The automobile and lubricant industries spend lots of time and money developing new specifications for automotive engine oils, but countless vehicles around the world still run on oils qualified against older specs.
The industries are working to ensure that those older specs can continue to be used by rehabilitating aging engine tests.
Since last year, ASTMs Category Life Optimization Group has been working to replace or shore up eight engine tests affecting half a dozen categories for passenger car and heavy-duty diesel engine oils. At the ASTM meeting in Phoenix last month, CLOG representatives reported that they have finished work on four of those tests and are making progress on most of the others.
The tests affect five passenger car engine oil categories – API SJ, SL, SM, SN and ILSAC GF-5 – plus the resource conserving versions of those same categories. Three heavy-duty diesel engine oil categories are also at risk: API CH-4, CI-4 and CJ-4.
These categories are currently active and represent an important part of the global marketplace. They are still specified for older equipment and are used heavily in developing countries such as those in Africa and South America. Their continuing availability will be at significant risk, industry representatives recognized last year, if alternate tests and equivalent limits were not developed.
Perhaps the most urgent situation involves the Sequence IIIF and Sequence IIIG tests. All of the categories listed above require one of these two tests, but the tests are either no longer available or will be unavailable soon. CLOG sought to solve the problem by adapting a newer test, the Sequence IIIH by finding limits that would be equivalent to the old requirements set for the IIIF and IIIG.
Work to find Sequence IIIH limits for heavy duty categories appears to be finished. A ballot for their adoption was prepared for ASTMs D02 Committee on Lubricants and Petroleum Products, but it turned out to contain a typographical error. CLOG expects a corrected ballot to be voted on at D02s December meeting in Atlanta.
The passenger car test limits are not yet set. The American Petroleum Institute has proposed shorter versions of the Sequence IIIH duration prescribed for ILSAC GF-6 – the category for which it was developed. API is now testing the shorter version of the test, and CLOG plans to propose new limits once that work is done. The group expects this test will also be presented for ballot at the December meeting.
The IIIG test stand has also been used to run the Sequence IIIGA and IIIGB tests for used oil viscosity and phosphorus retention. Those tests are being replaced by the ROBO and IIIHB tests, respectively. CLOG has finished its work on those tests, and they have been reviewed and balloted by ASTM.
The Sequence VID fuel economy test is required for resource conserving versions of passenger car oil categories as well as GF-5. Two replacement tests – the Sequence VIF for low-viscosity (SAE XW-16) oils and the Sequence VIE for all others – have been developed and are in place. Both tests are established, and limits have been set to cover the GF-5 and resource conserving categories.
The Sequence IVA is the valve train wear test for passenger car categories and GF-5. It has about four years of availability left, so there is no rush to develop equivalency with the Sequence IVB test that is part of GF6 and API SP, and for which limits are now being developed.
The Sequence VG engine deposits test has been replaced by the Sequence VH for API SN and GF-5. A set of VH limits for earlier categories was established using the limits from the VG. CLOG expects all work on this test to be completed soon.
In the case of the Engine Oil Aeration Test, the limits for earlier heavy duty categories will be set based on the new Caterpillar Oil Aeration Test. However, the COAT is not yielding satisfactory results and requires more work. Equipment for the EOAT is expected to run out during the fourth quarter of this year, so an alternative solution is urgently needed. CLOG was unable to estimate a timetable.