Mexican Standard Modernizes Requirements


Mexican Standard Modernizes Requirements
A mechanic changes the engine oil for a truck in Monterrey , Mexico. © Monica Garza 73 /

Mexico’s new engine oils standard launched in mid-June introduced test methods and technical requirements to help ensure the country’s engine oils meet the needs of modern engines, an industry insider said at an online event earlier this month.

The Mexican government created the standard, NOM 116-SCFI-2018, in November 2018. Officially implemented on June 16 this year, it increases the formality of the Mexican lubricant market by defining test methods and implementing audits, controls and document review for heavy-duty and passenger car motor oils. The standard was designed to be similar to the American Petroleum Institute’s specifications and utilizes ASTM test methods, Areli Velazquez, research and development chief for Lubricantes de Americas S.A., said at the ICIS Pan American Base Oils & Lubricants Virtual Conference earlier this month.

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In addition to conforming to certain technical requirements such as phosphorous content and apparent viscosity at low temperatures, compliant engine oils must also reduce volatility, have no impact on after-treatment devices and extend drain intervals, said Velazquez.

To get certified under the regulation, a product must be currently licensed by the API, the European Automobile Manufacturers Association or an original equipment manufacturer, meet all labeling requirements and be accompanied by a “manufacturer responsible letter.” Oils not meeting these criteria can be certified by passing an eight-test laboratory report and meeting all labeling requirements. They must also be accompanied by a letter of support from the additive manufacturer and a manufacturer responsible letter, said Velazquez.

After a certificate of compliance is earned, it is valid for up to three years.

To meet the labeling requirements associated with Mexico’s standard, product labels must be in Spanish, be legible and easily understandable, and include information such as the product name, viscosity grade, service category and net volume.

The methods used to certify compliant oils are ASTMs tests for kinematic viscosity, viscosity index, cold cranking performance, Noack volatility, foaming tendencies, base number and phosphorous.

Mirroring other regions of the world, older and obsolete lubricants coexist in Mexico with the latest specifications, according to Ward Automotive. As of January of this year, about 60 percent of passenger cars in Mexico used oils that meet API SN or API SM specifications, while approximately 27 percent use API SJ and API SL oils. About 3 percent use API SH and SF, which API has declared obsolete.

NOM 116-SCFI-2018 created Mexican categories that correspond to API specifications. For gasoline-powered vehicles, those categories range from GJ, which covers vehicle model years 2001 and older, to GN, which covers the latest model years. The API equivalents are SJ through SN. The proposed diesel categories are DF, DF-2, DF-4, DG-4, DH-4, DI-4, DI-4 Plus, DJ-4, DK-4 and DFA-4, aligning with APIs CF, CF-2, CF-4, CG-4, CH-4, CJ-4, CK-4 and FA-4. API has declared CG-4 and earlier categories obsolete. Mexico’s proposal would eliminate obsolete specs after three years, at which point API CH-4 would become the minimum diesel spec.

Under the regulation, API categories considered obsolete – CF. CF-2, CF-4 and CG-4 – can be manufactured in the country until June 16, 2021. Other obsolete categories such as DF, DF-2, DF-4 and DG-4 cannot be manufactured or marketed in the country after June 16, 2023.