Please note this article was published in September 2017 and the facts and opinions expressed may no longer be valid.

North American specification update Sept 2017

Joan Evans, Infineum Americas Industry Liaison Manager, keeps us up to date on developments in the North American lubricant specifications.

Supplemental category ILSAC delivered a letter to API stating the need for protection against Low Speed Pre Ignition (LSPI) for new engines being introduced into the market. Due to the delays to ILSAC GF-6, OEMs are requesting a supplement to the current API SN specification to include an LSPI test to deliver turbocharger protection. API LG agreed to accept and progress this request. While OEMs desire January 1 2018, this date has not been agreed by API LG. ACC and API Oil Marketers need to review the supplement description and timing required for the steps to deliver the API SN Plus supplement - with which ILSAC GF-5 can also be claimed.
No first allowable use date for ILSAC GF-6
AOAP waiting for a clearer picture of test development completion.  
 BOI/VGRA A set of matrix designs has been recommended to establish read across in the Sequence IIIH, IVB, VH, VIE, LSPI and Chain Wear tests.


Significant progress has been made in moving some of the test developments for ILSAC GF-6 forward. However, the seven new tests are at different points in their development paths.

Test Focus area Status of test in industry
Chrysler Seq. IIIH Oxidation & Deposits Available for candidate testing at the time being. Industry concern over mild viscosity increase with batch 4 pistons. Likely delay of BOI/VGRA matrices.
Toyota Seq. IVB Wear Delayed. Precision matrix will start again. Issues with a large number of single lobe failures for ‘candidates’.
Ford Seq. VH Sludge & Varnish Test approved as an ASTM standard. Will likely be retroactively registered from May 4th 2017.
GM Seq. VIE/VIF Fuel Economy Imminent switch to GM short block engines may require changes to engine calibration and engine hour corrections. VIE and VIF limits for ILSAC GF-5 under development and need to be approved.
Seq. VIII Corrosion Available for candidate testing.
Ford LSPI Pre-ignition Test accepted, but new hardware needs to be approved.
Ford Chain Wear Wear Delayed. Additional testing underway with new hardware.

More details on test development progress

Sequence VH

At the joint AOAP/PCEOCP meeting in July, PCEOCP unanimously accepted the Sequence VH test as suitable for measuring the sludge and varnish performance of an engine oil and accepted that the test procedure can be published as an ASTM test method. In addition, AOAP agreed that the test is suitable for inclusion in ILSAC GF-6A and GF-6B. With these agreements in place, the formulation space surrounding this test can now be established.

Chain wear

Progress has been made, but the impact of a move to the 2016 MY engine and pistons still needs to be addressed. A clearer picture will emerge once the results of a six-test matrix are available for review. 


This test will be included in the API SN PLUS supplement. As with the chain wear test, the key need is to approve a controlled batch of hardware. Work that needs to be completed includes establishing the correlation for the new batch of pistons, inclusion of the test into the Code of Practice and running the BOI/VGRA matrix to establish BOI/VGRA guidelines.

The LSPI Task Force also needs to address the issue of retroactive LSPI calibration and test registration, with a pressing need to approve products to meet the new API SN PLUS supplement.

Sequence IVB

The Sequence IVB task force has moved the test forward since the ASTM meeting in late June, with significant changes to the test procedure. These include lowering the sulphur in the fuel to 130 ppm + 10 ppm to reduce the corrosive nature of the test and increasing the initial oil charge level from 2,400 ml to 3,000 ml.  A new prove out matrix will the run by the San Antonio labs, which will hopefully allow the test precision matrix to be run.  The target is now to approve the Sequence IVB test as an ASTM standard by the end of the year.

The Sequence IVB could be the formulation-defining test for ILSAC GF-6. Unfortunately, the fact that it is the last test to be completed puts incredible pressure on the technical demonstration period, which is when additive companies optimise their technology around the new tests and test conditions.

