Dispelling the myths: OEMs, specifications, approvals, warranties and the Block Exemption Regulation

Person working in lab

At Millers Oils we get asked a lot of questions about using oil that “meets specification” versus “OEM approved”, and its effect on vehicle warranty. So, we’ve put together a short blog to help answer questions and dispel the myths.

Firstly, what’s an OEM?

OEM stands for Original Equipment Manufacturer, i.e. the company that made your vehicle.

What’s the difference between an oil that’s approved, and an oil that meets specification?

As well as industry standards for oil, such as the European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (ACEA), OEMs often have their own standards or specifications for oil that can be used in their vehicles. These specifications are available to oil blenders, who can then formulate products that meet the criteria. If an oil has been formulated in line with the OEM specification, it is described as “meets specification”. An oil is OEM approved if it has been submitted to the vehicle manufacturer for testing, and they have confirmed that it meets specification.

How do I know if an oil really does “meet specification”?

An industry organisation called the Verification of Lubricant Specification (VLS) monitors the market and checks compliance of products to industry and performance standards. This means businesses and consumers can have confidence in the claims that oil blenders make.

For more information, visit http://ukla-vls.org.uk/

If I use an oil that “meets specification”, will it invalidate my warranty?

Quick answer: No, an oil that meets specification will not invalidate your warranty. Detailed answer: In 2003, the European Commission introduced the Block Exemption Regulation. This is a law that stops unfair activities that prevent competition. In the context of oil, it means motorists can have their vehicles serviced or repaired in any chosen workshop without invalidating their manufacturer’s warranty. This is as long as the work, parts and oil are of appropriate and matching standard to that of the manufacturer.

So, if an oil meets the OEM specification, it is the same standard as the OEM approved oil and will not invalidate your warranty.

For any further information on this topic, contact technical@millersoils.co.uk

  1. The oil sample must be representative of the oil in circulation for accuracy. I.e. the most central point in the reservoir. This must also be from a repeatable source for consistency.
  2. Always use a new sample bottle and keep sealed until the sample is taken using a sampling pump. This will avoid airborne contamination.
  3. If it is safe to do so, take the sample from the machine while it is still running or within 15 minutes of the machine shutting down.
  4. Always take oil samples pre-filter for accurate results, or sample both beforeand after filtration.
  5. If the drain plug is the only option to sample, flush the valve and discard a small quantity of oil before drawing the sample. This will minimise contamination from the bottom of the sump/oil reservoir.


Viscosity is crucial for optimum lubrication, and can change due to contamination or oxidation.


Oil can become contaminated by environmental factors such as water, dust and debris, as well as by other oils.

Wear metals

Wear metals in the oil offer an insight into not just the health of the oil but the health of the machine components. High levels of a certain metal can indicate that a particular component may need replacing soon.

Additive level

Additives such as anti-wear, anti-corrosion etc. become depleted over time as they fulfil their purpose in the oil.