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An Archive for Fanatics of Land Rovers


Ever since I have purchased my Land Rover (Defender 110 Tdi), I have been struggling to find information on the appropriate lubricants to use. My point is that you definitely cannot afford to use second best lubricants just to save a few rand, in view of the possibility of driving your Land Rover for another 100 000 km without having major expenses on the engine or gearbox. On the contrary I have discovered that the most suitable lubricants with all the appropriate specifications are not necessarily the most expensive lubricants.

I have done extensive research on engine, gearbox, transfer case and differential lubricants and would like to share my findings with you. This is just a summary of all the information I have gathered. I am not suggesting that my findings are all facts, as they haven?t been empirically tested. This is however what I believe. In my research I have concentrated on Lubricants available in the RSA.

At 4590mm long, Discovery Sport's compact footprint is 239mm shorter than the seven-seat Land Rover Discovery - which also remains on sale - while its generous wheelbase of 2741mm creates exceptional legroom. This has also allowed Land Rover designers to pull the alloy wheels out towards all four corners of the vehicle. The result is a visually robust, compact stance and low centre of gravity that's suggestive of Discovery Sport's agile, planted driving experience. Sleek, wraparound corners further reduce visual bulk of the front overhang.


In my opinion Land Rover dealers in the RSA are not using top grade lubricants. Castrol has been engaged with Land Rover South Africa in a research project to find the most suitable lubricants for use in Land Rover vehicles. I am therefore convinced that they know better but it seems that they do not offer their customers a choice when it comes to different quality oils. I say the customer should be given a choice on how much he/she wishes to spend on lubricants. It gives guys like me the chance to buy the best that is available.

Most vehicle dealers in the RSA use good diesel engine lubricants but no synthetic lubricants. It seems that the better lubricants, with specific reference to synthetic lubricants are not available in the RSA. You won't find full synthetic heavy duty diesel engine oil with all the correct specifications, at least not in South Africa. Castrol says it could be because the oil drain intervals of diesel engine oils are shorter than those of petrol engines.

Furthermore, it seems that the best lubricants are not always available in your ordinary spare shop. The ordinary spare shop personnel are very seldom knowledgeable enough to know what is best. The best lubricants are mostly unavailable in the ordinary 5L or 500ml containers, or they are hard to find. Some of these lubricants are also very expensive and you will be astonished at the prices you will come across.

Whenever you are searching for the specifications of an engine lubricant you will have to rely on what the manufacturer of the specific product tells you. There are in my opinion no global organisation that can guarantee the performance properties of a specific oil manufactured by a specific oil company.


In my discussion on oils I will mainly focus on the service categories of API and the oil sequences of ACEA to give you a clear picture on which oil to use in the Landy. In my opinion it is important that an engine lubricant complies with both the American and European oil standards. Many lubricants comply with the specifications of only one of abovementioned control bodies, and are thus eliminated.

In my discussion on oils I will mainly focus on the service categories of API and the oil sequences of ACEA to give you a clear picture on which oil to use in the Landy. In my opinion it is important that an engine lubricant complies with both the American and European oil standards. Many lubricants comply with the specifications of only one of abovementioned control bodies, and are thus eliminated.

The API is in my opinion the most well known quality control organisation, and the service categories of API are the most commonly used specifications in the RSA.

API Engine Oil Licensing and Certification System (EOLCS) is a voluntary system. It means that an Oil Company doesn?t have to be registered at API to sell oil. However, oil must be registered with API before the API registered engine oil markings may be displayed on the container. Look for the API?s service symbol on the engine lubricant. You will notice that a very few oils in the RSA carry this service symbol. It seems according to the Web site of API that the only Oil Company in South Africa registered with the API is Engen. Castrol Netherland, Castrol North America and Castrol Japan are for instance authorised to display the service symbol of API on Castrol Magnatec. It seems from what I could gather that Magnatec manufactured in South Africa is not registered with the API. The value of API as far as the quality of oils is concerned is therefore limited in South Africa.

