Engine Oil Specifications and Lubricant Technology

Engine Oil Specifications and Lubricant Technology- Rudy Hiebert

Europe and the United States differ greatly when it comes to setting engine oil specifications. In Europe, vehicle manufacturers play the major role in developing lubricant specifications. Made up of 13 major European truck, bus and car manufacturers, the European Automobile Manufacturers Association, ACEA, publishes its engine oil specifications as ACEA European Oil Sequences. In the U.S. lubricant manufacturers play the major role in developing engine oil specifications. Comprised of more than 400 corporations, the American Petroleum Institute (API) publishes its specifications as API Service Categories.

In the U.S. the American Society of Testing and Materials (ASTM) and it's classification Panels(one for gasoline and one for diesel) set test limits to establish engine oil quality, and each Classification Panel is headed up by a lubricant or additive company.

ACEA specifications are different from API specifications in that OEM's are free to expand on them. "ACEA specs are at the bottom-quality rung for everyone, the baseline." explains John Bennett, WG-FL light-duty truck spokesman. "And yes, there are definitely a lot of quality levels and everyone laments this proliferation." But the nature of the market requires it, at least at the present time. Many OEM's add additional requirements to the ACEA's specifications which then become their own proprietary specifications recommended in their owner's manuals.

In the U.S. ASTM meetings are open to the public and vehicle, additive, and lubricant companies cast votes to determine test limits. However the European ACEA have membership on the light-duty sub-group and our deliberations are not open to others," explains Bennett.

According to Bennett, two main issues facing the ACEA are long drain intervals and better fuel economy with impact or oil aftermarket systems and long term emissions performance also coming into play.

Bengt Otterholm, Volvo lubricants coordinator and spokesman of the ACEA heavy-duty sub-group, believes America's engine oil upgrade process could improve by following ACEA's lead."The key is that here, ACEA -that is, the OEM's own the engine oil language and technical specifications, which we call Sequences. We decide on needs and limits.. After all, it's our vehicles.

"In the U.S., on the other hand, these is a very complex structure, task forces and voting, and you end up with the lowest common-denominator product. In our system you don't end up with the lowest common denominator, that is, with a single quality level. You end up with the highest common denominator. There's one base line but also several higher quality levels."

In the "DirectLine" published by Amsoil Inc. it states that it "sets its sights well past the lowest common denominator" specified by API requirements, exceeding the most stringent world-wide specifications. Amsoil synthetic motor oils are the highest quality lubricants on the market, providing the ultimate in wear protection and performance for drain intervals of up to 35,000 miles or one year whichever comes first." For more information go to http://www.lubedealer.com/hiebert.

Includes excerpts from Amsoil Inc.'s "Directline" bimonthly publication, March 15, 2002 edition.

2008 Cars Need 2008 Lubricants

- Rudy Hiebert

The New Millennium has been upon us for a couple years now and so have the new cars. Car makers are changing with the times in more respects than just satisfying and creating demands for their product’s designs. A car manufacturer is known to roll its product off the assembly line with synthetic in the engine. They are recommending oil changes beyond the traditional five thousand kilometers or three months, whichever comes first. What has made this change possible?


The Magnuson-Moss Act is on the new vehicle owner’s side when it comes to having the answer for the car owner when the topic of oil and oil changes is discussed. Magnuson-Moss legislates dealers in North America to give the engine lubricant free of charge if he demands or threatens to void his client’s new car warranty. If you can get him to put his statement in writing and signed with the author’s name, date, city, company it can be sent to Amsoil Inc.’s legal department for example. Some original equipment manufacturers know that shipping their product with synthetic engine lubricants will keep the new car owner as a valued customer. If the dealer uses superior products in essential components like the engine and drive train he will support a satisfied customer. If a break down occurs and parts and labor are provable to be defective in the manufacturing of the new car, then the warranty claim will have validity. The 2003 car owner should not be dissuaded to think that the synthetic engine oil that meets or exceed SAE and API specifications or has had an extended oil change interval, will void the warranty. An oil analysis will prove whether or not the characteristics and condition of the engine oil is the source of the breakdown. The new car owner should be reminded that an extended oil change interval in itself is not grounds for voiding a warranty.

Another example of legislation, the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, California is looking to pass a bill that circumvents federal authority and gives California state regulators power to limit carbon dioxide emissions from cars and light trucks. With passage of the bill, automakers would be forced to offer different vehicles in California than to the rest of the nation. The bill has already been approved in the House of Representatives, and despite automaker’s opposition, it is expected to be approved by the Senate and signed by Governor Davis. By improving fuel economy and reducing oil consumption, some engine oil manufacturers like Amsoil Inc. motor oils have made significant cuts to automotive emissions.

