How To Choose The Right Engine Oil For Your Car

LIQUI-MOLY-OIL-TopShot

API, ACEA, ILSAC, Long Life, SAE, JASO what does all this mean? We've got the answers. 

Let's face it—there are a lot of different engine oils on the market, and it takes a lot of research and data to decide on an oil that'll work best for your vehicle.

A simple search might force you down a rabbit hole you didn't intend on going down. Usually, this starts on your favorite forum, where people argue viciously about how their oil, which is the cheapest, works better than the other guy's exotic oil which includes ingredients like space dust, finely diced lion tongue, and the most virgin of olive oil additives. (Not really, but you get the idea.)

The research is usually much deeper than that. We get into product terminology, independent testing, manufacturer data, OEM requirements, region requirements and limitations, product composition, additive packages, modifiers, so on and so forth. Not to mention viscosity grade and oil weights. 

We've done the research for you, and have taken the guesswork out of selecting engine oils for your engine. Our recommendations are based on compatibility to OE manufacturers such as BMW, Mercedes, VW, Volvo, and Porsche. We have aligned ourselves with companies that provide quality products, which we are proud to sell, and fit with our values. By going genuine we know we meet the basic spec however going with a brand that specializes in formulation of engine oils is your best bet.

BMW:

BMW follows the Longlife naming template. BMW has the following specification motor oils LL-98, LL-01, LL-01FE LL-04, LL-12 FE, LL-14 FE+

LL-98 – Used in cars prior to 2002 (5W30)
LL-01 – Used in cars from 2002 on (5W30)(MXX and NXX generation of engines including Diesel WITHOUT Particulate Filters) Backwards compatible.
*LL-01FE – Used in the following engines (N1X, N2X, N4X, N63, N74) The FE stands for fuel economy. This spec calls for lower SAPS which helps protect engine internals. The lower the SAPS the easier the fluid flows. Ideally the oil change interval is reduced with this type of oil. Mostly used in the EU market. (Now it has entered the US market. With lower SAPS this oil loses levels of protection in favor of fuel economy and emissions)
LL-04 – Used in all diesel applications in North America due to the higher sulfur concentrations here. In Europe LL-04 oil is used in Gasoline applications due to an absence of ethanol in their fuels.
*LL-12 – Some gasoline engines require this oil along with the following Diesels (Nx7K1, Nx7U1, Nx7O1) Mostly used in the EU market. (Now this oil too has entered the US market with even lower SAPS to protect the catalyst system ... again less overall engine protection in favor of emissions and fuel economy)
LL-14+ – Used in N20 and Bx8 applications from 2014 and on. Not designed for diesel use. (This oil too has come to be the new norm in the US. Unfortunately this is the case as well with lower levels of protection in favor of fuel economy. Not to omit the lower viscosity as well.)

Essentially your choices are simple and we did all the research for you.

If your BMW is gasoline-powered then these are the oils that you can choose from:

Liqui Moly 5W30 LL-01 Special Tec
5L          Liqui Moly LM2249
1L          Liqui Moly LM2248
Pentosin 5W30 Pento High Performance
5L          Pento High Performance
1L          Pento High Performance

If you wish to run 5W40 in your gasoline-powered BMW your choices are as follow:

Liqui Moly 5W40 Leichtlauf High Tech
5L          Liqui Moly LM2332
1L          Liqui Moly LM2331

If your BMW is powered by the S54, S62, S65 or S85 engine your choices are:

Liqui Moly 10W60
5L          Liqui Moly LM2024
1L          Liqui Moly LM2068
Rowe 10W60 RS Synth Engine Oil
5L          Rowe RS 10W60
1L          Rowe RS 10W60

If your BMW is diesel-powered then your choices are as follows:

Liqui Moly 5W30 TOP TEC 4605
5L          Liqui Moly LM2244
1L          Liqui Moly LM2243
Pentosin 5W30 LL-04
5L          Pentosin 5W30 LL-04
1L          Pentosin 5W30 LL-04

If you have an older BMW that does not fit your preferences mentioned above we also carry a 10W40 oil specially formulated for the older thoroughbreds.

