What is a Technical Data Sheet?
“Choosing the right engine oil for your car or truck can be extremely difficult.” This is probably an understatement as if you go into any motor factors or car parts store, more than likely you will see an array of different products and grades, all at varying degrees of pricing. In our eBook, A Guide to Engine Oils we discussed the many factors that go into creating an engine oil and how important this information is in choosing a product. One area that we have not looked at in any great detail is a technical data sheet.
Many of you will have done your due diligence before entering a store and researched engine oil online. For example, on our website, if you choose any of the products that we sell, you will see a brief description and an area to look at the technical datasheet. Just like looking at the oils on a shop shelf, this can also seem a bit complicated as there is a lot of different terminologies, specifications and figures that look confusing at first glance.
For this episode of lubricants 101 we are going to take a look at the technical data sheet of one of our most popular products, Total Quartz Ineo First 0W-30. The majority of oil manufacturers follow the same structure for their data sheets meaning that by the end of this article you will have all the information you need to understand, from the various terminology to the figures that these important documents contain.
Company & Product Name
All data sheets, no matter the brand, will have a company logo at the top; in this case the Total logo is to the far right. There are a number of other logos beside it that we will explain further down. Underneath the logo, in bold writing, we will find the engine oils name, Total Quartz Ineo First 0W-30. So, what’s in a name? Firstly, it lets you know what product brand you are looking at. For example, Total has a number of ranges including the Total Quartz 7000 and 9000 ranges which are suitable for different vehicles and specifications. Another key point is the numbers that come after the name (0W-30). This is the viscosity of the oil, an important figure that we will also discuss further down. For an in-depth look at viscosity try our recent post “The Importance of Viscosity”.
This box gives you a summary of all the essential information that you need when choosing an engine oil. There are several key sections in this area, with different oils highlighting different information. The majority of engine oil technical data sheets key data will be broken down into the following:
Type of Vehicle
This section is pretty much what it says on the tin; it highlights what type of vehicle this oil is used in. If we look at the Ineo First data sheet it highlights “Light Vehicle Range”. This means that this oil is used in cars and other light vehicles such as vans if applicable through the specifications
Most diesel engine oils carry a higher specification rating than petrol engine oils and vehicle manufacturers often specify if a diesel engine oil can be used in a petrol motor. This does not work in the reverse, petrol only engine oils cannot be used in diesel engines. Some engine oils carry both petrol and diesel specifications so be sure to check your owners manual to see what type you need.
This next section in key data incorporates the engine oil type and a quick summary of how it can be used and some aspects of its composition. We will group these together under engine oil type as each section is connected to the other:
- Oil Brand: Just under the vehicle type you can see 4 different coloured boxes. These describe the sub-brand of the oil, this product categorised as Ineo which is the Total “5 Star” brand.
- Engine Oil Type: This highlights the engine type of the vehicle. Here we see that Total Quartz Ineo 0W-30 can be used in both petrol and diesel engines.
- Viscosity: In our previous posts, we have highlighted the importance of viscosity. It is an engine oils resistance to flow. In this case we can see that this oil is a 0W-30 grade.
- Oil Formulation: Here we see that this oil is a synthetic oil. Engine Oils come in 3 forms: mineral, semi-synthetic and synthetic. To find out more about these 3 key types, read our post “synthetic vs mineral engine oils”.
- Oil Traits: Total Quartz Ineo 0W-30 is a fuel economy and low SAPS engine oil. What does this mean? Under the right conditions it can provide fuel savings reducing fuel spend for the user. Low SAPS highlight that this oil has a low sulphated ash, phosphorus and sulphur content.
International standards or specifications are extremely important as they indicate whether engine oils have passed the latest tests set out by international bodies. The 2 most important of these are the ACEA (European Automobile Manufacturers Association) and API (American Petroleum Institute). Total Quartz Ineo First 0W-30 is classified as an ACEA C1 highlighting it as a low SAPS engine oil.
On various data sheets you will see both recommended for and manufacturer approvals. Just like with international standards, manufacturers put oils through vigorous testing to ensure that they are of both the right specification and perform the essential applications that their vehicle requires. Oil manufacturers can then pay a fee to have their oils registered as approved by the manufacturer or leave the oil as recommended. Vehicles that are inside their warranty period will need to use oils that are approved so as not to void their warranty.
So now we have finished looking at a summary of the key data, we move on to the next section which is description. In this section, we get a brief summary of the engine oil. The first paragraph highlights some of the key stresses that engines face on a daily basis including, operating temperatures and friction.
