Price does not always determine engine oil quality

New entrant to SA oil market puts its oil where its mouth is

Paying more for an engine oil does not necessarily mean you are getting a superior product. Similarly, if you pay less for a lubricant, it doesn’t always mean you are buying a lower-grade oil, says Petrocam Lubricants CFO Ridwan Gany.

The implications for the average South African driver are huge, as are the savings over the long-term, especially among those who operate repair centres, run fleets or own taxi operations could be profound, says Gany.

Petrocam Lubricants is a division of Petrocam Trading, an Africa-based oil company that controls its entire supply chain from refinery to end-product. Petrocam has operations in five African countries – including petrol stations in West Africa and an office in Europe. 

“We are bringing this product to the South African market to give trade and consumers more variety. Ultimately, more variety means that people are able to choose products that are best suited to their unique needs and contexts, and there are many consumers who are price sensitive,” he explains.

The promise of high-grade oil at a significantly reduced price is a big one, and not one that Petrocam Lubricants takes slightly, says Gany. “Obviously we have commissioned research into our products versus various established brands that are available locally and the results are very encouraging and validate what we have known all along. We are able to bring this high-grade quality at a competitive price because we control our supply chain.”

It would come as no surprise that these claims have been met with suspicion in some quarters of the market. In order to put skin in the game, so to speak, Gany says Petrocam Lubricants decided to publicly test the mettle of its products.

“We put our oils into racing cars, where engines are pushed to their absolute limits and the lubricants are passed in the ultimate pressure-cooker test,” says Gany.

ICE Motorsports CEO, Prean Govender, says “when operating on the margins of what an engine is capable of delivering, one cannot afford to treat oil as an afterthought, this is why we use Petrocam Lubricants.”

According to Govender, just like other parts of a vehicle, a subpar engine oil cannot be expected to deliver the performance expected of it in the pressure cooker environment of motorsport. 

“For the layman, an oil is an oil. But as a racing team committed to delivering the best race car maintenance and track performance possible, we cannot afford to take any risks when it comes to the safety of the engines we work on. Considering that some of these performance engines cost huge sums of money, damaging these commodities is not an option,” says Govender.

“Stressing the components requires an oil that can deliver more than basic protection. For example, we have performance packages available where we tune a 210kW engine to 1 000kW. This puts massive pressure on the engine and if the oil is not doing its job, things will shut down and damage is inevitable,” he says. “We never compromise on using quality lubricants.”

Gany adds: “Not many of us will ever push our engines to those limits, but high-performance racing provides the perfect environment to test the performance of a product. Ultimately, the point is that if someone is price sensitive, they don’t have to compromise on quality.”

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