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Lubricant specifications are here to help.

Amsoil Tech Guru

Use Lubricant Specifications To Your Advantage

 

Amsoil Tech Guru

Matt Erickson | DIRECTOR, TECHNICAL PRODUCT MANAGEMENT

Specs can be confusing if you miss these three points.

Let’s step back in time for a minute. It’s the 1920s. You’re cruising around town in your Ford* Model A or maybe your Nash* Advanced Six Coupe. You’re off to the theater to see the latest Charlie Chaplin picture. Life is good.

But your car needs motor oil. How can you be sure of the oil’s performance? Will it provide the quality needed to keep your engine humming?

This dilemma is why we have motor oil specifications today. Back then, there was no telling what motorists were getting in each can of oil they purchased. One oil might offer good engine protection while another solidified in the cold, evaporated in the presence of heat and delivered all around poor performance. The industry quickly realized the need for a simple way to assure motorists the oil they were buying wouldn’t ruin their engines.

Setting The Most Basic Standard – The API

Eventually, the American Petroleum Institute (API) introduced its first gasoline motor oil performance specification – API SA. Motorists could look for oils recommended for the API SA specification and know that they were safe to use in vehicles built in 1930 and earlier. Soon, the API SB specification was introduced to supersede the previous specification. Fast forward several decades and now API SN PLUS is the current gasoline motor oil specification, with API SP/ILSAC GF-6 set to be introduced next May.

Side Note: There are still marketers selling SA and SB rated oils which will destroy your engine – Amalie is being sued for selling a product line through Dollar stores. So watch out!! These specifications including the latest are “LOW” minimums.

Today, the market is loaded with lubricant specifications, which is one reason many motorists don’t understand them. In addition to API, there’s ILSAC, ACEA and JASO specifications. And don’t forget the dozens of specifications published by the automakers themselves, like GM* dexos® 1 Gen 2 or Chrysler* MS-6395. Plus, we have several transmission fluid specifications, like MERCON* LV and DEXRON* III.

Clear as mud, right?

Understanding lubricant performance specifications isn’t that difficult if you identify a few key points.

1) A lubricant performance specification is a set of minimum performance standards.

Say you turn to the back of your owner’s manual and see that the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) recommends using a 5W-20 motor oil rated for API SN PLUS. That means you can safely use any 5W-20 motor oil recommended for API SN PLUS. To earn that designation, the oil must demonstrate a minimum level of performance in a range of motor oil bench and engine tests. These tests are designed to screen for wear protection, stability in the presence of heat, engine cleanliness and more. These standards usually set the minimum performance standard for conventional oils, which is a pretty low bar. That means two lubricants recommended for the same specification (API SN PLUS, for example) do not necessarily provide equal performance and protection. Lubricants meeting the specification requirements have only met the minimum performance requirements, leaving room for significant differences in performance.

2) Many OEMs publish their own motor oil performance specifications.

For decades, API and other industry lubricant specifications were the only game in town. Some 3rd parties called it “The lowest Common Denominator”. This kept things relatively simple. Then, General Motors* introduced its GM dexos 1 spec in 2011, further confusing things for consumers. An OEM might determine its engines require oil that offers better performance in certain areas than required by industry specifications, hence the need for its own specification. European OEMs have been doing this for years. Thus European labeled oils…

3) Specifications aren’t the same as brands.

You might hear owners of GM vehicles say that they need to use “dexos oil” in their engines. There’s no such thing as a brand of oil named “dexos.” What the driver means to say is he or she needs to use an oil that is made for the GM dexos specification. This is a key difference because they might falsely think they have to use the OEM-branded fluid to maintain their warranty when they can, in fact, use any oil recommended for the dexos spec.

Lubricant specifications are designed to help motorists, but at the end of the day they’re just recommendations. The Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act guarantees you the freedom to choose whichever oil you think is best for your vehicles and equipment. An OEM cannot deny warranty coverage simply based on the oil you use. For the record, AMSOIL recommends consulting your owner’s manual for the recommended viscosity and oil specifications and using an oil that lists those on its label.

Note!! This does not apply in Canada. AMSOIL is working to create a Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act in each providence to protect Canadians as their American counterparts enjoy.

Profits are with set minimums (Specifications) – Performance exists when they are enhanced further

This is where AMSOIL stands apart from all other products which can be sorted into two additional categories.

