What to look for when buying engine oil so as not to run into a fake

Counterfeit engine oil Auto

Counterfeit motor oil is a common scam. A car enthusiast who has fallen for the bait of counterfeiters will soon have to pay a lot of money for engine repairs. There are several ways to recognize imitation.

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Counterfeit engine oil
Counterfeit engine oil can cause irreparable damage to the engine.

Reasons for counterfeit products

Read also: how to check oil for originality

A large number of underground workshops that counterfeit oils of popular brands is explained by the following factors:

  1. Constantly growing demand for these products. The number of cars in Russia is increasing, and an internal combustion engine cannot function without oil. Used grease is periodically changed to a new one, so there will always be a buyer for a fake.
  2. The simplicity and low cost of manufacturing such a counterfeit.

Read also: how to check oil Liquimoly and don't fall for a fake

What kind of oil is counterfeited most often

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In order to maximize profits, scammers counterfeit expensive oils of world brands, for example:

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Preference is given to brands that produce products in plastic cans. The production of such containers does not require expensive equipment, it is easy to manufacture in handicraft conditions.

Oils supplied in metal containers are less likely to be adulterated. For the production of such containers and the application of an image on it, a park of expensive equipment is required, which makes the underground workshop unprofitable.

Oil fake
Counterfeit engine oil exists for almost all brands.

Fraudsters are left to buy empty canisters with lids in car services, which limits the volume of counterfeit goods.

Therefore, when buying oils of the following brands, the risk of running into a fake is significantly reduced:

  • "Nissan";
  • "Toyota";
  • "Demitsu".

Varieties of fakes

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Under the guise of branded grease, counterfeiters supply:

  1. Illuminated work.
  2. Cheap oil, often even without mineral additives.

Read also: how to check shell oil for authenticity

How to understand that you have purchased low-quality engine oil

After pouring the surrogate into the engine, the following phenomena are observed:

  1. In the cold, it starts with great difficulty. This is due to the thickening of the lubricant.
  2. Oil consumption increases, the composition must be topped up more often. Due to inconsistency with the operating parameters, it quickly burns out.
  3. The motor pulls worse and runs unevenly. Since the composition does not perform its functions well, friction between the parts increases.
  4. During starting, the engine twitches, blue smoke comes out of it.
  5. Deposits appear on the details. The reason is the low quality of additives or their absence.
  6. The motor gets hotter.
Poor quality engine oil
After filling the surrogate, oil consumption increases.

Even with slight suspicions, it is recommended to change the oil. Repair will cost much more than buying an extra canister.

What to look for when buying

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In order not to buy counterfeit products instead of quality products, you need to carefully examine the offered goods. Fearing image and financial losses, auto chemistry manufacturers are constantly introducing more and more sophisticated anti-counterfeit protection.

Therefore, before going to the store, it is recommended to visit the manufacturer's website and see how the canister with its oil now looks. It is also useful to take an empty container from a previously purchased product with you so that you have something to compare the offered product with.

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Signs of a non-original origin of the lubricant in a plastic canister are:

  1. A sharp chemical smell emanating from the polymer.
  2. Small wall thickness, due to which the container is translucent.
  3. Burrs, shells, tides and other casting defects.
  4. Uneven seam at the junction of 2 halves.
  5. Weak handle grip.
  6. Not cast, but painted with paint, a measuring scale for determining the remainder.
  7. Faded label, possibly with errors. Being touched with a fingernail, it is easily peeled off, glued unevenly. Air bubbles are present.
  8. Dates of container manufacture (applied to the bottom) and oil production that do not correspond to each other. The first must be earlier and identical to that indicated on the label.
  9. Lack of mark with lot number and expiration date.
A sign of non-original oil is a label that can be easily peeled off.

Branded grease is produced in defect-free containers made of high-quality durable plastic. It shimmers in the light like a metallic and may have blotches. The label is bright, with rich colors, glued securely.

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It contains the data:

  • viscosity grade according to SAE J 300;
  • engine type - diesel or gasoline;
  • type of oil - synthetic, mineral, combined (semi-synthetic);
  • the international standard to which the product conforms;
  • automaker certification marks.

It is more difficult to recognize a fake in a metal canister, since it is original.

A fake is given out by dents, oil leaks, scratches and other defects indicating the reuse of the container.

Common to all types of imitation are the following features:

  1. The cover is not connected to the protective ring, or it is missing. In the original version, both elements are connected by thin ties, which, when first unscrewed, break with a characteristic crunch. The ring remains on the neck. If it is removed together with the lid or it is put on glue, then the product is fake.
  2. The image on the cover and the ring does not match. Manufacturers apply a logo, barcode or other pattern to both elements, which is broken when the canister is opened. It is impossible to match the two parts exactly again.
  3. Oil flows out of the inverted canister.
  4. Instead of anti-counterfeit protection elements provided by the manufacturer (holograms, etc.), there are only their printed images.
  5. All canisters bear the same date and time of issue. Manufacturers indicate the moment of packaging to the nearest second, so there can be no containers with the same markings.
A fake in a metal canister contains dents and scratches.