After a company is licensed at the API, it becomes eligible for API's aftermarket audit program. They then purchase a sample of oil at random and test the oil to make sure it meets API requirements. API provides different service categories to give the customer an idea of the application and performance properties of oil. You can go to the Web site of the API ( and discover the world of the identification of quality engine lubricants. On the Web site you can also have a look at a description of the service categories of engine lubricants.

In 1987 the Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association (JAMA) and the American Automobile Manufacturers Association (AAMA) formed the International Lubricant Standardisation and Approval Committee (ILSAC). Together with API, ILSAC also issues oil quality categories, which are carried by the API certification mark. For instance the new category for petrol engines is ILSAC GF-3. Oils that display the starburst symbol must meet the requirements of ILSAC to display the mark. For diesel engines though the certification mark doesn?t mean much.

ACEA (Association des Constructucteurs Europeens De Automobilies) AND ATIEL (Assiciation Technique de Industrie Europenne des Lubrifiants)

The ACEA is a European based organisation representing major motor car manufacturers in Europe. The ACEA presents an oil nut like me with European oil sequences for oils for gasoline engines, light duty diesel engines, and for heavy duty diesel engines. Go to the web site ( of the ACEA for a description of their oil sequences. Compliance with the oil quality sequences of the ACEA is also voluntary. However, for an oil company to claim that a certain oil complies with the requirements of any sequences, specific engine performance testing should be done firstly. The performance testing must be done in accordance with the EELQMS (European Engine Lubricants Quality Management System). The testing procedures are contained in a code of practice, which is the sole property of ATIEL, yet another oil quality control specialist.

The web site ( of ATIEL contains a list of oil companies who have signed the letter of conformance to the EELQMS. You will also find a list of memberships to ATIEL etc.


You will find that in South Africa the SABS also tests oil properties. For the purpose of choosing oil this is in my view only a contributing factor to one's choice and not a detrimental factor. Therefore I am not going to concentrate on specifications from the SABS.


You will notice in the world of oil that diesel engine manufacturers will determine and set their own standards. There are many different specification standards. Here are a few examples:

Cummins: CES 20071, 20072, 20076; Mack: EO-M, EO-M Plus; Volvo: VDS 2; MB: 228.3, MAN: 271, 3275; Ford: M2C-153E, GM: 6094M; Chrysler: MS-6395-H; Allison: Type C-4. (Manufacturers specifications of Caltex Delo 400)

Land Rover has done a similar exercise to approve certain oils. You will find that Castrol Magnatec has Rover specification numbers RES.22.OL.PD-2 and CCMC PD-2. Castrol TXT also has been approved by Rover.


If you are searching for an engine lubricant, firstly make sure that the performance properties of the chosen lubricant meet with the requirements of the vehicle manufacturer and the specific application. In other words ensure that the lubricant provides protection according to the correct API service category and ACEA oil sequences. Secondly, look for the correct viscosity (SAE 10W40 or 15W40) (Society of Automotive Engineers) specified by the vehicle manufacturer. The viscosity of oils is the measure of an oil?s thickness and ability to flow at certain temperatures. Multigrade oils are best for the Landy simply because of harsh changes in ambient temperatures in Africa. Lastly, decide whether you are going to use a mineral or synthetic lubricant. A synthetic lubricant is produced by chemical synthesis rather than by extraction or refinement of petroleum to produce a compound with planned and predictable properties. Synthetic oils remain stable longer and can cope with oxidation (long and high temperature fluctuations) far better than mineral oil grades. They are much more expensive though!

Just to make things a bit more complicated, there are a whole lot of other oil properties to be taken into account when choosing the ideal engine lubricant. I am only going to name 6 of these other very important properties. You can E-mail me if you require more information. The properties are: viscosity index (VI), flash point, pour point, % sulphated ash, % zinc and Total Base Number (TBN) (the quantity of acid, expressed in terms of the equivalent number of milligrams of potassium hydroxide that is required to neutralise all basic constituents present in 1 gram of sample. (ASTM Designation D 974.)).



You will find that the letters SL indicates the current service category for petrol engines. The letters SJ represented the previous service category. The SL category includes the performance properties of all earlier service categories for petrol engines. The SL service category will thus provide maximum protection to a petrol engine.

