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Are there actually any differences in engine oil specifications?

Can there really be any difference in engine oils with specification 5W/30 and that meet ACEA C3 for diesel cars? I see that several oil manufacturers produce engine oils for specific cars, eg. VW cars, BMW cars, Mercedes-Benz cars.

If the engine oil specification is the same for the different cars eg 5W/30 and ACEA C3, what is the difference? The reason why I ask is that I have an unopened 5L container of engine oil 5W/30 which meets ACEA C3 specifications but which says it is for VWG cars which require VW 507 specifications. Can this oil be used in a BMW 520d which also requires 5W/30 and meets ACEA C3 and BMW LL04 specification? In other words, what's the difference between VW 507 and BMW LL04? Or is this all marketing hype to confuse the motorist?

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The ACEA ( which is Association des Constructeurs Europeens d'Automobiles) represents the interests of European vehicle manufacturers within the EU. The ACEA specification tells you that an oil meets their standards.

The performance of the oil is broken down into different categories:
A = Petrol
B = Diesel
C = Catalyst compatible or low SAPS (Sulphated Ash, Phosphorus and Sulphur).

LL04 is specific to BMW who recommend it for their European cars (low sulphur content fuels)

VW507 is similar in that they recommend it for diesel engines. Long life servicing. Engines with DPF
There is little difference between them, but as you are aware each manufacturer will have a specific recommendation for their car.

Some car owners stick strictly to the recommendation for the life of the car, whilst others change depending on the car's value/mileage etc. Personally, I tend to stay with the same oil throughout as long as it is one of the better oils (Castrol/ Mobil/Shell). You do not say what make of oil you have in your 5lt but if it is one of those I have suggested then would consider using it
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