Three new ways oils will be identified and utilized

Three new ways oils will be identified and utilized

This December we get a little extra bonus: Three changes in the way lube oils are identified and utilized.

First, the API will discontinue the use of the term “energy conserving” on their SL and SM passenger car motor oils (PCMO). The term is discontinued because the engine parts needed to run the laboratory engine tests are no longer available. The API SN classification will still contain the words “resource conserving,” because that test procedure is current and parts are available. Second and third are the introduction of the two new heavy-duty diesel oil (HDDO) performance categories, API CK-4 and FA-4. We’ve known the new PC-11 performance category (or categories) would be eventually developed since 2006.

As fleet managers should know, API CK-4 oils will see no major changes in oil viscosity and will be backward compatible. That means CK-4 oils can be used in engines developed prior to 2016. No one is worried about misuse of this new oil performance category.

The problem occurs with API performance category FA-4. This category is used to identify lower viscosity HDDOs, which will yield significantly better fuel economy than previous “C” category oils. These oils are to be used in 2017 and later engines specifically designed to utilize lower viscosity oils. These new oils are making oil marketers nervous.

There is a concern that a fleet will want to utilize FA-4 oils to maximize fuel economy, and thereby reducing operating expenses, but there are many pitfalls with this line of thinking if the industry isn’t properly educated on the details of the new categories. Older engine designs with looser clearances may well self destruct due to insufficient oil pressure if FA-4 is used. As we all know, a few engine failures and the accompanying lawyers can wipe out a lot of profit.

Want more insight from John Martin? Click here to see all of his columns.

How many people out there really understand what to look for when evaluating a thinner oil? I read an interesting report on the self-inflicted complexities of the development of new oil performance categories by the additive chemical, engine and oil industries entitled “Choking on Complexity” in a recent issue of Lubes ‘N’ Greases magazine. Hopefully, it’s a sign that the details are being communicated and it will open some eyes to the uses of the new categories.

For example, it takes $1 million to $1.3 million to run all the tests required by the CK-4 performance category one time. The article makes the point that these extremely high developmental costs slow development and stifle innovation. That’s one of the reasons motor oil is so expensive today.

I agree 100%. During my career, I saw lube oil development go from a cooperative research effort on the part of additive suppliers, engine builders and oil suppliers conducted by scientists to what we have today. It’s difficult when new oil products are subjected to marketing departments. I know of one instance where a industry participant lobbied to get specifications detrimental to us because he had to purchase higher performance chemicals.

Costs go up, oils evolve, growing more complicated, and the end user needs educated on the benefits and reasons for this. Additionally, we should let the scientists, not the marketing people and EPA politicians, decide when oil specifications should change and develop the necessary tests to prove these higher levels of performance as rapidly as possible.

That’s one of the reasons why participation in TMC activities is so important. End users can gather and articulate their operational concerns, and technical people can rapidly determine what can be done to improve the situation. That way everyone can be more responsive to changing customer needs.

You May Also Like

Carrier Transicold debuts Supra eCool electric truck refrigeration unit series

The company notes that the Supra e9 and e11 units will provide comparable refrigeration performance to its diesel-powered predecessor.


Carrier Transicold is rolling out two single-temperature electric truck refrigeration units this year as the foundation of its new Supra eCool series. The company notes that the electric units will cover 14- to 28-foot, Class 5 to 7 straight truck applications and are designed for fleets seeking regulatory compliance or simply more sustainable options. The engineless Supra e9 and e11 units will provide comparable refrigeration performance to Carrier Transicold’s diesel-powered Supra S8 and S10 units, Carrier Transicold stated in a recent press release.

So you want to write for Fleet Equipment?

Of course you do. As the premiere online publication for the heavy-duty truck market, charting the latest in trucking equipment, technology, and service trends, Fleet Equipment has a knack for digging up the stories behind the stories (while having a lot of fun along the way). Now you can be a part of it! But

Write for Fleet Equipment
Babcox Media mourns the passing of Tim Fritz, longtime editor and friend

Babcox Media Editor Tim Fritz passed away on Feb. 23 from a heart attack. He was 53 years old. Related Articles – Debating the merits of ethanol – Why isn’t a truck’s appearance part of the PM process? – Change is coming to U.S. energy policies Tim joined Babcox Media in 1990 and spent 31

What’s behind the slow adoption of FA-4 oil?

Introduced three years ago, the American Petroleum Institute (API)’s CK-4 and FA-4 oil categories were billed as the next generation of oil, improving on the engine protection and fuel economy benefits offered by previous engine oil categories.

How will today’s ‘customer focus’ translate to tomorrow’s electric trucks?

Over the past three years, OEMs have invested heavily in driver-focused equipment benefits—from cozy creature comforts to uptime- and productivity-boosting technology. Today, significant R&D investment is going into the development of electric trucks—probing the possibilities of untested powertrains in hopes of producing a product that meets application needs.


Other Posts

The keys to properly securing unique cargo

With the wide range of cargo types, unique materials and geometric shapes and the significant mass of some loads, there is a lot to consider.

Cargo securement tips for International Roadcheck 2023

A brief educational triage to help you refresh your memory on proper cargo securement before International Roadcheck 2023.

Cummins, Accelera emphasize decarbonization, hydrogen at ACT Expo

The company showcased technologies including electrolyzers to produce hydrogen that can power both a hydrogen-fueled internal combustion engine concept truck and a fuel cell electric powertrain.

Hyliion unveils Karno electric range extender powertrain at ACT Expo

The Karno technology is a linear motor heat generator that leverages 3D metal-printed components and proprietary flameless oxidation technology to produce clean electricity.