There are four current service categories for four stroke diesel engines (CH-4; CG-4; CF; CF-4). Service category CH-4 was introduced in 1998 and replaces all other service categories for four stroke diesel engines except service category CF. Service category CG-4 was introduced in 1995 and also replaces all other service categories for four stroke diesel engines except service category CF.

Land Rover Service Manual with publication number LRL 0097 ENG (3rd Edition) prescribes that oil with API service category CD should be used in the 300Tdi engine. The service category CD was, according to API, introduced in 1955 for certain naturally aspirated and turbocharged engines. I do not know why Land Rover still prescribes the above service category in this specific Service Manual. My Owners Manual prescribes the service category CE. According to API this service category was introduced in 1987. It is now obsolete and has been replaced by service categories CF-4; CG-4 and CH-4. Oils with service category CG-4 and CH-4 will thus exceed the requirements of Land Rover.

A question arises about the appropriateness to use diesel engine oil with service category CG-4 or CH-4 where a service category CD is prescribed. API has ensured me that the current service category can indeed be used in cases where an earlier or older service category has been prescribed. I personally would accept the service category CG-4 to be used in the 300Tdi engine.

The only other problem is that according to the description of the service categories by API, all the current service categories give engine protection when diesel with a sulphur content of up to 0.5% is used. The CF service category seems to be the only service category to handle a diesel sulphur content of more than 0.5%. According to a bulletin on Landyonline about the sulphur content of Sasol diesel, the average sulphur content in the RSA is 0.55%, except if you are using Sasol Diesel (0.3% at the moment). BP (British Petroleum) is also now claiming that their diesel only contains 0.3% sulphur. This is available in Kwa-Zulu Natal at service stations served by the Sapref refinery in Durban. API warns though and says that whenever diesel with a sulphur content of more than 0.5% is used one should stick to engine oil, which includes performance properties of the service category CF. Furthermore, Land Rover prescribes a viscosity of 15W40.

Just a point to note, it seems that lubricant manufacturers do not concentrate on the development of diesel engine lubricants with performance properties of the service category CF, maybe because of the fact that the problem with high levels of sulphur has been solved in the USA and Europe.

ACEA (Association des Constructucteurs Europeens De Automobilies) AND ATIEL (Assiciation Technique de Industrie Europenne des Lubrifiants)


The ACEA has three engine oil categories. One for petrol engines (A1, A2 and A3), another for light duty diesel engines (B1,B2,B3 and B4) and one for heavy duty diesel engines (E2, E3, E4 and E5). You can read through a more comprehensive description of the sequences on their web site. It seems that ACEA oil sequences are revised approximately every two years. As far as I am concerned it is not worth the effort to go deeper into the differences between the years of issue of a specific sequence, as long as the sequence which is being used is not issued before 1996. You will in actual fact notice there are manufacturers that do not specify a sequence?s year of issue.

In my Owners Manual Land Rover prescribes that sequence B2-96 be used. This means that the sequence B2 of 1996 is prescribed. This oil category is more relevant and up to date which can indicate that Land Rover is more in stride with the European oil standards than the American oil standards as far as the prescribed standards in the manuals that I have used are concerned. If you look at the description of the oil sequence B2 you will notice that oil with this sequence is intended for most car and light van diesel engines (primarily indirect injection).

Just for interest sake, there is a Global specification (DHD 1) on diesel engine oil that is developed by the ACEA in conjunction with EMA (Engine Manufacturers Association) and JAMA (Japanese Automobile Manufacturers Association). This global performance specification is developed for four stroke-cycle heavy duty diesel engines. They define heavy duty diesel engines as diesel engines used in vehicles with a gross vehicle weight rating of 3900kg. or higher. This indicates that it is not really applicable to the Defender but in my opinion it can certainly be beneficial.

Again the question arises regarding the appropriateness of using heavy duty diesel engine oil in an engine which is not really a heavy duty diesel engine. I posed this question to Land Rover in the UK. They advised me that as long as the oil that is being used meets with or exceeds the specifications issued by Land Rover, it is in order to use any oil. They also provided me with a spreadsheet which contains all relevant oil specifications for Land Rovers and according to this spreadsheet sequence E2 is prescribed for the 300Tdi engine.