The next paragraph highlights the key performance features that the performance benefits the oil pertains to, in this case anti-oxidation and sludge protection. You will also see in red ART (Age Resistance Technology), a key technology that Total utilises within the Quartz range of engine oils.
One of the most important sections on the data sheet, application explains in-depth how the engine oil is used. In the key data section, we talked about OEM approvals and “recommended for” statements. This section looks at this even further. We can see that Total Quartz Ineo First 0W-30 is a first fill product for both Peugeot and Citroen. We also find some of the key technologies that the oil has been formulated with and also what type of vehicle the oil is best suited for. Here we see that this oil is best used in the most recent PSA (Peugeot and Citroen) engines and particularly suits for stop-start and hybrid engines and has features such as pollution control technology, low SAP’s technology and fuel economy system.
At this stage, you have now read the key data and applications and understand that this engine oil is the one best suited for your vehicle. But there are a number of oils that also claim this, including numerous competitor brands so why is this one the most suitable? Other than the fact that this is an approved product, we can also see the key customer benefits that this engine oil contains. If we look at Total Quartz Ineo First 0W-30, we see benefits such as easier cold starts, fuel economy and reduced environmental impact. These benefits will differ on engine oils depending on their maker, formulation, and performance requirements. Always look at this section to see what other key benefits there are to your oil as they could be a key difference-maker in your choice.
This is where a technical data sheet gets tricky. Engine oils are put under a huge amount of stress inside a vehicle including excess temperatures, pressure and other adverse conditions. To ensure an engine oil is fit for purpose, it must undergo a number of rigorous tests to ensure that your engine is continuously protected. We will now go through the key characteristics of Total Quartz Ineo First 0W-30.
A testing to identify the viscosity grade of the engine oil. In this case the grade is 0W-30
Density at 15°C
This describes the volume weight on an oil at 15°C and is measured in kilogram per cubic metre. The density of the lubricant is impacted by a number of factors including the quality, viscosity and even the additives used in the formulation.
Kinematic viscosity at 40°C and 100°C
Kinematic viscosity is a measure of resistance to flow against gravitational forces. It is measured by taking the time it takes for the oil to pass through a capillary under gravitational forces. This test is performed at 40°C and 100°C
This describes the tendency of the oil to thin as the temperature rises. The more the oil thins the smaller the viscosity index. Some oils use additives called viscosity index improvers to increase protection from friction, even as the oil thins.
As the temperature falls, oil begins to thicken and will stop flowing entirely. This temperature is called the pour point
OC Flash Point
The flash point test is used to indicate the flammability of a lubricant. As the lubricant heats up, flammable gases are vaporised so much that they flame up. The temperature that this occurs at id the flash point.
Recommendations for Use
This section of the oil highlights basic guidelines that should be followed in relation to maintenance and storage. For example, it is always extremely important that you read your owner’s manual before choosing an engine oil and that changes are carried out to the manufacturer’s instructions. Basic storage temperatures are highlighted as well as packaging protection. All these recommendations help to ensure that the oil is kept in the best possible condition before use.
Health, Safety and the Environment
Technical data sheets are extremely important documents that will always be available to you. Another extremely important document is a safety data sheet. This document is prepared by the manufacturer and describes the various physical and chemical properties while also highlighting health hazards, precautions and safety measures.
This section on the technical data sheet helps to highlight how you can obtain the safety data sheet and where it can be downloaded.
Edition and Address
A number of changes or alternations can occur with engine oils. For example, the formulation may change, an approval may be gained/lost or there may even be a slight change to the name. When this occurs the technical data sheet must be updated. We can see on the technical datasheet for Total Quartz Ineo First 0W-30 that the data sheet was last updated on the 01/2019. Always ensure that you are using the most up to date data sheet for the product to ensure that there has been no changes or alterations to the formulation.
You will also find the address of the manufacturer in this section if it is required in some manner.
Technical data sheets can be a tricky but necessary document in ensuring that you are using the right oil. Although it can be quite heavy in information, the information contained is extremely important as it will help you pinpoint the exact engine oil you need for your vehicle. By breaking it down into groups you will be able to see which data is the most relevant to your vehicle and help you speed up your decision-making progress.
The right lubricant is essential in ensuring the performance and protection of your vehicle. To help make this choice easier, Finol has developed to go to oil finder application on the market, Which Oil. Launched in April of 2019, the new and improved Which Oil lubricant advisor provides many useful feature advancements, including:
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