Thumbs Up for SAE 16 Vis Grade


SAE International has fully approved a new viscosity grade. SAE 16 will take its place this spring in the SAE J300 Standard as a lighter-weight alternative to SAE 20 and other non-winter engine oil grades.

The SAE J300 Engine Oil Viscosity Classification Task Force agreed on the limits for the new grade last summer, according to Mike Covitch of Lubrizol, who chairs the task force. SAE 16 then was balloted through SAE Technical Committee 1 on Engine Oils, and recently advanced to full approval, he advises.

Get alerts when new Sustainability Blog articles are available.


The new grade’s kinematic viscosity limits were set at 6.1 mm2/s minimum to <8.2 mm2/s maximum, at 100 degrees C. Its minimum high-temperature high-shear rate viscosity is 2.3 mPasec at 150 C. These limits got the official nod from the SAE Fuels & Lubricants Council, which is headed by Jim Linden of General Motors, at its Dec. 5 meeting in Norfolk, Va.

As well, Covitch pointed out, the updated SAE J300 standard will require tweaking the kinematic viscosity limit at 100 C for SAE 20 engine oils. The current minimum KV100 limit for SAE xW-20 oils is 5.6 mm2/s, but that will rise to 6.9 mm2/s when the revised standard is published in April.

SAE staff were asked to set an early April 2013 publication date for the new version of SAE J300, to give other industry committees — such as the American Petroleum Institute, the International Lubricants Specification and Approval Committee (ILSAC), the European Automobile Manufacturers Association (ACEA) and the technical association for the European oil industry (ATIEL) — time to revise their stay-in-grade requirements for SAE xW-20 oils, if they wish to do so.

The concern, explained Covitch, is that some current SAE xW-20 oils on the market might shear out-of-grade according to the new J300’s limits, whereas they were classified as stay-in-grade under the old standard. Although SAE J300 is a new-oil viscosity classification standard, the EOVC is aware that J300 is also used to characterize a lubricant’s suitability for continued use during service.

Covitch said API, ACEA and others who set engine oil specifications have the option of retaining the current 5.6 mm2/s minimum KV100 for stay-in-grade viscosity if they wish, but the new-oil minimum for SAE xW-20 will be 6.9 mm2/s as of April 2013.

Organizationally, the EOVC task force is part of SAE TC-1, the forum where all ballots to revise J300 are conducted. Passing ballots next are balloted at the Fuels & Lubricants Council level. Passing the F&LC ballot is the final stage for approval of a new revision to SAE Standards under its jurisdiction.

The new SAE 16 grade is expected to have minimum impact on the North American engine oil market, since it is being specified by only one automaker (Honda) for 2013 model year engines. Honda says tests show that its current design engines can gain fuel economy benefits and maintain adequate durability from oils with viscosity grades lower than SAE 0W-20.