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Fraudsters use low prices and discounts as traditional bait. If, compared to other stores, a product is sold cheaper by more than 10%-15%, there is reason to doubt its originality.

Sometimes manufacturers of auto chemicals sell their products on preferential terms, but the discount does not exceed a few percent and is provided only to the largest retailers. This means that only a fake can be sold with a large markdown.

Often scammers explain a tempting price by holding a promotion or sale. This should arouse suspicion, especially if the event is organized in a small shop or kiosk.

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Place of purchase

The probability of buying a counterfeit is inversely related to the scale of the point of sale.

There are fewer fakes in large stores and retail chains for the following reasons:

  1. They buy goods in bulk, so they often work directly with the manufacturer or official dealer.
  2. The owner of a large enterprise enters the market seriously and for a long time, therefore he values \u200b\u200bits reputation and carefully checks suppliers.

In a small market store, a kiosk at a gas station, a little-known Internet site, and other small retail outlets, the chance of running into a fake increases dramatically. It is recommended to purchase products here only if the buyer knows the seller well and is ready to personally vouch for his decency.

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Place of purchase
The owner of a large enterprise carefully checks suppliers.

It is better if the store can present the following documents:

  • partner certificate - confirms the cooperation of a trading company with a manufacturer of auto chemicals;
  • for imported goods - a declaration of importation into the country;
  • product quality certificate.

The most reliable stores are listed on the manufacturer's website in the "Where to buy" section.

Table of differences

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For clarity, it is useful to summarize all the data in a table:

Criterion Original Fake
Place of purchase Large store or official dealer of the manufacturer Kiosk in the market or gas station
Label Glued evenly, high-quality printing Faded, poorly held and has defects
Lid Clean, no oil drips, crunchy when opened There are traces of opening, the image on the side of the cover and the protective ring does not match
canister Solid, without defects, with elements of protection against counterfeiting The plastic emits a strong smell, the seam between the 2 halves is uneven. There are dents and other damage on the metal canister.

Methods for determining authenticity

The absence of defects on the packaging does not guarantee the authenticity of the contents. It is recommended to apply additional verification methods.

Smartphone reading

Manufacturers put on the label:

  • QR code;
  • digital number.

Fraudsters also imitate them, so the mere fact of the presence of these elements does not yet confirm the original origin of the product. You need to read the QR code as a smartphone and see where it leads. This badge will display a page on the official website of the manufacturer confirming the authenticity of the oil.

QR code
When reading a fake code, an error message appears.

When reading a fake code, the result is as follows:

  • an error message appears;
  • the browser goes to the manufacturer's website, but only to the main page.

The digital number allows you to identify the package without a smartphone. They go to the manufacturer's web portal, enter the "Oil Check" section and type it in a special field. If the code is original, the system will confirm the authenticity of the composition.

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Content Inspection

A sign of a fake is also a different amount of product in several containers. The packaging of the original oil is carried out automatically, so its level in all canisters will be the same.

After making a purchase, you do not need to immediately pour the composition into the engine.

The product itself can also be checked for authenticity in several ways:

  1. Smell the contents of the container carefully. A pungent smell, for example, of acetone, indicates poor quality of the oil.
  2. Drop a small amount of the mixture onto the paper and tilt the sheet so that it is glassy. The trace should be clean, colorless, barely visible. A rich dark shade is a sign of a fake.
  3. Pour the oil into a glass and place in a dark place. After 10-15 minutes, check it for homogeneity. A poor-quality product is stratified.
  4. Rub a drop of liquid between your fingers. If it is a surrogate, you can feel small grains of sand. When settling, they settle to the bottom.
  5. Refrigerate a small batch to the minimum operating temperature indicated on the label. The fake will thicken, losing its fluidity. If this happens in the engine, then at start-up it will run almost dry.
Content Inspection
Before pouring oil into the engine, it must be inspected.

How to distinguish popular oils from fakes

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In addition to generally accepted protection methods, manufacturers use their own developments. You can find them on the company's website.


This company provided the ability to check the numeric code from the hologram not only on the website, but also in several other ways:

  • in a special mobile application;
  • by sending SMS;
  • by calling the hotline.

Castrol applies numerical codes not only to canisters, but also to barrels for wholesalers.

On the lid by laser engraving, 2 images of the logo are performed:

  • top (depressed);
  • on the side with the grip of the protective ring.
Castrol provided the ability to check the code from the hologram.

Other features:

  1. The neck is closed with a silver foil membrane.
  2. On the label at the bottom there is a holographic image of the lock with a color company logo.
  3. The canister is engraved with a serial number.
  4. There is a holographic sticker with a code.


