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HOUSTON – APIs 2004 engine oil Aftermarket Audit Program uncovered significant nonconformance by two licensees out of 529 total license holders, the API Lubricants Committee learned at its May 10 meeting here. One company met follow-up requirements, and the others license was canceled – but the identities of both were kept secret.

API, the Washington, D.C. based American Petroleum Institute, licenses motor oil marketers to use its trademarked starburst and donut symbols to indicate conformance with current engine oil specifications.

Kevin Ferrick, API engine oil licensing and certification system manager, gave an interim report on the 2004 Aftermarket Audit Program. In early 2004, Pittsburgh Applied Research Corp. had been selected as the new sample collection lab and PerkinElmer, San Antonio, the new physical and chemical test laboratory, Ferrick reported. We had to modify the database to accommodate the new labs, and this delayed the analysis of test results. All 2004 samples have now been tested, a total of 611 separate marketplace oils, and necessary retesting is underway. Final 2004 program results will be available within two months.

In 2004, Ferrick indicated, API issued engine oil licenses to 529 companies in 52 countries; this year, 530 companies in 53 countries had been issued licenses by May 6. Although the number of licensees has plateaued for several years, the number of licensed products continues to increase, up from 6,700 in 2004 to 7,500 in the first four months of 2005. This increase reflects newly licensed API SM, ILSAC GF-4 and CI-4-Plus engine oils. In many cases, GF-3 oils remain licensed as API SL oils. Not included are 1,316 ILSAC GF-3 oils which became ineligible for licensing on May 1, 2005, and were removed from APIs licensed-product database on that date.

Under the Aftermarket Audit Program, commonly called AMAP, four one- quart packages of engine oils are purchased for each audit sample from retail outlets, while bulk samples are obtained from quick lubes, new car dealers and service stations in one-gallon containers.

In 2004, 490 gasoline engine oil samples and 121 heavy-duty diesel oil samples were collected for auditing. U.S. and Canadian licensees accounted for 82 percent of the total number, with the remainder coming from the other 50 countries.

Roughly 60 percent of the packaged samples were the principal gasoline engine oil viscosity grades SAE 5W-20 and 5W-30, and 10W-30 and 10W-40. About 20 percent were SAE 15W-40 grade, the major heavy-duty grade, and another 20 percent were not identified by viscosity grade.

In the bulk oil category, 78 percent of the samples were the three principal gasoline engine oil grades SAE 5W-20, 5W-30 and 10W-30. SAE 15W-40 products made up 18 percent, with only 4 percent of other grades.

Products have been found to be commingled in some of the bulk samples, Ferrick reported. However, the commingling did not seem to negatively affect the quality.

API legal counsel Doug Morris noted, Enforcement for bulk audits is limited and is more of a for-your-information process. Nonetheless, API is targeting an increase in bulk samples to 30 percent of the total in 2005, from 20 percent in 2004.

No engine tests were conducted in 2004, during the process of bringing new tests online for GF-4. Just seven or eight engine tests are planned for 2005. The specific tests for 2005 had not yet been selected but would likely include the new Sequence IIIG test for wear and oil thickening, and the VG test for wear, sludge and varnish.

Ferrick reported that the 2004 sample collection uncovered significant nonconformance with two licensees. Each licensee agreed to complete additional requirements to remain licensed, including third-party physical and chemical testing of licensed oils. One of the licensees had met the additional criteria, and one did not. Its license was canceled. The companies were not identified, and no other audit results were reported.

Licensing Fees Raised

Last fall, API increased the fee it charges for each engine oil licensee by $225, bringing it up to $850 for API member companies and $1,050 for nonmembers. Thats a 35 percent increase for API member companies and 27 percent for nonmember companies.

At the same time API also increased the volume-of-sales fee, which is a royalty levied on each gallon of licensed product sold after the first million gallons. This fee went up 20 percent, from $0.00125 to $0.00150 per gallon.

This was APIs first effective licensing fee increase since the beginning of the program in 1994. API had said the price increase is necessary for EOLCS to continue fulfilling its important role in assuring engine oil quality worldwide. The new fees represent an average rate of increase of 2.6 percent if they had been increased annually starting in 1994.

These price increases bring APIs income from the engine oil licensing program to about $2.5 million annually.

Progress on GF-5

Meeting in Detroit in mid-April, ILSAC/Oil, the committee developing the next gasoline engine oil quality upgrade, rejected replacing an engine sequence test with a less costly bench test; moved ahead on developing a new fuel-economy test for engine oils; explored adoption of a Japanese chain-wear test; and established an emissions system compatibility team.

Representing the automotive, chemical additive and petroleum industries, the ILSAC/Oil Committee has targeted mid-2009 as the completion date for the new GF-5 engine oil specification – a tight deadline given the amount of test development the group faces.

Five sequence tests are currently planned for GF-5, explained Ben Weber of Southwest Research Institute, chair of an ASTM section on passenger car engine oils. He summarized the status of proposed engine sequence tests for the anticipated five-year life of the category, from 2009 to 2014:

1) The Sequence VIII, which measures bearing weight loss, had been the subject of possible elimination, to be replaced with the Cummins Corrosion Bench Test. The committee decided that the Cummins test was not a suitable replacement, so the Sequence VIII will be a GF-5 requirement.

