Maintenance Matters

May 2008 Issue

Aircraft Engine Oils : Bp vs. Everyone Else

BP’s Castrol Aviator monogrades are competent products and a good value, but we can’t make a strong argument to switch from another oil.

When an engine tanks prematurely, the recriminations begin. Did the shop screw up the overhaul? Was it bad cylinders? Or could it have been the oil you used? Yeah, maybe that’s it…if only you’d used Exxon Elite instead of Aeroshell, you wouldn’t be looking at a mid-time overhaul. This is the sort of fear, uncertainty and doubt that advertising is meant to mine. And the copywriters are good at it. Elite, for instance, is touted as offering a two-fold increase in rust protection over the nearest competitor. Aeroshell’s popular 15W50 "helps engines start faster and eliminates need for seasonal oil changes." BP is marketing Castrol’s aviation oil and not just claiming it’s the best, but offering to prove it with lab tests showing Castrol Aviator passed rust and engine deposit trials while its competitors failed. What’s going on here? Are the oil companies lying or just stretching the truth? In our view, it’s more the latter than the former—the engine oil ads make claims that are demonstrably true, but they make no effort to place these claims in context. The oil companies are happy having you make buying decisions in their favor with little grasp of the larger picture of oil performance.

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