As engines are evolving, so are the motor oils that keep them running. The push for increased fuel economy is more present than ever, which is why new oil standards will be in effect nationwide as of May 1, 2020. Read on to learn about what ILSAC GF-6A and GF-6B are, what the new standards mean for car enthusiasts, and how Valvoline has been at the forefront of developing motor oil formulations to not just meet but exceed these new standards.
The International Lubricant Standardization and Approval Committee (ILSAC) is a collaborative group of automotive manufacturers like Ford, General Motors, and Chrysler as well as the JAMA (Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association, Inc.). Based on the changing needs of current engine technology, ILSAC highlighted the immediate need for higher industry standards to provide additional protection under the increased stress of modern engines.
We are proud to say that Valvoline has been an integral part of these industry standards since the beginning. We’ve been actively preparing for the GF-6 transition for several years, taking advantage of over 150 years of formulating knowledge and our in-house engine lab. Valvoline has played an integral role in the GF-6 test development itself, too, helping to lead the lubricant industry’s support of modern engine technology.
Back in the early 1990s, ILSAC released its first generation of light-duty engine oil standards, titled GF-1 for “gas fueled.” As vehicle technologies transform, delivering smaller, more efficient and higher-0performing engines, ILSAC partners with the American Petroleum Institute (API) to define the new quality for motor oils. Oil manufacturers who wish to display API’s “starburst”—their nationally-recognized seal of approval—must go through rigorous testing and formulation changes to achieve these benchmarks.
After that first implementation, ILSAC’s GF standards progressed with GF-2 through GF-5, which rolled out in 2010. ILSAC GF-6 development began in 2011 and included unprecedented lubricant standards aimed at minimizing common issues with modern engines, such as timing chain wear, low speed pre-ignition (LSPI) damage, deposits, and sludge. These new standards also include higher levels of support in fuel economy and emissions controls.
Once ILSAC GF-6 was brought to the table, our scientists and engineers began working diligently in our dedicated engine lab to develop the best new lubricants for modern engines in particular but older engines as well. For many years now, Valvoline has been evaluating motor oil—scoping out new technologies, new componentry, and new chemistry. The ability to perform tests in-house—specifically the Sequence IIIH Deposit Test, Sequence VH Sludge Test, Sequence VIE Fuel Economy Test, and Sequence X Chain Wear Test—gives Valvoline an advantage over other oil marketers.
There is a total of seven new tests in the ILSAC GF-6A and GF-6B specification:
- Fuel Economy (with a second test for SAE 0W-16)
- Low Speed Pre-Ignition (LSPI)
- Chain Wear
- Valve Train Wear
Asking oil marketers to combine fuel economy with durability has proven difficult; however, after many years of formal experimentation, ILSAC GF-6A and GF-6B lubricants are set for official release on May 1, 2020. The new specifications will be issued via two categories: ILSAC GF-6A, which includes SAE 0W-20, SAE 5W-20, SAE 5W-30, and SAW 10W-30 and is fully backwards-compatible with prior ILSAC GF-X generations; and ILSAC GF-6B, which is restricted to the new viscosity grade, SAE 0W-16. SAE 0W-16 is a thinner, low-viscosity oil meant for a small group of vehicles and should never be used in an engine that doesn’t specifically require it—hence its separation from ILSAC GF-6A.
Each time a new set of ILSAC standards is circulated, Valvoline quickly shifts focus to these benchmarks so we can proudly display API’s seal of approval on each engine oil in our product line. Passing the new sequence of engine tests in ILSAC GF-6A and GF-6B ensures Valvoline’s new products are properly developed and meet or exceed all industry standards. Valvoline’s engineers have been deeply involved in what has turned into a large, collaborative industry effort to deliver consumers products that support modern engines as well as older engine technology.
Beyond the ILSAC-required test series, Valvoline is able to run its own series of experiments through our Engine Lab; after all, ILSAC and API release the “minimum standard” for new generations of lubricants, and Valvoline wants to be more than a cast member on the industry stage.
Valvoline completes preliminary testing in our dedicated engine lab with an isolated engine block hooked up to “life support”—instrumentation that controls air, fuel, spark, and other drive cycle conditions. This setup allows engineers to control variables in ways which would be impossible with a completely intact vehicle. After a test is completed, Valvoline engineers dismantle the engine and evaluate many performance parameters, including deposit levels, amounts of wear, and the presence of sludge.
At Valvoline, we want to be at the forefront of lubricant technology, and our engine lab enables us to understand what new technology is needed. The extra time and effort spent designing the ILSAC GF-6A and GF-6B tests has given Valvoline the ability to confidently refine our formulations, going above and beyond to deliver the highest quality lubricants available.