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Costly lubricants force motorists to defer routine maintenance

By Benjamin Alade
12 November 2021   |   4:08 am
Automobiles plying Nigerian roads are at risk of not getting routine maintenance because of costly lubricants and parts.


…Automobiles at risk over higher upkeep
Automobiles plying Nigerian roads are at risk of not getting routine maintenance because of costly lubricants and parts.

This is on account of a steady spike in prices of lubricant, otherwise known as ‘engine oil’, whose rates have lately doubled, at least on the average.

While motorists are groaning, amid grim economic realities and competing needs, auto experts have warned that more automobiles are at risk of shorter lifespan, coupled with their environmental hazards.

Findings by The Guardian across filling stations showed that the price of a 4-litre gallon of Mobil 5W30 (semi-synthetic) that was sold for an average of N5, 500 at the beginning of the year, now sells within the range of N9,500 and N12,000. Its full-synthetic version rose to an average of N32,000 from N20,000. Outside the Lagos commercial nerve-centre, the prices tend to be higher.

Aside from popular brands like Total, Mobil, Oando, MRS, most car owners have resorted to brands like Gulf, Seahorse, Petrocam, and Martex, as alternatives.

The Guardian recently reported that lack of local refining capacity for basic fuels and other petroleum products has left the nation dependent on the importation of lubricants, with yearly expenditure likely to exceed the $500 million benchmark going by the rally in oil prices.

This, in turn, has caused a significant increase in the cost of maintaining and servicing engines in the country.

The hike is not exclusive to Nigeria, as it is a global issue. Stakeholders say it is quite unfortunate; however, that Nigeria suffers from global scarcity despite being a major producer of crude oil.

In the first quarter of 2021, Nigeria spent N71.6 billion to import lubricants that could be blended locally, according to the latest trade data published by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).

The spike in engine oil prices has led to fake and substandard oil in the market. The effects of this, experts say, will result in engine damage or malfunction.

A lubricant seller, Charles Ewone, said: “I import and sell American Mobil 1 Synthetic engine oil. I do sell at N15, 000 to wholesalers and retail at N17, 000. But because of the high exchange rate, I now sell at 16,000 to wholesalers and 19,000 for retail. The price just kept shooting up and now there are many fake Mobil 1 Engine oil in town, imported from the Middle East and China. And there seems to be no end to it.”

Though the need for engine oil is often underestimated, one cannot deny that it is one of the basic automotive components.

Besides, experts have said if car owners don’t take cognizance of the oil type required for their vehicles, it could ruin their engines. Hence, they advise motorists to ensure the right usage of lubricants as prescribed by Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM).

Service Manager of an auto-tech company, Fixit45, Odusina Abiodun, said if the lubricant of an engine is not changed often, it can hinder the operations of the vehicle.

According to Abiodun, modern motor vehicles use a variety of lubricants and fluids to operate according to design. These fluids are used to lubricate, disperse heat and operate different functions during day-to-day driving.

Abiodun, who attested to the spike, said car owners must use the specified lubricants required for their vehicles, irrespective of the brands.

A motorist, Paul Oletu, said: “My car, motorcycle and generator had been put out of use for months now due to unsteady cash flow. Recently I decided to fix all of them. That was when I noticed that Nigeria had totally ‘transformed’.

“Although I had been hearing stories about the increase in engine oil, I never knew it was this bad. The oil I bought for N6, 500 some months back is now N8,500 while the one called Aburo inside a plastic bottle that I usually buy for N250 is now N600 or N650. This diesel engine oil used to sell for between N22, 000 and N24,000, but the one of N24,000 is now N35,000,” he said.