Lubricant Technology

Oil and lubricant manufacturers are under the scrutiny of governing bodies such as SAE and API. Displaying the starburst symbol on the container seems to be a benchmark but if it is not on the label it does not mean that the contents are inferior. SAE and API use this as minimum parameters for petroleum based lubricants. Comparing one hundred percent synthetics with last century oils is like apples to oranges.

OEM’s are already extending oil change intervals. This has been possible and will soon be common, but will the lubricants and applicable filters keep up with the demands? If the traditional petroleum oils are in the engine and drive train, it is safest to stay within the “old world” traditions and change the oil as often as five thousand km. Or three months, whichever comes first. Many petroleum engine oils are much more sophisticated now than they were in the last generation. These products still contain paraffin and hydrocarbons and fall short in the performance of new cars.

Contemporary oil and air filters will also not withstand the length of time an extended oil change interval demands of an engine. Oil monitoring technology is getting increasingly more sophisticated and should be used as another tool to maintaining the high performance built into a high tech machine as we see on the highways. I'm reminded of Amsoil Inc. Two-stage Air Filters that consist of a courser layer of foam around finer foam laden with foam oil eliminating contaminants to a greater degree than paper or similarly constructed components. Some of these filters that are 'throwaways' cost more that these high quality, high tech after-market car care items.

Fuel consumption and emissions have played a major role in the changing technology in response to legislation. Synthetic lubricants make considerable strides in achieving emissions and fuel consumption benefits. Amsoil Inc. has maintained a position of leadership in the technology, manufacturing and application of products that utilize tests such as Noack Volatility, Four Ball Wear, Wear Scar, Pour Point, Flash/Fire and Total Base Number. It's engine lubricants are one hundred percent synthetic based with the additive package designed to exceed OEM's specifications.

Equipment Design

Do you remember the last time you opened a hood of a new car and looked for parts of the engine that you might recognize? The engine compartment is completely full from front to back and side to side. You wonder how anyone can work in there with it being so crowded with so much stuff. I own a F-150 and can sit on the fender with feet hanging in the engine compartment as I take out the last few spark plugs. Just imagine how little room there is for air circulation. Engines get hot from just driving, and then if the hood is insulated, where is the heat to go? Automatic transmissions need cooling, therefore synthetic ATF gets this job done without adding a transmission cooler. Pulling a trailer up a three-mile incline will make you think of this article and thank your friendly Amsoil Dealer for the suggestion when you see stranded travelers on the side of the road with their hoods up.

Overheating may have its origin in defective engine coolant. This is usually not a problem in a new car because the anti-freeze-coolant is new, however it has its limits as to how long it will maintain its effectiveness. Propylene Glycol is the new, environmentally sound, non-toxic and more effective quality coolant and anti-freeze than ethylene glycol. I have digressed from the topic of engine oils because of the over heating factor that will break down petroleum lubricants.

To bring this to a close, the days of petroleum based engine lubricants is entering its sunset years. Legislation, environment and operation, and maintenance expenses, new engine and equipment designs, synthetic lubricants are part of the changing landscape of the new millennium automobile.

Lubricant viscosity multigrade VS. single gradeviscosity vs temp for Engine Oil Specifications and Lubricant
As you browsed 'Engine Oil Specifications and Lubricant Technology' you may find interest in following articles . . .


I don't believe that you've updated this site since 2003 as the post contains references to '2003' all over it...but:

Are you going to enter the 'With ZDDP' v 'Without ZDDP' oils?

As the newest engines use roller-lifter technology and many still-on-the-road vehicles use flat lifter/tappets cams, what do you see as a problem for wear characteristics and performance with the new legislated 'Eco-Friendly' oils?

Can I use 'car' oil in my motorcycle? The oil industry standards appear to be the same but the cost of 'motorcycle' oil can be double the cost of 'car' oil.

If the motorbike has a wet clutch you need an engine oil that is NOT friction modified and preferably is JASO MA rated: not all car oils fit the bill.

It all depends from type engine in your motorcycle. If you have modern, strong engine (above 150HS (horse power)), you can use fully synthetic car motor oil SAE 5W-30 or
SAE 5W-40, API CI-4/SL.

with so many different types of engines and oil, it can be confusing. i have 2 stroke, 2 stroke outboard, 4 stroke gas, 4 stroke diesel engines. i'm tired of having so many different types of oil with workers mixing wrong oils to engines.

my question... is there one oil that can be used for all engines?

no 2stroke is way different than 4stroke . You never use one oil for both apps . 2 stroke is made to burn..... 4stroke is not.

Post new comment