GF-6 Timeline Yet to be Settled

PHOENIX - Now that all of its engine tests have been accepted, the countdown has begun for first licensing of the ILSAC GF-6 passenger car motor oil category. It remains to be settled, though, just how long the clock will tick.

Based on protocol, the long-awaited specification should have a 27-month wait before it comes to market, which would put the date in late September or early October 2020. Automakers, however, have urged that the introduction be moved up to April of that year.

At the ASTM Committee D02 meetings here last week, industry insiders said they will attempt to reconcile the six-month discrepancy.

While that delta may seem daunting, Im encouraged that automakers, additive companies, oil marketers, and other interest groups are working so collaboratively at these meetings to alleviate any inefficiencies from the process, and to pursue the greatest good for all stakeholders,Auto Oil Advisory Panel Chairman Josh Frederick said.

Since the final engine test, the Sequence IVB wear test, was accepted into GF-6 in May, three main hurdles must still be cleared on the way to first licensing. First comes the technical demonstration period, when additive companies, working with others in the industry, develop and proof test additive systems designed to meet the new category requirements. Industry rules call for this to last 12 months, but the American Chemistry Council told the Auto Oil Advisory Panel last week that the latter group may essentially consider this period to have already begun.

The technical demonstration period is supposed to be followed by a three-month period for review of engine test data so that final test limits may be set. This is usually straightforward given that much of the data generated during the technical demonstration period has been seen and reviewed on an ongoing basis.

Finally, there is supposed to be a 12-month waiting period after limit setting when oil marketers develop products, prepare labels and promotional literature and resolve other issues.

There is precedent for timelines to be condensed by accelerating one or more of those stages, but the ACC warned that the technical demonstration period could actually take longer than the prescribed 12 months due to potential issues that have to be ironed out. There are some indications that the Sequence IVB test may have a bias toward formulas with calcium-to-magnesium additive ratios greater than 1:1, meaning higher calcium levels and lower magnesium levels produce better results. In contrast, the Sequence IX test reportedly has a preference for calcium-to-magnesium ratios of less than 1:1, or more magnesium and less calcium. This situation will need to be clarified and resolved.

The Sequence IVB also still has details to be finalized, including an analytical test procedure to measure iron wear at the end of the test. A final definition of cam lobe failure also needs to be set, and a test validity definition for oil consumption must be crafted.

Development of the Sequence IVB began in early 2015 and dragged on partly because of a change in hardware. The Sequence IVB replaces the Sequence IVA, which ran on a Nissan engine, but the IVB runs on a Toyota engine. The change in engines required the test to be redeveloped because the architecture and metallurgy of the two engines were different. Several different test matrices were run on proposed procedures before the current, successful version was chosen.