Sequence IIIH

The Sequence IIIH lab severity task force has been working to address the mild viscosity increase trend seen with the batch 4 pistons. A new batch of pistons has been ordered and it is hoped that this will help the Sequence IIIH test to get back on track by November. Time is pressing here with the BOI/VGRA matrix waiting to approve the BOI/VGRA interchange guidelines for the new API SN PLUS supplement.

Sequence VIE and Sequence VIF

Industry will validate that adequate hardware will be available to support the API SN PLUS supplement as well as ILSAC GF-6 for the Sequence VIE and VIF tests. For the Sequence VIE the work to validate the new short blocks is complete for review. However, the test cannot be used for licensing until limits have been established for meeting ILSAC GF-5 requirements; a separate CLOG activity is in place to develop these limits. Validation of the Sequence VIF hardware will be undertaken once the Sequence VIE has been validated.

The Sequence VIF test is also included for the SAE 0W-16grade requirements in the API SN PLUS supplement. CLOG is also evaluating the limits for ILSAC GF-5 and is utilising a designed matrix of oils including available reference data and data from tests voluntarily funded by Oronite and Infineum.

Base oil interchange and viscosity grade read across

The BOI/VGRA task force has recommended a set of matrix designs to establish read across in the Sequence IIIH, IVB, VH, VIE, LSPI and Chain Wear tests to API Lubricants Group and ACC PAP, who are funding the industry work. The designs have met the funding commitment put forward by ACC and API, which includes additional funding from API, as well as from individual ACC and API member companies.

The total cost of the testing is estimated at $5.96 million, not including the funding of donated tests from the laboratories running the tests.

This is by far the most money spent at one time on read across for a new specification, which is a result of the number of new tests being introduced as well as the rising cost of engine tests.

Supplemental category progressing

In August, the API Lubes Group agreed to accept and progress the request for a new supplement to API SN, which would offer LSPI protection without having to wait for the full category upgrade. While OEMs would like the supplement to become effective by January 2018, this date has not been agreed. ACC and API oil marketers need to review the supplement description and assess all the steps needed to deliver it, including finalising the test, establishing BOI/VGRA guidelines, assessing current test availability and agreeing product labelling.

In order to sustain API SN and ILSAC GF-5 (prior to ILSAC GF-6) there is significant work to accomplish. Armed with a detailed list of actions and practical issues that need to be resolved, the stakeholders agreed to report back on what is achievable at the September meeting so that a realistic timeline can be set.

Other North American Specifications

General Motors’ dexos™

With the update to GM’s second-generation dexos1™:2015 specification almost complete, there has been little further activity. As GM approves the new oils they are becoming more widely available. However, as dexos1™:2015 and ILSAC GF-6 sit on different timelines, additive companies and oil marketers must make careful investment decisions.

PSA’s merger with Opel means a level of uncertainty has arisen about the timing for second-generation dexos 2™. Q3 2017 looks likely to be the earliest date that the specification will be finalised and GM says the oil is likely to be available in the US sometime in 2018.

Heavy-duty specifications

The market continues to transition to the new API commercial categories, API CK-4 and API FA-4. At the HDEOCP meeting in June, API gave an update on the licenses filed for both. As expected, the transition to API CK-4 is proceeding quickly, with 525 API CK-4 licensed brands already (for comparison, API CJ-4 had around 1,000 licensed brands).

API FA-4 adoption is proceeding much slower, with only 76 licensed brands as of June. Although progress is slower, Infineum expects that within five years, API FA-4 will be the recommended oil for all major on-highway heavy-duty diesel OEMs.


 ACC American Chemistry Council
 AOAP Auto/Oil Advisory Panel
 API American Petroleum Institute
 API LG API Lubricants Group
 ASTM ASTM International – standard development organisation
 BOI Base Oil Interchange
 CLOG Category Life Oversight Group
 HDEOCP Heavy Duty Engine Oil Classification Panel
 ILSAC International Lubricants Standardization and Advisory Committee
 PAP Petroleum Additives Panel
 PCEOCP Passenger Car Engine Oil Classification Panel
 VGRA Viscosity Grade Read Across

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