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The Mobil company applies the protection system introduced in 2018.

It includes:

  1. Signs luminous in ultraviolet - the letter "O" in the company logo and the value of viscosity.
  2. Double label. The top layer peels off easily.
  3. Convex metal dots on the canister. Each has a barcode printed on it.
Mobile has a double label.

Having peeled off the top layer of the label, the buyer sees:

  • QR code for scanning with a smartphone;
  • 12-digit number to check on the site.

The company's web portal has a video tutorial listing all the security features.


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At Shel, a tear-off sticker with the following elements is stuck on the lid of the canister:

  1. A white numeric number that matches the last digits of the barcode. When wet, it turns red.
  2. Holographic mesh. When you change the angle of view, it becomes either gray or green.
  3. A holographic image-animation of 4 icons, when changing the viewing angle, merging into the word genuine. It means "original" in English.
Shell stick a sticker on the canister lid.

Having torn off the sticker, the user sees on the cover:

  • QR code for scanning with a smartphone;
  • 16-digit number to check on the manufacturer's website.

Selection criteria in the online store

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Signs of a decent online store:

  1. His details are on the website of the Federal Tax Service. Otherwise, this is an imaginary trading platform, scammers will simply take the money.
  2. The right of the buyer to return the goods within 14 days is declared.
  3. When buying, customers are provided with reporting documentation.
  4. The entire range produced by the manufacturer is available. The presence of only some positions indicates a high probability of illegal origin of the goods.
  5. The store is large, widely known and has been operating for a long time.

When buying engine oil in a small and little-known store, there is a high chance of running into a fake.

Online store
The online store must be widely known.

How not to identify a fake: debunking myths

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The following misconceptions are common among motorists regarding engine oil:

  1. Counterfeit can be identified by the thickness of the plastic and the handle of the canister. This is not true. Many manufacturers, such as the German company Liqui Moly, order containers from several different suppliers. Tanks differ in wall thickness and handle sizes. Common to all are high quality, lack of pungent odor and defects.
  2. The label must exactly repeat the one shown on the site or on the used original canister. In fact, the text on the sticker changes depending on which region the product is intended for. For some countries, canisters can also be provided with books (booklets) with text in several languages or with an additional sticker. General requirements: high quality printing, smooth position without distortion, no errors.
  3. The presence of certificates from the seller guarantees the quality of the goods. The store can sell both original branded oils and fake ones at the same time. Certificates are a weighty argument in favor of the integrity of this point of sale, but one should not forget about other ways to detect fakes.

Consequences of using non-original engine oil

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The use of counterfeit leads to the following consequences:

  1. Coking and engine breakdown after 3-7 thousand kilometers. This effect produces clarified mining.
  2. Accelerated wear of parts. A fake does not correspond to the temperatures at which the car is operated. In the cold, it becomes too viscous, in the heat - too liquid. Lubrication does not perform its functions, and friction between parts increases.
  3. Loss of power and increased fuel consumption. The motor has to overcome the additional resistance of the frictional force between the moving parts.
  4. Overheating of the engine with jamming of parts.

The last option is the most dangerous. If this happens while driving, the motorist may have an accident.

What to do if you sold a fake?

Where to go if you sold a fake?


Andrey Kozhevnikov

Blog author. 7 years of experience as a Merchandiser. Specialist in the definition of quality products. Distinguished more than 5,000 fake goods. My motto: there is no limit to perfection!

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Add a comment

  1. georgi

    xoroshie maslo sam polzuys i vam sovetuy

  2. Egor

    People will always chase low prices even to the detriment of an engine breakdown, and every year the fakes are getting better and better, they make better labels, they glue better, they select containers more competently, it is more difficult to determine

  3. Andrey

    I already ran into a fake, then I had to give the car away for something else, this will not happen again and I am warned, now I know how to distinguish, and I will not fall for scammers.

  4. Michael

    If you buy cheap oil, you will run into expensive repairs. If you buy more expensive oil, you will most likely run into expensive repairs. Alas, now it’s not the USSR, when all brands of oils could be counted on the fingers of one hand, it didn’t spill into beautiful flasks with bright stickers, but it corresponded to GOST and didn’t occur to anyone because. it was not expensive, and the state was engaged in the sale; now, when buying oil, it is worth dealing only with a trusted seller who protects his image. his business depends on it, whether he will have regular customers.

  5. Ilya

    It's no secret that now there are a lot of mixtures, various additives in order to save money and cash in on customers, so it's better to know what properties a real oil has from a fake.

  6. Anatoly

    It was the use of low-quality oil that “stopped” my first diesel Volkswagen. When the engine head was opened, we wondered how it even drove ... But then it was the end of the 90s ... Yes, we must fight against fakes. I think that in our time it is easier to recognize a fake, more information, for example, like this article. I think you just have to be willing not to buy a fake product and the rest will follow. thanks for the information