By Craig Paterson
Vice President, Product Management
On the lubricant industry’s target date of May 1, engine oil packaging began to look a little different.
That’s because the American Petroleum Institute’s (API’s) SN Plus supplement went into effect, necessitating that all International Lubricants Standardization and Approval Committee. A collaboration between the American Automobile Manufacturers Association (AAMA), Chrysler, Ford, GM, and the Japanese Automotive Standards Organization. ILSAC GF- engine oil specifications target fuel economy, emission system protection, and enhanced engine oil robustness. GF-5 licensed engine oil properly protects against Uncontrolled combustion that takes place in the combustion chamber prior to spark in gasoline direct injection (GDI) engines. Also known as LSPI. (Low-Speed Pre-Ignition. Uncontrolled combustion that takes place in the combustion chamber prior to spark in gasoline direct injection (GDI) engines.), a severe engine performance issue that affects gasoline direct injected (GDI) and turbocharged GDI (T/GDI) engines.
Shops, fleets and oil servicers must be aware and educated on this issue—it’s a significant industry change and it highlights exactly why the right lubricant is so important.
Here’s a quick breakdown:
By 2024, it’s expected that vehicles equipped with T/GDI engines will make up 83 percent of the U.S. vehicle population. That’s the majority of cars coming through your doors for regular oil service.
Those T/GDI engines are uniquely at risk for LSPI, a form of abnormal engine combustion that can cause serious damage. Under everyday driving conditions, the issue often goes undetected until it’s too late.
Luckily, the right engine oil can stop LSPI from happening.
Car manufacturers explicitly sought the help of the lubricant industry to help solve this challenge. LSPI is taking perfectly good cars off the road, leading to frustrated drivers and premature catastrophic events.
And that’s where American Petroleum Institute. The primary oil and natural gas trade association in the United States. API operates a voluntary licensing and certification program that allows engine oil marketers to use the API Engine Oil Quality Marks if their products meet specific requirements. SN Plus comes in. Last year, major OEMs made a collective emergency request for available lubricants that would help protect against LSPI. The request sought a supplement to the existing ILSAC GF-5 standard, in order to bring new lubricants to market that met this critical requirement.
What’s Happening with ILSAC GF-6?
Under the industry’s initial plan of attack, LSPI was originally meant to be tackled through the licensing of ILSAC GF-6, the next engine oil specification to replace the existing ILSAC GF-5. Numerous challenges have stretched that timeline far beyond initial expectations, however, prompting the necessity of the API SN Plus supplement.
The issue? Engine tests. In order to ensure the longevity and relevance of ILSAC GF-6, seven brand new engine tests (including one for LSPI performance) have been incorporated into the spec, and development and agreement upon testing limits has been a significant source of the delay.
But LSPI proved a more pressing and significant issue than originally anticipated. And our industry can’t drag its feet on solutions.
As of May 1, the API “donut” officially certified an engine oil’s ability to prevent LSPI. However, LSPI-preventing lubricants have already hit the market, as API allowed oil providers to label their products with LSPI claims if they’ve demonstrated proven performance.
Our view: At the end of the day, the choice of the lubricant remains with everyday drivers. But it’s the responsibility of professionals in our industry to communicate the risks of choosing lesser oils that don’t offer comprehensive protection.
An effective message is this: Modern engine technology requires advanced lubricant technology. We’re encouraging shops to stock engine oils that protect against LSPI in preparation for the growing number of T/GDI engines on the road.
Check the labels. Ask your distributors for lubricants that satisfy this important demand. And communicate to your customers the consequences of selecting anything less.