found that the dealer group she uses (which I think is the largest in the country) has been filling her car with Shell Helix Ultra each time it has been serviced.

First of all, I'm not slating this product, it is a quality engine oil. However it does not meet 9.55535-S2, nor does it fit ACEA C3, which is the required spec for factory and service fill for the 500, panda and most of the fiat range, regardless of 1.2 or twinair.

I have done a little digging and contacted multiple dealers within the chain who all said that oil is what they use as service fill if your car is taken in. Seems to be a company wide thing. I also contacted Fiat UK who stated very very clearly that if engine damage occurs which is in any way attributable to the oil used, the warranty is invalidated due to the use of oils not fitting the fiat technical standard.

Basically the short and curly of the situation is check your service invoices now and in future. Only one version of Helix Ultra fits this standard which is AT-L, regardless of professional or over the counter versions and none of the dealers I spoke to (11 of them) use this version. Even if they do, it is not a Fiat approved oil, shell just says it meets the standard. I know, I've done testing on the stuff! And If your dealer is filling with these products, question it.

Sorry if this seems a bit OTT but consider the cost if your engine goes bang or suffers a fault and Fiat Technical requests a oil sample - which they often do and then find the oil doesn't satisfy the spec. That bill is now on you and so are any in future. Bye bye warranty!

The only oils to my awareness that fit the specifications and have been tested and certified to do so are Castrol Edge titanium and Petronas Selenia in multiple guises, both have it in black and white on the bottles of the relevant oil that they meet and exceed these specs, and have the technical specifications numbers on the label. If they do not, they are old stock or a different grade. Both are certified as service fill and the Selenia is the factory fill for our vehicles.

It's deeply frustrating to think that lot of us pay a fair chunk of money for our cars to be looked after by the main dealer, and if I found they put my warranty and my engine, EGR, Sensors and cat at risk by using the wrong grade of oil, there is a fair chance I would be down there with a pickaxe handle 😐
If we are taking them out of the dealer network and into indepenants or are out of warranty, that's a different story where lack of info or bulletins can come into it. I don't expect it from a franchised dealer who charge a fair wedge for the privilege of using them.

Also: The other Shell Helix oil that 'fits' the required specification is Helix HX7 ECT. However this is not a fully synthetic oil as fiat/alfa states is required, it's is semi synthetic, and while it is stated that this oil attains the requirements of ACEA C3 and 9.55535-S2 it has not been approved or tested by fiat and only fits the spec on paper. Also Castrol Magnatec C3 claims to meet the spec but neither Castrol nor Fiat can confirm that it is certified and tested to do so. Minefield out there!
Thanks deeyup, MickG, Super Uwe, Panda 4x4 TA Antarctica thanked for this post
Likes The Panda Nut, silabala, RaymoTho liked this post
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Old 14-05-2016   #2
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Re: If your car is in warranty...important!

So while Fiat only specify an oil made by one of their companies, they force you to buy Fiat products.
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Old 14-05-2016   #3
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Re: If your car is in warranty...important!

Thank you for this - it seems shocking that dealers may be using the wrong products in order to save a few quid, yet charge the customer premium pricing. You hope that by sticking with the dealer network, you are assured of better service than this. I think I'll take a look at what's listed on my service receipts.

What attributes (in layman's terms) do the approved oils provide that is lacking in the grades typically used by some of the dealers?

Thanks for the heads up!
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Old 14-05-2016   #4
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Re: If your car is in warranty...important!

Great post and sadly a depressing tale.

I have used three Fiat dealers in the past - Griffin Mill, Roundswell (no longer Fiat) and W Sanders - and all three have specified on their invoices that Selenia was used. I think Vospers also have used Selenia on my wife's car but not 100% sure it is itemised.

I just buy the correct Selenia oil from Shop4Parts and get my local garage to service my car these days. Vospers isn't an option as we have a personal issue with them (will never go near them again!). And sadly W Sanders is just too far away (but not ruled them out completely).