Liqui Moly 10W40 MoS2 (great oil for the older gasoline powered cars with many miles on them, MoS2 aids in keeping all metal parts coated with an added layer of protection and it helps in reducing friction)
5L          Liqui Moly LM2043
1L          Liqui Moly LM2042

Mercedes

Mercedes has three modern tech sheets that we will focus on for non-commercial applications of engine oils. 229.5, 229.51 and 229.52. 229.5 are for modern gasoline engines and 229.51 along with 229.52 are for modern diesel engines. They are backwards compatible with the previous tech sheet requirements.

Gasoline-powered Mercedes 229.5
Liqui Moly 5W40 Leichtlauf High Tech
5L          Liqui Moly LM2332
1L          Liqui Moly LM2331

Diesel-powered Mercedes 229.51
Liqui Moly 5W30 229.51 Longtime HighTec
5L          Liqui Moly LM2039
1L          Liqui Moly LM2038
Pentosin 5W30 229.51
5L          Pentosin 229.51
1L          Pentosin 229.51

Diesel-powered Mercedes 229.52
Liqui Moly 5W30 TOP TEC 4605 229.52
5L          Liqui Moly LM2244
1L          Liqui Moly LM2243

Volkswagen/Audi

VAG has a plethora of spec sheets when it comes to oils. VW 500.00, VW 501.01, VW 502.00, VW 503.00, VW 503.01, VW 504.00, VW 505.00, VW 505.01, VW 506.00, VW 506.01, VW 507.00, VW 508.00, VW 509.00

The good news is that we have backwards compatible oils that for the most part negate worrying about spec approvals. Any VW 504.00 oil is backwards compatible on all gasoline applications. Any VW 507.00 oil is backwards compatible to almost all diesel applications except for R5 and V10 Tdi engines. R5 was not sold in the North American market and the V10 TDI Touareg is a very rare car and it calls for a specific VW 506.01 oil.

If you have a gasoline-powered VW/Audi you can use the following 502.00 oil:
Liqui Moly 5W40 Leichtlauf High Tech
5L          Liqui Moly LM2332
1L          Liqui Moly LM2331

If you have a new VW/Audi that requires 508.00 or 509.00 spec we have the following:
5L          Liqui Moly LM20238
1L          Liqui Moly LM20236

Do you have a newer Diesel VW/Audi? These are the fluids that work in your application from 2006:
Liqui Moly 5W30 Top Tec 4200
5L          Liqui Moly LM2011
1L          Liqui Moly LM2004
Pentosin 5W30 Super Performance III
5L          Pentosin Super Performance III
1L          Pentosin Super Performance III

If you wish to keep 5W40 weight oil in your TDI we have the following oil that will work well. This oil spec is 502.00/505.00/505.01 most applications up to 2006:

Liqui Moly 5W40 Top Tec 4100
5L          Liqui Moly LM2330
1L          Liqui Moly LM2329
Pentosin 5W40 High Performance II
5L          Pentosin High Performance II
1L          Pentosin High Performance II

10W40

Liqui Moly 10W40 MoS2 (great oil for the older gasoline powered cars with many miles on them, MoS2 aids in keeping all metal parts coated with an added layer of protection and it helps in reducing friction)
5L          Liqui Moly LM2043
1L          Liqui Moly LM2042

Volvo

Volvo is very simple in the US market. The oil specs for modern 2000+ engines call for at least an ACEA A1/B1 rating, API SL approval, and ILSAC GF-4 rating. All the approvals call for a 5W30 weight. In Europe the weight Rating is a 0W30 and a slightly different spec. The new generation of Volvo 4 cylinder engines found in the SPA platform call for a 0W20 Volvo spec oil which is very hard to come by on this side of the pond yet we do have it in limited quantities. Currently we offer the following solutions to all your Volvo oil needs:

