A reader asks: I‘ve got a 2011 VW GTI with the 2.0L turbo engine. It requires a motor oil that meets the VW 502.00 specification. The AMSOIL application guide suggests that I can use ether the European Car Formula Improved ESP 5W-40 or the European Car Formula Classic ESP 5W-40. What is the best oil to use? Is the “Improved” option better than the “Classic” formula?
Our answer: Let us preface our answer by stating that it is vital to choose a motor oil that meets the correct industry specification for your model. This is especially the case with European automobiles. You are fortunate in that you have a couple of choices. Both of these AMSOIL options meet the VW 502.00 spec.
For your car, there’s no wrong answer between the “AFL” AMSOIL European Car Formula Improved ESP 5W-40 or the “EFM” European Car Formula Classic ESP 5W-40. Identical performance and protection is offered by both products.
But we would lean toward “Classic” Formula 5W-40. Simply because it is priced much lower than the “Improved” Formula 5W-40. Here’s why.
What Is The Difference Between European “Improved” And “Classic” Formulas?
While both the “Classic” and “Improved” ESP 5W-40 offer about the same performance and protection, they each have a much different formulation approach.
The Improved ESP 5W-40 Formula has lower “SAPS” levels. This stands for Sulphated Ash, Phosphorus and Sulfur. SAPS are motor oil anti-wear and detergent additives. Higher levels of SAPS in motor oils can cause issues for some sensitive emission system components.
This is why certain modern European models are prescribed a motor oil specification that has low SAPS levels. For instance, most late-model European passenger vehicles with diesel engines have very sophisticated emissions equipment and exhaust treatment devices. They will usually require a low SAPS motor oil.
In place of reduced SAPS levels, motor oils like AMSOIL Improved ESP 5W-40 Formula contain ashless motor oil additives. Ashless additives tend to be far more expensive than regular SAPS additives. A common misconception is that motor oils with lower SAPS levels provide less protection. This is not the case. The ashless additives employed by AMSOIL provide exceptional protection and performance.
SAPS additives are easy to source and relatively inexpensive. This why the Classic ESP 5W-40 is much less expensive than the lower SAPS Improved ESP 5W-40.
In conclusion, both of these synthetic motor oils offer world-class performance, protection and service life. But while they have a much different ingredient list, the end result is same. For that reason, the lower price tag on “Classic” Formula 5W-40 tips the scales in its favor.
Important: For cars that suggest the Improved European Formulas with lower “SAPS”, use only that product. Consult our online application guide to find the right motor oil for your car.
Contact us with questions or to request a price list using the form on this page.