Engine Test Problem Triggers Provisional Licensing


Engine Test Problem Triggers Provisional Licensing
Engine oil being poured into a car's crankcase during an oil change. © REDPIXEL.PL

The American Petroleum Institute announced that an engine sequence test included in most active North American passenger car motor oil specifications is on hold and that the organization has invoked provisional licensing so formulations yet to take the test can still temporarily qualify as compliant.

The ASTM D6709 Sequence VIII test measures weight loss of copper bearings and oil viscosity loss due to mechanical shear. It’s an older test that is part of the performance requirements for ILSAC GF-6A and API SP, SN, SM, SL, or SJ.

“ASTM D02.B0.01 Sequence VIII Surveillance Panel has reported that the [test] is currently out of control and not available at independent laboratories,” explained Jeffrey Harmening, senior manager for the Engine Oil Licensing and Certification System, Diesel Exhaust Fluid Certification and Motor Oil Matters programs with API.

“The labs are not currently able to calibrate the stands due to a severity trend that has not yet been resolved,” Harmening told Lube Report. “The severity trend is regarding bearing weight loss and is running outside of acceptable ranges on the severe side. Currently the root cause of the severity is unknown, and the Surveillance Panel is meeting regularly to evaluate possible causes.”

Harmening added that the timing for resolution is indefinite and additional follow-up is expected from the Surveillance Panel chair as it investigates.

New engine oils can still be licensed without this test for as long as it isn’t available. To get a provisional license, companies “must be able to provide data that support the performance of the candidate formulation in the Sequence VIII test,” API said in a Feb. 27 announcement. A company would provide some manner of engine test data for their formulation which assures that their product would pass the test.

“Without meeting this technical hurdle, API will not approve the provisional license,”  Harmening said.

Once the problem is fixed, API will withdraw the provisional licensing declaration, and any formulation approved during the provisional period must complete the Sequence VIII within six months to gain normal approval from API.

If a provisionally licensed formulation does not pass the test, the Sequence VIII, the licensee must inform API and take any corrective action API deems necessary, including product recall.

“In the unlikely event that a marketer is unable to obtain a passing result within the six-month time frame, API will cancel the provisional license for that formulation and require that the marketer not only discontinue marketing of the formulation but remove the failing formulation from the marketplace,” Harmening explained. ASTM D6709 caused such a step once before. In 2016, API halted the test and invoked provisional licensing due to a shortage in connecting rod bearings. In that instance, provisional licensing lasted from mid-April to mid-August, said Harmening.