According to the description of the ACEA of a heavy duty diesel engine the 300Tdi engine is not really a heavy duty engine but as far as I am concerned engine oil for the 300Tdi should at least comply with sequence E2 as prescribed by Land Rover UK. My argument is simply that some of the oil properties of a heavy duty diesel engine oil can only be beneficial to the 300Tdi engine especially when heavy towing and off roading is done frequently.

If all the above mentioned facts are taken into account the ideal diesel engine Lubricant should meet with the following criteria:

  • Can be mineral but preferably part synthetic
  • Must include API service categories CG-4 and CF and at least ACEA E2-96.
  • Must have a SAE rating in the region of 10W40

There are a few mineral premium oils available in the RSA that meet with both abovementioned API and ACEA criteria and exceed the requirements of Land Rover by far. In each case I am providing you with only the diesel service categories and in most cases only the relevant specifications. Most of the diesel lubricants also carry the service category SJ for petrol engines and a whole lot of builder specifications.

Caltex Delo 400 15W40 CF, CH-4 and E3 Caltex has the following to say about Delo 400. Delo 400 is manufactured using Group II base oils and has beaten full synthetic oils in a number of tests. It is rated at API CH-4 and carries a number of OEM specs including the highest Cummins spec (20077), as well as passing the new world spec DHD 1.
Sasol Sapphire 15W40 CH-4/CG-4/CF-4/CF and B3-98/B4-98/E3-96/E5-99
Caltex Delo 500 15W40 CG-4/CF and E2

Unfortunately there are no full synthetic or even part synthetic oils that meet with the above mentioned criteria. The fact is that some lubricant manufacturers do not always value compliance with the specifications of API and ACEA together. They seem to be happy with just the one or the other. I am however going to name a few oils that I deem very good lubricants. Again I am providing you with only what I regard as the relevant specifications:

Mobil Delvac 1 (Synthetic) 5W40 CG-4/CF-2/CF-4
Mobil Delvac 1300 Plus 15W40 CH-4/CG 4/CF/CF-4/CD-II
Total Fina Kappa Ultra (Full synthetic) 10W40 CF
Total Rubia TIR 8600 (Part synthetic) 10W40 E3-96
Castrol Syndio Plus (Synthetic based) 10W40 CH-4/CG-4/CF-4/ and E3/E5/B3
Shell Rimula Ultra (Part synthetic) 10W40 CF and E3/E4
Habot (Full synthetic) 15W40 Habot only says that their oil complies with the service categories of API. Go to the website of Habot for more information. (

Land Rover dealers in general use Castrol GTX Magnatec for the 300Tdi engine. The relevant specifications of Magnatec are as follows:

Castrol GTX Magnatec (Part synthetic) 10W40 CF and B3

Magnatec is a great lubricant but does not meet with the performance properties of service category CG-4 or oil sequence E2. The Rover Group has however specifically approved Magnatec.

It seems that Castrol prefers the use of Castrol TXT for the following reason. According to them oil vapours vented into engine inlet systems is a big problem in diesel engines. Castrol claims that TXT outperforms other heavier viscosities with respect to volatility and inlet manifold wetting. The specifications of TXT are as follows:

Castrol TXT (Part synthetic) 5W30 CF and B3/B4

Like Magnatec, TXT is a great lubricant but again I miss service category CG-4 and oil sequence E2. The Rover Group has also specifically approved TXT.

Enough is said about engine lubricants. All that remains is to make a choice.

The lubricants that I have chosen for the 300Tdi is as follows: Caltex Delo 400, Sasol Sapphire, Caltex Delo 500

Both the Caltex oils can be purchased at Caltex Depots around the country. For guys near Centurion you can order these oils at Midas in Centurion. Speak to Emiel. For orders on Sapphire you can call Theresa in the Pretoria region on 5620414.


You will find that the service categories of gear lubricants are much different than that of Engine lubricants. API does not license gear lubricants. They only issue the GL and MT-1 descriptions. Look on Caltex web site ( for the API gear lubricant classifications. What is important is that service category GL-4 and GL-5 contains EP (Extreme Pressure) additives to protect gears under enormous strain like the differentials when low range is used. Service category GL-5 contains more EP additives than category GL-4. A category GL-5 oil is therefore not recommended for use in synchromesh transmissions.


