VLS Refers Silverhook Complaints

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Industry watchdog Verification of Lubricant Standards reported recently that it has lodged complaints with United Kingdom and European Union authorities about an engine oil with what it described as inaccurate and improper performance claims.

The product is Silverhook 5W-30 Supreme Plus, marketed by London-based Silverhook. VLS, which monitors products on the market on behalf of the United Kingdom Lubricant Association, referred the case to the U.K.’s Trading Standards program and SAIL-Europe, which oversees the product compliance monitoring program of ATIEL, the Technical Association of the European Lubricants Industry.

VLS officials said it considers such practices a significant concern for the industry.

“We want to ensure we have the highest standards in Europe for lubricant manufacture, blending and marketing, and we want a level playing field for all participants so that we protect the interests of the consumer and other end users,” VLS Company Secretary David Wright said in a bulleting posted by the group.

Silverhook could not be reached for comment.

According to its bulletin, VLS received a complaint in October that marketing material for the product was erroneous in several respects. Silverhook claimed that the product met performance specifications of several automakers, including Ford, BMW and Dexos, but did not identify specific specifications. GM publishes four Dexos specs, but Silverhook did not specify which one.

VLS noted in its bulletin that VW has multiple performance specs, some of which are mutually exclusive. One VW spec, VW 502.00/505.00, has sulfated ash requirements that are mutually exclusive with industry standard ACEA C2/C3. Similarly, phosphorus limits for the same VW spec are mutually exclusive with another industry spec, API SP. VLS added that the product also carried a claim that it met Honda HTO_06, but Honda HTO_06 is a test, not a specification, the organization said, so the claim is inappropriate.

VLS said it reported its concerns to Silverhook and asked the company for clarifications on some claims and documentation for others. The company did respond, VLS said, but did not fully resolve the organization’s concerns. The organization’s Technical Review Committee revisited the case after six months and noted that Silverhook had changed some of the product literature to say, “Recommended by Silverhook for applications requiring.” The committee called that language “ambiguous at best.”

The committee concluded that material for the project still was not compliant and decided to refer the case.