The following appeared in the September 1994 edition of the AMSOIL Dealer Magazine.
The desire for improvement demands a constant evolution of standards and constant technological progress. Since transportation is one of the most vital aspects of our society, this principle is especially true of automotive issues, among them motor oil.
Early this year, the American Petroleum Institute began testing for a new oil classification. The standards set for this new classification (API SH) are the highest ever. As expected, AMSOIL motor oils exceed SH requirements and the company is looking ahead to the challenges of the future.
The Catalysts for Change
Two main forces generated the need for an API SH classification. One of these forces is advances in automobile engine technology. New engines put greater strain than ever on motor oils. Tighter clearances, higher rpms and smaller sump capacities intensify the high heat, high shear conditions that break down motor oils. They also intensify the importance of motor oil functions like wear protection. This makes the strain put on motor oils doubly severe.
A second motivation for the new standards is concern for the environment. Fuel economy is very important in new standards. Motor oils are expected to facilitate more efficient operation, which increases fuel efficiency. Through high performance, AMSOIL facilitates greater efficiency and improves fuel economy. More efficient operation also cuts down on harmful emissions.
Since oil consumption and improperly dumped waste oil can cause pollution, reducing them is a priority. Efforts to reduce them include extending the intervals between oil changes and reducing oil burn-off and consumption. AMSOIL motor oils are unsurpassed in addressing these concerns.
The API classifies motor oils with a two-letter designation. The first letter indicates the type of engine the motor oil will be used in. It can be either of two letters – “S” for spark ignition (or gasoline engine) or “C” for compression ignition (diesel engine).
The second letter indicates the severity of service under which the oil must perform. The lowest severity of service was “A” (long ago obsolete), and each new classification increases the demand on the motor oil and moves the letter designation up one letter in the alphabet. The new classification SH replaced SG. The SI requirements may be out as early as 1995-96!
The differences between SH and SG show the new expectations of motor oil by offering a glimpse in the direction technology is moving. It can also sometimes offer clues to what future expectations will be.
One difference between SG and SH is the difficulty in passing the same tests. For a given test, a motor oil may be given several chances to pass it. It becomes more difficult under the SH rules because passing doesn’t mean that the oil’s best test score is good enough. The average of some or all of the test scores must now exceed the requirement.
In addition, tests for SH include requirements for volatility, foaming, flash point, phosphorus content, pour point, and shearing, none of which were required tests for SG classification. These qualities are linked to performance, environmental safety and good business.
The Future of Motor Oils
While higher standards actually favor AMSOIL, other motor oils are not so lucky. Petroleum base stocks, for example, may soon fail to meet the higher requirements of advanced engine design. Petroleum motor oils will eventually be eliminated as viable motor oil base stocks. In the meantime, higher standards will only enhance AMSOIL’s leadership position.
What new demands does the future hold? No one knows for sure, but it seems likely that the future includes catalyst compatibility requirements and better volatility performance. New classifications will continue to demand better performance under harsher conditions and better environmental performance. Whatever the new requirements are, they will be more difficult than the SH requirements now in effect.
AMSOIL continues to stand firmly among the leaders of the lubricants industry. Because of our commitment to excellence and quality, you can rest assured that AMSOIL is considering the challenges of tomorrow today. We will remain “The First in Synthetics.”
SLS Notes: API passed over the “SI” designation and introduced API “SJ” motor oils in 1996. API SJ is the oldest current API certification and is acceptable for vehicles manufactured prior to 2001. All certifications prior to SJ are now considered obsolete. The API “S” classifications are considered backwards compatible. That means that if there are newer classifications than what your owners manual calls for, they can safely be used in your vehicle.
While there are still “Petroleum” motor oils being manufactured and sold, the market for them should be diminishing. Due to improvements in engine design and tighter machining tolerances, all vehicles manufactured since 2011 should be using synthetic motor oils. Unfortunately, many people still don’t understand that need and continue to use lubricants based on crude oil products, even when the vehicle manufacturer requires the use of synthetic lubricants.
Add to that, the fact that there are no standards or control of advertising claims as to lubricant quality or performance and the quality of some synthetic lubricants has dropped significantly since the mid 90’s. Instead of holding synthetic lubricants to a higher quality standard, some advertisers now consider the word “Synthetic” nothing more than a marketing claim and can just about label any lubricant as synthetic.
AMSOIL has always set their standards at the very top and consider that “The First In Synthetics” means they MUST be the best. No one outperforms AMSOIL.