Tell you what though, if my car had a serious fault related to the wrong oil when under warranty and Fiat tried to wriggle out of it, I'd be onto them big time!
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Old 14-05-2016   #5
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Re: If your car is in warranty...important!

Quote Originally Posted by Panda 4x4 TA Antarctica View Post
Thank you for this - it seems shocking that dealers may be using the wrong products in order to save a few quid, yet charge the customer premium pricing. You hope that by sticking with the dealer network, you are assured of better service than this. I think I'll take a look at what's listed on my service receipts.

What attributes (in layman's terms) do the approved oils provide that is lacking in the grades typically used by some of the dealers?

Thanks for the heads up!
Well the spec that fiat requests has two parts. First of all it is ACEA C3, this certification shows that the oil has a low ash & sulphur and medium zinc content - these components and trace elements in the oil can wreak absolute havoc with Diesel DPF'S and Multiway Catalyst systems and associated sensors in petrol and diesel models. This spec also denotes the the oil has extended drain intervals, so stays in grade for a minimum of 15k in standard conditions. Finally with this it also passed wear and sludge handing tests over and above A/B graded oils

Next the Fiat Technical Bulletin number:

This is where is it gets a little more grey. When any manufacturer tests and certificates a oil, like MB 221.9 etc, that oil is now confirmed to meet the minimum lubricity, emissions protection, stability and sludge requirements that the car manufacturers require.

However as I mentioned before, only very few oils have actually passed this testing program, and in order to sell more products some other oil makers may say 'our product satisfies the spec of ...... or out product meets the requirements of .......' . This is a nasty trick as this product is not certified to that standard, nor has it been confirmed to perform as needed.

Think of it like spark plugs. If a OE plug breaks and the tip drops into the cylinder, then because the manufacturer approves it's use, your ok. But if a 'OE Matching' plug did the same, as the manufacturer has not tested it or confirmed it's suitability for the vehicle regardless of it is as good or superior to the OE plug, your on your own.

The oil standards are even more strict. With parts, the Block exemption rules protect you, as long as parts match oe quality, they will not affect your warranty. With oils there is no equivalent ruling. If a oil that doesn't comply with the exact spec causes damage, wear or failure, they have full right to invalidate your warranty.
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Old 14-05-2016   #6
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Re: If your car is in warranty...important!

Quote Originally Posted by Super Uwe View Post
Great post and sadly a depressing tale.

I have used three Fiat dealers in the past - Griffin Mill, Roundswell (no longer Fiat) and W Sanders - and all three have specified on their invoices that Selenia was used. I think Vospers also have used Selenia on my wife's car but not 100% sure it is itemised.

I just buy the correct Selenia oil from Shop4Parts and get my local garage to service my car these days. Vospers isn't an option as we have a personal issue with them (will never go near them again!). And sadly W Sanders is just too far away (but not ruled them out completely).

Tell you what though, if my car had a serious fault related to the wrong oil when under warranty and Fiat tried to wriggle out of it, I'd be onto them big time!

I don't trust the invoice either. Several years ago with a Renault 21 Turbo and main dealer I was charged for Elf fully synthetic, specficallly stated on the invoice. They mentioned charging for a round number and said the can with th balnce was in the boot. On checking the boot a couple of days later I found a can of Shell non synthetic of the wrong viscosity. The garage had a filling station that sold it for a 1/3 of what hey charged me. I made them change the oil and filter, using the correct oil and fully refund the cost of the whole service. With hindsight I should have reported them to trading standards and got them prosecuted for fraud, which is what it was.
I've also had a Porsche main dealer put Mobil One zero weight oil in a classic turbo charged car. It promptly laid an impressive smoke screen when the turbo was hot due to clearances in the KKK turbo. Mobil do a special version for older cars.

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Old 14-05-2016   #7
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Re: If your car is in warranty...important!