Weber reported that the existing Sequence VIII engine parts inventory could last until 2015 at the average usage of 10 tests per month. He also reported that lead from existing bearings in storage continues to leach into the storage oil; the Central Parts Distributor has been working with a manufacturer to procure a new batch of bearings and resolve this problem.

2) For the Sequence IVA test, which measures camshaft lobe wear, Weber reported that there are options available for continuing this test, whether it includes upfront, long-term purchases by the lab or the Central Parts Distributor, or continued annual buys [of test engine parts] directly from Nissan.

3) The Sequence IIIG, which measures weighted piston deposits, used oil low-temperature viscosity and viscosity increase, faces no issues during GF-4, the current engine oil spec. However, a new IIIH test will be needed for GF-5.

4) The Sequence VG, which measures low-temperature sludge, currently uses an out-of-production 1993 Ford 4.6-liter engine and hardware, with parts stockpiled through GF-4s anticipated demise in 2009. The same test, but with some new hardware (cylinder heads and intake manifolds) will be required for GF-5.

5) The Sequence VIB, which measures engine oils contribution to fuel economy, also uses the 1993 Ford 4.6-liter engine and hardware. Weber reported that the test, with some hardware changes to come, is suitable for all of GF-4. However, last October, ILSAC – that is, U.S. and Japanese automakers – unanimously agreed that the current Sequence VIB test had to be replaced for GF-5.

Wanted: Fuel Economy

Fuel economy is one of the hot-button issues for engine oils. For at least a decade, vehicle manufacturers have insisted that new categories for gasoline engine oils must have a demonstrable fuel economy component. They assert that this requirement is a valuable resource conservation measure for the country. In addition, engine oil fuel economy helps automakers meet their mandated corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) requirements.

In January a 10-member task force was established, with Michael McMillan of General Motors as chair. Its objectives included agreeing on testing procedures to be used in generating correlation data, overseeing testing and producing a report on testing results, providing input on engines and the oil matrix to be included in the testing program, and collection and analyzing data on proposed engine or bench tests.

The task force presently believes that either a bench test or engine dynamometer could be considered to measure engine oil fuel economy in GF-5. A bench test would be substantially less costly than an engine test.

However, ILSAC believes strongly that a bench test alone is not suitable for predicting engine oil fuel-efficiency improvements, because of carryover, contamination and used oil effects, among other reasons. Therefore, while a bench test is a consideration, ILSAC has declared that a fuel-efficiency test for GF-5 must include an engine dynamometer test – that is, an engine test.

McMillan reported to the April ILSAC/Oil meeting that the current test doesnt measure benefits of friction modifiers seen in many other engines, and it has exhibited precision and pass-rate difficulties. He added that there are indications of broad industry support (OEMs, oil and additive companies) for developing a test to replace the

Sequence VIB.

Both General Motors and Southwest Research submitted proposals for generating preliminary data to serve as a basis for developing the new fuel-economy test(s). McMillan said the next step is for ASTM to establish a task force to develop the replacement test(s). Its goal, he said, should be to solicit test development proposals during the second half of 2005 and complete test development during 2006.

Add a non-ASTM Test?

Japanese automakers have indicated concern with the ability of todays GF-4 oils to lubricate timing chains effectively. Several Japanese companies have developed chain-wear tests and are using them in Japan. Adapting one of these tests for GF-5 could reduce duplication and save money.

(A precedent exists for accepting a non-ASTM-originated test for U.S. engine oils. The Sequence IVA was originally developed by Nissan; however considerable work was required to bring the Nissan test into an ASTM standard.)

The American Chemistry Councils acceptance of an engine sequence test into its Code of Practice is a core requirement for the tests use in licensing U.S. oils. ILSAC asked the American Chemistry Council, which represents the additives industry, how it could bring a test from an outside source into the Code of Practice.

ACC noted that a foreign test can be accepted as long as it, and the test labs involved, meet the same general criteria as domestically developed tests and domestic test labs. ACC has developed a fast-track template for new tests, as a guide to judge acceptance.

The ILSAC/Oil Committee discussed how to bridge different approaches to testing in different political jurisdictions. Outside North America, for example, there may be less reliance on strict and formal checks and balances and more on informal relationships and assurances.

The committee established a small working group including vehicle manufacturers, test labs and the chemical additive industry to work with Japanese counterparts on evaluating Japanese chain-wear tests for GF-5.

Emissions System Team

Finally, the ILSAC/Oil Committee established a 10-member GF-5 Emissions System Compatibility Improvement Team, chaired by Charles Sherwood of Ford Motor Co.

This teams charter is to evaluate potential methods for determining the impact of GF-5 engine oil formulations on emission system function and durability, with a focus on the impact of phosphorus and sulfur on catalysts … and oxygen sensors. The team will consider chemical limits as well as physical, bench, field and engine tests, and make a recommendation on compatibility improvement by Jan. 1, 2007.

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