ACEA Releases Updated Oil Sequences

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ACEA Releases Updated Oil Sequences
A line of modern car engines at a factory. ACEA last week published its 2021 European Oil Sequences for light-duty engines, replacing the 2016 version. © Hamik

The European Automobile Manufacturers Association published a long-awaited update to its passenger car engine oil specifications on April 30 – more than two years after the changes were originally scheduled to be adopted. The association implemented the new specs immediately, declaring that licensing for them could begin the following day, on May 1.

The update did not include new requirements for heavy-duty diesel engine oils, as it normally would, as the organization still has not finished working on them.

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The update does represent a significant change on the passenger car side, introducing two new categories that focus on low-speed pre-ignition and wear protection for turbocharged direct injection engines, along with five new engine tests.

The 2021 ACEA European Oil Sequences for light-duty engines replaces the 2016 version and was motivated by regulatory and performance needs, complemented by necessary test maintenance requirements. For now lubricant companies may still market oils meeting the 2016 specs, as well as the new version, but from May 1 2022 onwards, the 2021 ACEA light-duty oil sequences will be mandatory for all new claims.

ACEA noted that the main light-duty engine technologies today are gasoline and diesel direct injection turbocharged engines, complemented by stop-start strategies, hybrid and electric technology. “Consequently, ACEA members that manufacture light-duty vehicles are introducing new engine tests in two new engine oil categories to ensure base protection and performance for modern engine hardware,” the association stated.

The ACEA sequences are industry standards developed by the association’s 15 automaker members working in cooperation with representatives of the lubricant, chemical additive and engine testing industries. Some original equipment manufacturers selling vehicles in Europe advise customers to use engine oils that meet the ACEA sequences, while others develop their own specs, usually based on ACEA sequences with additional requirements.

Sulfated ash, phosphorus and sulfur levels are foci of the two new categories. These substances, referred to collectively as SAPS, have traditionally been popular lubricant additives but can compromise emissions control systems used in modern vehicles. The A/B category covers oils that are used gasoline- and diesel-powered vehicles and that contain high levels of SAPS. C sequences are for gasoline and diesel oils with low levels of SAPS.

The first new category, High SAPS A7/B7-21, offers low speed pre-ignition and wear protection for turbocharged, direct injection gasoline engines as well as turbocharger compressor deposit protection for modern direct injection diesel engines.  The second new category, C6-21 was created specially for SAE 0W-20 oils – low-viscosity fluids intended to help boost fuel economy – that provide low-speed pre-ignition and wear protection for turbocharged direct injection engines as well as diesel turbocharger compressor deposit protection for low SAPS products compatible with after treatment systems such as selective catalytic reduction and gasoline or diesel particulate filters.

The 2021 ACEA light-duty oil sequences contain five new tests and one successor test, while deleting two engine tests. Three of the new tests are ASTM tests from the American Petroleum Institute and International Lubricants Standardization and Advisory Committee.

ASTM D83350 (Sequence IV Toyota 2NR-FE) measures valve train wear and replaces the CEC L-038-94 test to support wear protection. The test applies to all categories.

ASTM D829-19 (Sequence IX, Ford) measures turbocharger compressor deposits in diesel engines, and is designed to avoid TCC Deposit formation in the fleet and enable diesel engine efficiency increase. The test applies to Category A7/B7 and C6. Both categories are engine oils intended for use at extended oil drain intervals in passenger car gasoline and light-duty gasoline and direct injection diesel engines. Category A7/B7 also stipulates it is for use in engines designed for low viscosity engine oils with high temperature, high shear viscosity limits of 2.9 to 3.5 mPa.  C6 also stipulates it is with mid-level SAPS, for aftertreatment system compatibility and that it is for use in engines designed and OEM-approved for engine oils with HTHS viscosity of at least 2.6 mPa.

ASTM D8279-19 (Sequence X, Ford test) measures chain wear in gasoline direct injection engines and is intended to ensure wear protection of the gasoline direct injection camshaft drive chain. It applies to categories A7/B7 and C6 as well.

CEC L-114-19 (Toyota 1KD-FTV) tests for turbocharger compressor deposits in diesel engines, with the goal of avoiding TCC deposit formation in the fleet and enabling diesel engine efficiency increase.

The CEC L-117-20 (VW TDI) tests for direct injection diesel piston cleanliness and ring sticking, succeeding test CEC-L-078-99. It applies to all categories.

The deleted tests – dropped due to hardware availability concerns – include one testing for diesel engine wear and another on the effects of bio-diesel.

The association explained that because the heavy-duty oil sequences are not at the same stage of readiness, it has decided to split the light-duty and heavy-duty sequences into two separate documents. Both will be directly linked with a general requirements document addressing issues common to both sequences. ACEA said it expects to publish the ACEA heavy-duty oil sequences – which will replace the updated 2016 version – no earlier than June 2021.

ACEA originally intended to adopt 2018 oil sequences before the end of 2018. In 2019, ACEA’s heavy-duty diesel chairman told the Uniti Mineral Oil Technology Congress in Germany that the 2018 engine oil sequences would be delayed until at least mid-2020. To download the ACEA Engine Oil Sequences 2016 document and access the ACEA Engine Oil Registration page, visit the ACEA website.