I phoned my dealer to ask what oil i have to put in my TwinAir turbo engine.
They told me they use ELF 5W40 MC3.
I believe "ELF = TOTAL Oil" so it would mean i need something like this.

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Old 14-05-2016   #8
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Re: If your car is in warranty...important!

Interesting, I'll look at the spec sheet on etoca (which is our database)
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Old 14-05-2016   #9
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Re: If your car is in warranty...important!

Well that was a quick search! Brought up that is meets spec (based on oil manufacturer claim) but not certified.
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Old 14-05-2016   #10
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Re: If your car is in warranty...important!

When i google for "ELF" 5W40 these come up for example, but i don't see any MC3



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Old 14-05-2016   #11
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Re: If your car is in warranty...important!

Worst I've heard of so far was a Fiat approved workshop that uses Shell Helix HX7 10w40. That isn't even fully synthetic, is the wrong grade and isn't even C3 rated, have to say I was a little horrified.

Simple problem that we have here is wording. Fiat says oils that are approved are the only ones that should be used and if not the onus is on you. When you look at oil spec sheets you will notice:

Specifications: Approval, certified and official are the big buzzwords of good. These mean the oil is 100% going to fit the required standard. These are type approved.

HOWEVER: most have type approvals for whichever brands, then you may see the terms: meets the requirements of, Specification level, exceeds the spec etc. These mean the oil had not been type approved and then the waters get very grey.

The dealer filling the car with a incorrect oil and 2 years down the line the EGR valve packs in and the cat fails and your staring at a bill with plenty of zeros in it. The dealer says they used oil that fits spec, fiat takes a sample (which they do more than you may imagine) and finds incorrect oil in the engine. They refused to pay for the work and invalidate the warranty. Where does that leave you, the dealer could say they didn't do it and you must have, you can't prove either way and your stuck. Fighting big business is hard work when they always have a line of defense that blames everyone else.
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Old 14-05-2016   #12
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Re: If your car is in warranty...important!

Quote Originally Posted by The Pretender View Post
When i google for "ELF" 5W40 these come up for example, but i don't see any MC3



Basically Elf and Total merged a fair few years ago. While they both maintain separate branding, a lot of trade bulk products are sold under one brand but sold to consumers under another. This is the case for this one. The oil they say they use is Elf INEO MC3 Dexos 2, also sold under the Total name with the same specifications.

This is best termed as as AIO oil. One that is type approved for one or two major specs but has been lightly tweaked to broadly meet the specs of others. Typical trade oil in that respect.
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Old 14-05-2016   #13
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Re: If your car is in warranty...important!

Quote Originally Posted by Alexiloki View Post
Basically Elf and Total merged a fair few years ago. While they both maintain separate branding, a lot of trade bulk products are sold under one brand but sold to consumers under another. This is the case for this one. The oil they say they use is Elf INEO MC3 Dexos 2, also sold under the Total name with the same specifications.

This is best termed as as AIO oil. One that is type approved for one or two major specs but has been lightly tweaked to broadly meet the specs of others. Typical trade oil in that respect.
So the "Total Quartz INEO MC3 5W40 Dexos2" above is save to use in the TA turbo. ??
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Old 14-05-2016   #14
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Re: If your car is in warranty...important!

Well based on specs it's difficult to say. As it isn't type approved I can't tell you the risk. But as we know there have been some failures in the twin air and they are sensitive to oil type so as the old saying goes "caveat emptor"

I'd be insisting they used the official selenia even if I had to supply it myself.
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Old 15-05-2016   #15
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Re: If your car is in warranty...important!

Quote Originally Posted by Alexiloki View Post
Well based on specs it's difficult to say. As it isn't type approved I can't tell you the risk. But as we know there have been some failures in the twin air and they are sensitive to oil type so as the old saying goes "caveat emptor"

I'd be insisting they used the official selenia even if I had to supply it myself.
So this one. ??

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