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Old 06-07-2010, 03:09 PM   #1
DF Sales&Marketing
Oil Moderator
Join Date: Apr 2007
Member Number: 207
Posts: 268

api sn crosses finish line

Api’s lubricants committee approved the sn and sn resource conserving passenger car engine oil categories, with first licensing oct. 1, 2010, launching alongside ilsac gf-5. The thumbs-up came in spite of continued opposition from automakers.

Api sn will be an upgrade of the current api sm category, identified by the api donut trademark. It aims to address the full spectrum of engine oil viscosity grades, including those not covered under the ilsac specification, such as sae 10w-40. Sn resource conserving (which will replace the current sm energy conserving designation) has additional requirements covering fuel economy improvement and vehicle emissions systems protection.

Feedback from automakers had been uniformly negative over a series of meetings in recent months. Some oems threatened to withdraw support for api licensed oils entirely if the sn category was not aligned to gf-5 in areas such as phosphorus content and deposit control.

“they [automakers] Definitely didn’t approve it,” api engine oil licensing manager kevin ferrick confirmed to lube report. “the oems commented that had there been a separate ballot item for sn resource conserving, they would have approved that. But for practical purposes, we didn’t feel it was necessary to change the ballot and issue it again. That was enough for us, that they approved of sn resource conserving. It makes sense because it’s an exact duplicate of gf-5.”

gf-5 oils are identified by api’s starburst trademark, and were developed jointly by ilsac, representing north American and japanese automakers, and oil and additive companies. The s-series of engine oil categories belong to api alone, and are referenced worldwide.

Ferrick noted that while the automakers are probably not happy with api sn in its final form, the lubricants committee felt strongly they needed sn to have some ability to meet what they perceived as a global need outside north america and japan .

“here in north america , the automakers are essentially recommending gf-5,” he noted. “so sn resource conserving would give a clear signal to a consumer that they’re getting a gf-5 product. Api and the lubes committee agreed that they will do more to make sure the message gets out, that if an oem is using gf-5, then you need to use gf-5 – that an sn oil by itself is not going to be enough. That you then have to do sn resource conserving. But then sn is available for places where gf-5 performance isn’t recommended.”

washington, d.c.-based api withdrew an initial jan. 8 ballot on sn and sn resource conserving. A new ballot went out March 31 and technically closed on April 16. On that same date, ferrick said, the issue went before an administrative guidance panel. “the recommendations that came out of there were similar to the ones found in the ballot,” he noted. The 15-member lubricants committee worked out final definitions and user language for api sn and sn resource conserving during an April 23 conference call to review ballot comments.

Oems had suggested additions to sn requirements, including an 800 ppm phosphorus limit, requiring the teost 33c test for high-temperature turbocharger deposits, and testing emulsion retention in all sn oil viscosities. The revised ballot addressed the issues to some extent, though not across the board for all viscosity grades.

“a lot of the comments we had from the automakers had to do with concerns about misapplication,” ferrick explained. “there was concern sn oils could end up in their cars when they need to be gf-5 or sn with resource conserving. The committee discussed that and did agree they need to do significantly more consumer education to make sure that there’s not a misapplication.”

in response to automaker’s concerns, the lubricants committee agreed to add a sentence to the sn service recommendation, “vehicle owners and operators should follow their vehicle manufacturer’s recommendations on engine oil viscosity and performance standard.” they hope this will help ensure that the oils recommended by engine manufacturers are used, especially in newer model-year vehicles.

editor’s comment: you might recall back when the “sm” specification went into effect that there was very little, if any pre-warning and it left consumers un-informed as to the change and what it would mean for their equipment. Consequently, with this planned change in mind, more information is being released. Note that there will be a new type of zinc used, but it will not be tested for compatibility with flat tappet camshafts - so for engines requiring the good old zinc formulation such as in historic, high performance and pre- 2007, we still recommend the oil specification to be no newer than “sl.” swepco 306 fills the bill on those.
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