GF-6 Takes Major Step Forward

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The Sequence IVB wear test was accepted into ILSAC GF-6 on May 10 despite lingering concerns about its validity. The action by the Auto/Oil Advisory Panel removed one of the last major hurdles for the long-delayed passenger car engine oil specification upgrade, setting it on track to come to market around the second quarter of 2020.

This months vote was the Sequence IVBs second before AOAP. In April members of the lubricant industry rebuffed urgings by automakers to move forward with the test, contending that it does not adequately distinguish between engine oils that provide adequate wear protection and those that do not – at least not in its current form.

At the most recent meeting, automaker representatives again voted unanimously to accept the test into the GF-6 specification – 11 yes votes to 0 nays or waives, one member not voting. On the oil side, there were 13 yes votes, 0 nays, but 8 waives, and five members did not vote. The result is narrow passage of the vote. For a motion to pass, at least 50 percent of members from either stakeholder must vote yes, and in this case, there were exactly that many on the oil side. Any negative votes would have also forced a paper ballot for the vote to be become official and negative concerns to be addressed.

In April, the oil side cast 5 affirmative votes, 7 nays and had 11 abstentions. The Sequence IVB was designed to gauge an oils ability to protect components by measuring volumes of wear on intake valves after 200 hours of operation in a Toyota 2NRFE 1.5-liter fuel-injected engine. During test development testing, though, reference oils known to not provide sufficient protection still passed. International Lubricant Standardization and Approval Committee members said the industries will continue developing the Sequence IVB until its shortcomings are addressed.

The official motion at the May AOAP meeting stated, The Toyota Wear Test (Sequence IVB) is suitable for use in the GF-6 category.The final IVB limits for the GF-6 category will be determined collaboratively by all stakeholders at the conclusion of the Technical Demonstration period after a thorough review of all available data.

Although the Sequence IVB was accepted, there is still much work to be done to determine pass-fail criteria. This includes officially evaluating the idea of measuring iron content in used oil post-test to gauge overall engine wear, as opposed to measuring just average intake valve wear. Proponents say an overall approach to wear protection should help ensure that older hardware is protected.

The surveillance panel has also decided to update two of the reference oils to API SN Plus and GF-6 type chemistry. This was done to ensure that reference oils would represent the type of chemistries that are expected to be seen in the future and will also be evaluated during BOI/VGRA work. The final step will be to accept the test into the American Chemistry Council code of practice. Although the major additive companies waived on acceptance of the test, it appears that the surveillance panel made enough progress that the sequence IVB concerns will be resolved and ACC will accept the test.

The panel began discussing official test registration for the IVB and raised questions about making registration retroactive in order to shorten the time until the category may be brought to market.

Acceptance of the Sequence IVB sets the stage to finalize timing for ILSAC GF-6. Current planning calls for a 12-month technology demonstration period and a 12-month mandatory waiting period allowing all oil marketers to get equal access to the new technology. It is possible to shorten the tech demo period and mandatory waiting period to improve timing for first allowable use of GF-6, but it is unclear whether than can be done given the time it will likely take to manage issues around the Sequence IVB. Given all the work being done on BOI/VGRA, there is a higher likelihood that the mandatory waiting period can be shortened by perhaps three months. This has happened in the past. At the June ASTM meeting, it is expected that industry will focus on the key issues allowing the tech demo period to begin and define all test parameters that need to be evaluated during the next phase of ILSAC GF-6 specification development.

The industries have been working on GF-6 since 2012 and originally intended it to be brought to market by 2016.

The panel also confirmed it will break GF-6 into two categories – GF-6A for legacy viscosity grades and GF-6B for SAE 0W-16 – that will move forward as separate specifications. The latter will have a new starburst symbol to distinguish itself from GF-6A, and API will begin trademark assessment efforts.

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