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Normal mineral oils can allow dirt particles to stick together and form sludge on engine surfaces. This can prevent proper lubrication and could lead to premature engine failure.

Shell Helix oils’ active cleansing agents are designed to prevent dirt particles sticking together to form sludge. For example, Shell Helix Ultra removes up to five times as much sludge compared with a normal mineral oil (API SG/CD).

Our special lubricant-blending quality programme makes sure that Shell Helix oil’s cleansing and protecting qualities meet the same high standards everywhere in the world. This means that motorists and OEMs can rely on Shell Helix performance wherever they are.

Active clean-up tests

We commissioned extensive tests to prove the cleaning power of Shell Helix oils. The results delighted our scientists. The strictly controlled programme of tests at an independent laboratory revealed that Shell Helix oils rapidly remove sludge from dirty engines. The oils also keep on cleaning the engine components and rendering dirt harmless until it is removed with the oil at the next oil change. This is important, as it prevents sludge removed from one area being deposited elsewhere in the engine.

Standard industry tests only measure an oil’s ability to keep an engine clean. We wanted to show that Shell Helix oils can actually clean a dirty engine by removing sludge. We worked with South West Research Institute, Texas, USA, to develop our own clean-up test, which is much tougher than the industry keep-clean test.

Our test uses the standard industry test (Sequence VG) as a basis, but modifies it by adding oil-change cycles.

A clean V8 engine was run for a long period, approximating to an oil-change interval, using a mineral engine oil. The engine was dismantled at regular intervals to enable the scientists to record the sludge build-up on key engine components, including the rocker cover and the valve decks. This is when a standard industry test would finish.

After this period, when the engine would normally be serviced and the oil would be changed, the mineral oil was drained off and replaced with Shell Helix oil. The test was continued for a similar time, with the engine being dismantled at regular intervals so that the amount of sludge could be recorded.

The test was repeated for different Shell Helix tiers and their counterparts. The results for Shell Helix HX5 are typical: an immediate clean-up effect, and the engine continuing to get cleaner until the end of the test. The cleanliness of the different engine components was recorded, and the same clean-up effect was seen to occur with the change to Shell Helix throughout the engine. This demonstrates that the sludge removed by Shell Helix is not redeposited, but remains in suspension where it is rendered harmless until it is removed at the next oil change.

We also have world-leading engine- and vehicle-testing technology, including 25 chassis dynamometers, 40 test beds with environmental temperature control ranging from –40 to +50°C and more than 300 fleet vehicles. Our highly trained specialists carry out emissions measurement and analysis, and on-site lubricant testing.

Shell Helix tests

To clean and protect an engine, the oil must continue to perform until it is removed when the car is serviced. With some manufacturers recommending longer service intervals, an oil’s ability to stay fit is even more important. Throughout the oil’s life, it has to disperse more and more dirt – keeping it locked away and preventing it from being redeposited in the engine.

Our scientists perform a variety of tests that measure the ability of Shell Helix oils to resist breakdown and disperse dirt. We also test our competitors’ oils, so that we can benchmark our lubricants and demonstrate the benefits of using Shell Helix oils.

Police car trials

We are committed to testing the benefits of Shell Helix oils in the toughest driving environments. Police cars have very severe driving cycles, with long periods idling followed by high-speed pursuits that severely stress the oil.

Shell is working with a police force in the UK. We have invested in four new cars for the police and in return they are allowing us to test Shell Helix Ultra in their gasoline and diesel vehicle fleets.

In an earlier trial, Shell Helix Ultra oil and a major competitor’s engine oil were compared in four Volvo V70 (2.3 L) vehicles: two running on each oil. These cars travelled about 75,000 miles (120,000 km) over three years and had oil changes every 10,000 miles (16,000 km).

Mechanics found that the engines running with Shell Helix Ultra had appreciably cleaner components.

Shell Helix – designed to help clean for Shell’s maximum performance

These tried and tested oils are continuously developed to keep engines in top condition. They’re designed to provide:

  • Better protection by removing deposits from dirty engine parts
  • Cleaner engines by keeping deposits in suspension
  • Improved fuel efficiency and easier cold starting
  • Reduced oil consumption and therefore reduced oil top-ups
  • Smoother, quieter drive

Motoring technology is always developing, with advances such as blow-by-gas recirculation and exhaust aftertreatment technologies placing new stresses on lubricants. That is why we work hard to continually improve the Shell Helix formulations and ensure that they are designed to meet today’s challenges.

The pace of development is at its most intense in top-class motorsport. The Shell–Scuderia Ferrari technical partnership provides us with the extreme environment of Formula One racing for developing and testing our lubricant technology. These developments cascade into our portfolio so that we have oils to meet the demands of all motorists – whatever their driving environments.

Our laboratory and engine tests, and field trials have shown that Shell Helix oils are designed to clean and protect engines better than some leading competitors’ oils. We have also performed customer perception trials to demonstrate that drivers notice the benefits of Shell Helix oils.

The hard work of our scientists has led to a range of Shell Helix products. If you’re using Shell FuelSave Unleaded, an oil change to Shell Helix Ultra E* helps deliver additional fuel savings. Our latest fully synthetic engine oil increases engine efficiency and helps to clean and protect for Shell’s maximum performance. Shell Helix Ultra E also has lighter viscosity, reducing fuel consumption.

* When changing oil from 15W-40 conventional mineral oil to Shell Helix Ultra E.

Shell Helix HX7, another synthetic engine oil, was created to give you up to 19% more protection than other synthetic technology brands tested. Plus, there’s also Shell Helix HX5. It’s up to 20% more effective at removing sludge from dirty engines than normal engine oils.

Discover the Shell Helix range.


Exceeds specifications:
API SH/CF; ACEA A3/B3/B4; BMW LL-01; MB approval 229.5; VW 502 00/503 01/505 00
Compared with a normal mineral oil (API SG/CD)