MOTOR Magazine

A MOTOR Magazine Newsletter
January 9, 2018

Contributed by Bob Chabot
2018 Lubricant Spec Update

Progress is being made on two API SN specification and the ILSAC GF-6 standard

In mid-December 2017, Joan Evans, Industry Liaison Manager at Infineum Americas, updated MOTOR regarding developments for North American passenger car lubricant specifications and standards. In particular, she addressed developments at the American Petroleum Institute (API) and the International Lubricants Standardization and Approval Committee (ILSAC).

New API donut designs for two new supplement specifications scheduled to debut in 2018 have been announced. (All images — Infineum Americas)

Two New API Specifications Coming in 2018
“The big news since our last update was the request from automakers for a supplement to the current API SN engine service category specification, which is intended to increase protection for small displacement, direct injected and turbocharged engines. The supplement incorporates a new LSPI test (Sequence IX) that will be denoted on API donut designs as API SN PLUS or API SN PLUS RC. The new supplemental specifications include tests and limits, symbols to be used, user language, a date for First Allowable Use (FAU) set by API staff, and more.”

“While OEMs would have liked the supplements to become effective on January 1, 2018, there are issues still to be resolved that will impact the timing of the rollout,” she added. “When the API sent out a survey to 60+ members and interested parties to assess readiness before our November meeting, only 11 responses were received."

"Despite the poor response, API drafted a ballot for API SN PLUS and API SN PLUS RC specifications. Specifically, some language was edited, the API donut design for the supplement additions were agreed upon and a ballot called for that closed late December 2017. This timing means any discussion or resolution of negatives will take place early in 2018. The timing, combined with the effort needed to complete the remaining work related to testing, means that First Allowable Use of the specifications is expected no earlier than May 2018.”

Evans provided a list of the outstanding automaker-specific ILSAC GF-6 tests from a document she called the Base Oil Interchange (BOI) – Viscosity Grade Read Across (VGRA) Matrix, (All images — Infineum Americas)

ILSAC GF-6 Continues Toward First Use in 2020
Evans then defined and described progress toward the readiness for each test:

  • Chrysler Sequence IIIH — The Sequence IIIH lab severity task force has been working to address the mild viscosity increase trend seen with Batch 4 pistons. The use of interim guidelines for the Sequence IIIH are still under discussion and it recognized that a delay is needed to allow the new Batch 5 pistons to be evaluated before introduction. There is no consensus on the best route forward for running the BOI/VGRA matrix, so it is on hold until the group can decide on the best course of action. Evans also shared good progress was made on establishing Sequence IIIF to IIIH equivalency limits. Statisticians’ conclusions are now with Category Life Oversight Group (CLOG) members for review and a survey is to be sent to members asking for their position on accepting the proposal for equivalency limits for various API categories.
  • Toyota Sequence IVB — The precision matrix is well underway and is expected to finish in December, with approvals by the Auto/Oil Advisory Panel (AOAP) and the Passenger Car Engine Oil Classification Panel (PCEOCP) targeted for early February 2018. This would enable critical operational and statistical reviews to be in January 2018, allowing the BOI/VGRA matrix to be completed by April or May.
  • Ford Sequence X — In November 2017 the Surveillance Panel recommended the Chain Wear test as a new ASTM International standard, and it now progresses to the AOAP and PCEOCP panels for their endorsement. The test is expected to be ready to start the BOI/VGRA matrices early in 2018.
  • Ford Sequence VH — Data for VH to VG equivalencies were presented to the CLOG. However, with four statistical interpretations in the results, the Surveillance Panel did not agree on a methodology to apply. Because the Sequence VG is still available, the CLOG agreed that this is not an immediate priority, but will continue to look at ways to review the VH to VG equivalency data.
  • General Motors Sequence VIE and Sequence VIF — For the Sequence VIE, the new short engine blocks have been introduced, but the test cannot be used for licensing until limits for meeting preceding ILSAC GF-5 requirements have been established. Limits based on the results of a field oil survey have been proposed and reviewed. API LG will now ballot these limits based upon a CLOG recommendation. In addition, the Sequence VIF test is also included for the SAE 0W-16 grade requirements in the API SN PLUS supplement. A ballot to add Sequence VIF limits of 1.7 FEI2 and 3.8 FEISum to API SN RC and for the new SN PLUS RC supplement closed without dissent.
  • Ford Sequence IX — Table G-5 has been updated to include the Sequence IX at a maximum limit of 5 events for API SN PLUS & API SN PLUS RC. The BOI/VGRA task force firmly believes that this test cannot be equated to any other tests with historical data. It is therefore asking for the BOI/VGRA matrices to be expedited to put a set of rules in place for the introduction of products to meet the new SN PLUS supplement.

Infineum noted that interim press releases regarding test developments and the two supplements would be distributed as they occur in early 2018. In addition, the firm will distribute a follow-up mid-2018 report summarizing progress on lubricant specifications and standards over the first half of 2018.

“With the final test approvals approaching, the most pressing need is to get the BOI/VGRA matrices underway,” Evans noted. “Gaining consensus on how to manage these new tests is essential to allow the ILSAC GF-6 standard to move forward so that the FAU can be firmed up.

In the meantime, the launch date for API SN PLUS & API SN PLUS RC is fast approaching,” she added. “This means stakeholders have a lot of work to do in the next five months to ensure products are available in time. In my view, consumer and industry education will be an important part of this work.”

[Editor's note: Visit for the latest diagnostic and service insights.]

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