5W30

Liqui Moly  5W30 Special Tec
5L          Liqui Moly LM2249
1L          Liqui Moly LM2248
Pentosin 5W30 High Performance
5L          Pentosin High Performance
1L          Pentosin High Performance

0W30

Liqui Moly 0W30 Special Tec V (VCC 95200377)
5L          Liqui Moly LM20204
1L          Liqui Moly LM20202

0W20

Liqui Moly 0W20 Special Tec V (Volvo VCC RBS0-2AE)
5L          Liqui Moly LM20200
1L          Liqui Moly LM20198

10W40

Liqui Moly 10W40 MoS2 (great oil for the older gasoline powered cars with many miles on them, MoS2 aids in keeping all metal parts coated with an added layer of protection and it helps in reducing friction)
5L          Liqui Moly LM2043
1L          Liqui Moly LM2042

Porsche

Porsche specs are very straight forward. A40, A30, C30, and C20 . Most Porsche engines use the A40 spec oil with a 5W40 weight. C30 oils are reserved for Hybrid, Diesel and V6 Cayenne applications. C20 oils are for fuel economy with reduced levels of additives that actually protect the engine.

If your Porsche is gasoline-powered and is newer than 1984 (except Cayenne V6) then you can choose from the following oils:

Liqui Moly 5W40 Leichtlauf High Tech
5L          Liqui Moly LM2332
1L          Liqui Moly LM2331
Pentosin 5W40 High Performance II
5L          Pentosin High Performance II
1L          Pentosin High Performance II
Rowe 5W40 SYNT RS HC-D
5L          Rowe Synt RS HC-D
1L          Rowe Synt RS HC-D

If you have a Diesel or a V6 Cayenne you have the following choice:

Liqui Moly 5W30 Top Tec 4200
5L          Liqui Moly LM2330
1L          Liqui Moly LM2329

C20 requirement
5L          Liqui Moly LM20238
1L          Liqui Moly LM20236


Yes, this may seem a bit confusing or overwhelming, but stay with me. We designed our oils to be easily found by spec. You can search by Manufacturer Spec ex.(LL-01, LL-04, VW 502.00, VW 504.00, VW 505.00, VW 505.01, VW 507.00, VW 508.00, VW 509.00, MB 229.5, MB 229.51, MB 229.52, A40, C30, C20, API ratings SN, CF, SL, SM, ACEA ratings C3, A1/B1-A5/B5 etc).

We have also looked deep into the original fluids and their new updated specs. Unfortunately, most Genuine fluids only meet the spec that the manufacturer sets forth ... no more ... no less. In order to be a supplier for a major auto manufacturer you have to provide a great price and thus you need to reduce costs. A lot of the time these fluids are stripped by comparison to a manufacturer that just makes good fluids with great additive packages. If there is a choice to be made we would recommend going with a fluid that carries the Original Manufacturers approval along with a set of other approvals as the different additive packages will provide better protection than just one approval. We welcome you to play around with an Oil Spec Performance Tool from Lubrizol. This tool will allow you to compare the different oil specs and see how they fall on a performance graph, how they are similar, and how they are different.

We also ask you as a consumer to be wary of the oil specs new cars are requiring. They are mostly to be emissions compliant rather then provide the best levels of protection. If you wish to still run the newer oils you must take into account that with lower levels of additives they can not last as long and must be replaced early. We recommend at most 5,000 mile intervals for oil changes under normal use.

We hope this article helps guide you in your oil selection for your beloved European car. 

New Call-to-action

Topics: Do-It-Yourself

About the Author: Michael Delikat
Automobile aficionado. I really enjoy the engineering behind many of the automotive products out today. This includes mundane things which no one really looks at like filters, fluids along with suspension design and behavior. I also enjoy all things rare and produced in low numbers. Being a Service Manager at independent specialists and working at the dealership gives me valuable insight as to how cars get repaired, what products work, and what makes customers happy.
Find me on: