API Chewing On Automakers’ Demands


The American Petroleum Institute holds its regularly scheduled spring Lubricants Committee meeting today in Houston. Two agenda items, the first and the last, stand out.

First is a review of the Proposed ILSAC/OIL Engine Oil Development Process which, when completed later this year, would result in a revised quality upgrade process.

Following widespread unhappiness with the GF-2 process, ILSAC (representing U.S. and Japanese automakers) made its initial proposal for change in late 2000. API spent 2001 meticulously probing and dissecting this proposal, seeking to preserve as much as possible of the status quo, which it firmly supports.

Last November, ILSAC asked API to make a decision on its proposal by the end of the year. API did so by agreeing, in principle, to ILSACs somewhat moderated approach. But there were plenty of details to work out.

Those details are being negotiated now via the ILSAC/OIL proposal, and will ultimately be codified in API Publication 1509, Appendix C. GMs Mike McMillan, ILSAC chairman, noted late last week that there still are some significant issues that we dont see eye-to-eye on yet. He declined to discuss these issues but was hopeful that the process will reach a satisfactory conclusion.

The final Lubricants Committee agenda item today, “Is there a need for continued ASTM role in the development of API S Categories?” stems from the issues now under discussion in the ILSAC/OIL process.

ASTM Committee D-02 has had a central role in the development of all new quality upgrades. For GF-3, SL, CI-4 and all previous light- and heavy-duty category upgrades for at least a decade, ASTM’s Engine Oil Classification Panels have been the forum where technical issues were hammered out and resolved.

Auto manufacturers are concerned about getting GF-4 commercialized in time to coincide with engine technology modifications coming on line to meet the greatly tightened emissions requirements effective in 2004. Hence, they are paying close attention to any forum where a slowdown in the GF-4 process could occur. The two critical venues in the GF-4 process are API’s Lubricants Committee and ASTM’s Passenger Car Engine Oil Classification Panel. Stay tuned.

ACC Pulls the Plug
One year ago, on March 20, 2001, the American Chemistry Council proposed A New Direction for engine oil quality assurance whose central feature was halting the development of new industry-wide specifications, thus defaulting to individual OEM sponsored specification … with limits and approvals established and controlled by individual OEMs… while retaining current API specifications. Under this proposal GF-3 would be the final light-duty, industry wide category.

The auto industry expressed interest in considering ACCs ideas – but not until after the completion of GF-4. The oil industry was not interested.

One year less five days later, saying its proposal has served a very worthwhile role in shaping the new ILSAC/OIL process, ACC withdrew it, and said, It is now time to move forward with the ILSAC/OIL proposal.

Free API Guidelines on Web
To ease access to essential technical parts of Publication 1509, API has made Appendices E and F (Base Oil Interchange and Viscosity-Grade Engine Testing Guidelines) available as downloadable PDF files. These Guidelines have been significantly changed in the last few months to incorporate CI-4 and API SL. More changes are expected. For copies go to www.api.org and then select Energy Professional Site > Quality Programs > Engine Oil (Lubricants) > Engine Oil Publications.

The full Publication 1509 is for sale for $75 from the API Publications Office. Call 202-682-8373, fax 202-682-4776, or go to www.api.org and select Energy Professional Site > Publications > Catalogue of Publications.

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