API Adopts SAE 0W-8 and SAE 0W-12

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API Adopts SAE 0W-8 and SAE 0W-12
Engine oil poured into a crankcase. © Drazen Zigic

The American Petroleum Institute on Thursday adopted SAE 0W-8 and 0W-12 viscosity grades into service category API SP, extending the bottom range of potential vis grades for North America’s newest passenger car motor oil specification.

The action, which came after a ballot on the two grades passed a Sept. 19 ballot, is part of a long-term global trend toward lighter PCMOs, but some industry insiders predict 0W-8 and 0W-12 will never become as popular as predecessor grades and that they could be the final steps in the long march.

Washington, D.C.-based API said this week’s action was important because car makers want lower-viscosity engine oils to help with the push to improve fuel economy and that adding the light grades to API SP establishes recognized rule for oil marketers wanting to promote 0W-8 and 0W-12 products as meeting North America’s latest performance specification.

“These engine oil viscosity grades are currently recommended by some global original equipment manufacturers,” the Washington, D.C.-based organization said in a news release, “and this update will provide OEMs the ability to recommend API-licensed oils, assisting consumers in finding engine oils recommended by their vehicle manufacturer, especially in North America.”

API SP already covers 10W-30, 5W-30, 5W-20, 0W-30 and 0W-20, which were included when it was adopted in 2019, and 0W-16, which was added in 20__. Some of those earlier grades became the most popular in the market after being adopted into past ILSAC and API performance specifications. 10W-30 oils supplanted 10W-40s in the late 1980s and were in turn supplanted by 5W-30 products two decades later. 5W-20 oils are now gaining on 5W-30s.

Some lubricant industry insiders predict 0W-12 and -8 will never achieve such popularity and will instead be niche products. For one thing, automaker members of the International Lubricant Specification and Approval Committee have declined to add the grades to their latest performance specifications, ILSAC GF-6A and GF-6B, which were companions to API SP. In addition, Japanese automakers who pioneered 0W multigrades previously incorporated 0W-8 and -12 into their JASO specifications but have so far recommended them only in a few vehicles and primarily in Japan.