Lubricant specifications also simply set minimum performance requirements. We’re not satisfied with “minimum” performance here. That’s why customers who want the best protection should use AMSOIL instead of just any old oil recommended for their vehicles. For proof of how AMSOIL products exceed the toughest specifications, visit www.amsoil.com/performancetests.aspx

ADVANCED ENGINE TECHNOLOGY DRIVING CHANGES FOR GASOLINE OIL SPECIFICATIONS

Fuel economy standards

ADVANCED ENGINE TECHNOLOGY DRIVING CHANGES FOR GASOLINE OIL SPECIFICATIONS

Tightening fuel economy standards and the subsequent advances in engine technologies are pushing big changes in the passenger car motor oil (PCMO) market.

Increasingly strict regulations on fuel economy and emissions have pushed the automotive industry to develop smaller, more efficient engines. By 2020, industry experts predict that nearly every new vehicle will feature direct-injection technology (GDI), and the vast majority will be turbocharged (TGDI). The most recent corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) standards require a fleet-wide average of 54.5 mpg by 2025 in the United States, necessitating a 5 percent annual improvement.

These factors contribute to the following:

  •  Severe engine knock, also called lowspeed pre-ignition (LSPI)
  •  Increased engine temperatures • Compromised fuel injectors
  •  Greater overall stress and dependence on engine oil

Two new gasoline engine oil specifications are in development to address these issues: General Motors’ (GM)* proprietary dexos1™: 2015 and API SP/ILSAC GF-6.

Controlling LSPI

Both specifications place a major focus on limiting the impact of low-speed pre-ignition (LSPI). This will be an essential feature of engine oil in the coming years. Similar to traditional engine knock, LSPI occurs when fuel/air spontaneously ignites prior to the spark ignition. The pressure created by this ill-timed combustion pushes down on the piston as the connecting rod and crankshaft work to move it upward. These conflicting forces can result in severe engine damage beyond that of typical engine knock. LSPI is an issue unique to newer turbocharged and GDI engines and occurs under low-speed and high-torque conditions. However, a properly formulated motor oil can prevent its effects.

Key Updates

dexos1™: 2015

GM’s second-generation dexos1 specification is a global specification that aims to standardize the quality of oil installed in GM vehicles regardless of location. Similar to the GF-6 specification, dexos1: 2015 will address fuel economy and LSPI. It will also include new tests unique to GM focused on oxidative thickening, piston deposits, turbocharger deposits and wear control. It is due to be released in late August 2017.

  • Designed for 2011 model-year and newer engines
  • Targets higher levels of performance in all areas

NEW DEXOS1: 2015 & ILSAC GF-6 SPECIFICATIONS

  • Low speed pre-ignition protection preventing severe engine damage
  • Added piston deposit prevention for fuel economy and horsepower retention
  • Improved turbocharger protection to prevent turbocoking and increase longevity
  • Increased wear protection for maintaining like-new performance
  • Increased sludge protection for cleaner engines

ILSAC GF-6

Replacing the ILSAC GF-5 specification, the primary focus of ILSAC GF-6 will be increased fuel economy, oil robustness and protecting GDI and TGDI engines from LSPI and timing-chain wear. The spec will be split into GF-6A and GF- 6B to accommodate the trend toward lower-viscosity oils. GF-6B will provide a new category of oil designed for newer vehicles that require low hightemperature/high-shear (HTHS) and viscosities of 0W-20 or less. GF-6 is expected to be released in mid-2019.

  • GF-6A is designed for current modelyear engines and older requiring a traditional viscosity oil
  • GF-6B is designed for newer engines requiring lower viscosity oil

API/ILSAC

The International Lubricant Standardization Approval Committee (ILSAC) is a partnership between U.S. and Japanese automobile manufacturers. ILSAC and the American Petroleum Institute (API) work in tandem to develop engine protection standards and fuel economy requirements. Oils displaying the API Certification Mark, or “Starburst,” meet these requirements.

New Testing

As new requirements are revealed and the technology evolves, many standardized engine tests are being overhauled or replaced. GF-6 will feature at least six new engine tests while dexos1: 2015 will gain five. The tests encompass issues from low-temperature valvetrain wear (GF-6) to turbocharger deposits (dexos1: 2015).

AMSOIL Prepared for Change

AMSOIL Dealers can be well-assured that we will be ready for the implementation of the new specs with top-performing synthetic formulations. Details will be unveiled in upcoming issues of AMSOIL Magazine.