The ideal lubricant for the R380 Gearbox should meet with the following criteria:

  • Full Synthetic
  • API GL-4
  • SAE 75W80

Land Rover prescribes in my Service Manual that lubricants with Dexron II specification should be used. This is oil that has been used for automatic transmissions (Red oil). According to Castrol this indicates that the R380 gearbox is rather more viscosity sensitive than performance level sensitive, in other words it?s something like a manual transmission calling for engine oils. During 1998 they have changed the main gearbox lubricant to Texaco MTF 94. With this they have changed the specifications to a GL-4 lubricant with viscosity 75W80, although my Service Manual still prescribes that oil with a specification of ATF Dexron IID be used. In any case, the only other oils I could find with similar specifications are:

Castrol VMX (Semi synthetic) 75W80 GL-4
Fina Pontonic TI (Semi synthetic) 75W80 GL-4
Shell Spirax (Part synthetic) 75W80 GL-4

Castrol also recommends that Castrol VMX 80 be used in the main gearbox (R380). That is why Land Rover uses VMX in the main gearbox.

The ideal lubricant for the R380 is undoubtedly Texaco MTF 94. It is marketed in the RSA as Caltex MTF 94. Land Rover has done extensive research on this oil and it is the best. The specifications of MTF 94 are as follows:

Texaco MTF 94 (Full synthetic) 75W80 GL-4

I have full specifications on MTF 94 if you would like to get hold of it. You will find MTF 94 at Caltex Depots around the country.


According to the specifications prescribed by Land Rover a GL-4 or GL-5 oil can be used in the transfer case. Castrol recommends that VMX 80 also be used in the transfer case. It is mild pressure oil and is developed by Castrol to improve cold gear shifting. VMX 80 and MTF 94 have the same specifications as far as API service category and SAE viscosity grading are concerned. If you are going to use a GL-4 oil, I would recommend that you preferably use MTF 94 for the transfer case as well.

On the other hand. Since the transfer case like the differentials are under enormous pressure when using low range and since the transfer differential is not separate from the transfer case my recommendation will be to rather use thicker oil with more EP additives. In my view the transfer case of the Land Rover is nothing else than a third differential rather than a second gearbox. This calls for the service category GL-5. Castrol and Caltex Australia also recommend this.

In my view the ideal oil for the transfer case should meet with the following criteria:

  • Full Synthetic
  • SAE 75w90
  • GL-5

However the following oils may also be used:

Castrol EPX 80W90 GL-5
Caltex Thuban GL5 EP 80W90 GL-5
Shell Spirax ASX (Synthetic based) 75W90 GL-5
Habot (Full synthetic) 80W90 GL-5

The ideal oil for the transfer case as far as I am concerned is Castrol SAF-XO. The specifications are as follows:

Castrol SAF-XO (Full Synthetic) 75W90 GL-5

In the Pretoria region you can order this oil from Oom Jan or Emiel at Midas in Centurion.


If all of the above regarding gear oils are taken into account the ideal oil for the differentials should meet with the following criteria:

  • Full Synthetic
  • SAE 75w90
  • GL-5

The same oils for the transfer case with service category GL-5 can be used in the differentials:

Castrol EPX 80W90 GL-5
Caltex Thuban GL5 EP 80W90 GL-5
Shell Spirax ASX (Synthetic based) 75W90 GL-5
Habot (Full synthetic) 80W90 GL-5

Castrol recommends that Castrol SAF-XO be used in the differentials. The Workshop Manual from Land Rover prescribes a GL-5 oil with viscosity 90. I also recommend that Castrol SAF-XO be used. I have full specifications on SAF-XO if you would like to get hold of it. Castrol SAF-XO is very expensive. If you frequently use your Land Rover in mud or water where the possibility of water ingress into the differentials is high, it would be wise to use Shell Spirax to cut down on costs.

I hope with this article I have shed some light on the issue of lubricants for the Defender.

Happy driving, Gerhard VanDerMerwe

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