Article

Engine Oil Classification – Gasoline Engines

Background

Engine oil classifications are established by trade
associations around the world. In the USA, the classification of an
requirements for engine oils are led by API (American Petroleum Institute), Alliance for Automotive Innovation, EMA (Engine Manufacturers Association) and ACC (American
Chemistry Council). The technical societies ASTM and SAE verify the technical
need for the new category and ultimately recommends the performance and test
limits to define each category. 

In Europe however each individual OEMs continue to be a major influence on engine oil performance requirements for both heavy duty and passenger cars applications. 

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This is decided by the ACEA (European Automobile Manufacturers Associations), its members include BMW, DAF, Daimler Truck, Ford of Europe, Ferrari, Honda, Hyundai Motor Europe, Iveco, Jaguar Land Rover, Mercedes-Benz Group, Renault, Stellantis, Toyota Europe, Volkswagen Group.

API has become the standardized labelling of engine oils that meets the warranty, maintenance, and lubrication requirements of all the OEMs. This is represented through the adoption of the doughnut logo which is designed to be placed on container. It tells the vehicle owner the viscosity grade service classification and energy conserving capabilities.

API has become the standardized labelling of engine oils that meets the warranty, maintenance, and lubrication requirements of all the OEMs. This is represented through the adoption of the doughnut logo which is designed to be placed on container. It tells the vehicle owner the viscosity grade service classification and energy conserving capabilities.

No amount of label standardization can protect the public from uncertified claims from blenders. Therefore, to limit the amount of mislabelling, API and SAE have instituted policy measures that the API service symbol to be obtained through paid applications and validated through a database. However, these days blenders can also obtain the API by using API approved additives in their formulation, drastically reducing the cost of application.

Gasoline Engine

This is the list of the current API Service Categories. It includes the performance properties of each category and can be used for older engines where earlier categories are recommended

Note: The letters “SI”, “SK”, and “SO” have been omitted from the sequence of letter designations for API Service Categories because of their common association with other organizations or systems.

 

Category

Status

Service

SP

Current

Introduced in May 2020, designed to provide protection against low-speed pre-ignition (LSPI), timing chain wear protection, improved high temperature deposit protection for pistons and turbochargers, and more stringent sludge and varnish control. API SP with Resource Conserving matches ILSAC GF-6A by combining API SP performance with improved fuel economy, emission control system protection and protection of engines operating on ethanol-containing fuels up to E85.

SN

Current

For 2020 and older automotive engines

SM

Current

For 2010 and older automotive engines.

SL

Current

For 2004 and older automotive engines.

SJ

Current

For 2001 and older automotive engines.

SH

Obsolete

CAUTION: Not suitable for use in most gasoline-powered automotive engines built after 1996. May not provide adequate protection against build-up of engine sludge, oxidation, or wear.

SG

Obsolete

CAUTION: Not suitable for use in most gasoline-powered automotive engines built after 1993. May not provide adequate protection against build-up of engine sludge, oxidation, or wear.

SF

Obsolete

CAUTION: Not suitable for use in most gasoline-powered automotive engines built after 1988. May not provide adequate protection against build-up of engine sludge.

SE

Obsolete

CAUTION: Not suitable for use in most gasoline-powered automotive engines built after 1979.

SD

Obsolete

CAUTION: Not suitable for use in most gasoline-powered automotive engines built after 1971. Use in more modern engines may cause unsatisfactory performance or equipment harm.

SC

Obsolete

CAUTION: Not suitable for use in most gasoline-powered automotive engines built after 1967. Use in more modern engines may cause unsatisfactory performance or equipment harm.

SB

Obsolete

CAUTION: Not suitable for use in most gasoline-powered automotive engines built after 1951. Use in more modern engines may cause unsatisfactory performance or equipment harm.

SA

Obsolete

CAUTION: Contains no additives. Not suitable for use in most gasoline-powered automotive engines built after 1930. Use in modern engines may cause unsatisfactory performance or equipment harm.

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ILSAC Standard for Passenger Car Engine Oils

ILSAC standardization for motor oil is the newest gasoline specification, adding an extra requirement for fuel economy in their testing. Developed by The International Lubricant Standardization in and Approval Committee (ILSAC) in 2004 also has standards for motor oil. Introduced in 2004, GF-4[25] applies to SAE 0W-20, 5W-20, 0W-30, 5W-30, and 10W-30 viscosity grade oils.

Name

Status

Service

GF-6A

Current

Introduced in May 2020, designed to provide protection against low-speed pre-ignition (LSPI), timing chain wear protection, improved high temperature deposit protection for pistons and turbochargers, more stringent sludge and varnish control, improved fuel economy, enhanced emission control system protection and protection of engines operating on ethanol-containing fuels up to E85.

GF-6B

Current

Applies only to oils having an SAE viscosity grade of 0W-16. Introduced in May 2020, designed to provide protection against low-speed pre-ignition (LSPI), timing chain wear protection, high temperature deposit protection for pistons and turbochargers, stringent sludge and varnish control, improved fuel economy, emission control system protection and protection of engines operating on ethanol-containing fuels up to E85.

GF-5

Obsolete*

Use GF-6A where GF-5 is recommended.  

GF-4

Obsolete

Use GF-5 where GF-4 is recommended.

GF-3

Obsolete

Use GF-5 where GF-3 is recommended.

GF-2

Obsolete

Use GF-5 where GF-2 is recommended.

GF-1

Obsolete

Use GF-5 where GF-1 is recommended.

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