GF-6 Start May be Delayed to Aug. 2018

With testing for existing engine oil specifications becoming tenuous, the API Auto Oil Advisory Panel expressed concern recently that introduction of the GF-6 passenger car motor oil category, already behind schedule, could be further delayed.

The AOAP met June 30 and reviewed new delays in the development of several engine tests that are part of GF-6, the next PCMO category being developed. The panel’s discussion, which took place during the semi-annual meeting of the ASTM D02 Committee on Petroleum Products, Liquid Fuels and Lubricants, revealed growing concern that first licensing of GF-6 could be delayed to August 2018, from the current target date of April 1 of that year.

Delays with tests that are part of GF-6 could hurt the industry’s ability to respond to problems looming over several tests that are part of GF-5 and other PCMO specs that are still active. Parts used in the Sequence IIIG oxidation test and Sequence VID fuel economy test will probably be used up before the fourth quarter of 2016, and parts for the Sequence VG deposit test will last only until the end of this year. The Sequence IVA valve train wear test is the only engine test in GF-5 that has enough parts to last through the remainder of GF-5’s expected category lifetime.

The American Petroleum Institute has already invoked provisional licensing for GF-5 and API SN, SM, SL and SJ after the industry ran out of bearings used in the Sequence VIII test for bearing corrosion and shear stability. Provisional licensing allows lubricant marketers to apply for permission to claim that their products meet industry specifications without passing all of the requirements of those specs.

GF-6 is bogged down over technical demonstration on several new engine tests. The only engine test currently ready is the Chrysler Oxidation and Deposit Test, which has been accepted and will become the new Sequence IIIH. 

The Sequence IVB wear test, now sponsored by Toyota, must complete a test matrix to verify its precision. Procedures for the Sequence IVB were revised after results on prove-out tests showed precision to be unsatisfactory. The test matrix is now tentatively scheduled to start on Aug. 5, 2016.

A matrix for the Sequence VIE was completed, and an industry statisticians group is now conducting a final statistical analysis of results, which will be reviewed by the ASTM Sequence VI Surveillance Panel in late July. A matrix for the Sequence VIF matrix was also completed, and the statistical data for it will be reviewed by the surveillance panel at the same meeting.

The Sequence VH has been readopted as a replacement to the Sequence VG as a requirement for GF-5 and GF-6. This decision to replace stemmed from unsatisfactory results for the VG-A test. Developers of the VH improved results by employing new parts rather than reconfigured ones and by changing operational settings from the VG-A. Contract laboratories have now started test runs for the VH.

In light of the work that remains to be done, it appears that the final acceptance of all GF-6 engine test procedures will not occur until September 2016 – five months later than the previous projection of April 2016.

According to API protocols, the technical demonstration of engine test procedures should last nine months. At the six-month mark, developers can begin a final approval process, which normally takes six months. After approval, protocols require a 12-month waiting period to allow marketers to qualify products for meeting the specification. Only then can licensing begin. Following these timelines would lead to a first licensing date of Aug. 1, 2018 for GF-6, assuming tests are finalized by September.

There is still uncertainty about whether that will be accomplished. The lack of a finished test matrix on the Sequence VH and IVB could push things back even further.

Timelines for these periods have been compressed at times in the past. AOAP has not discussed doing so in this case and won’t until all of the tests are done and data analyzed. However, the large number of new tests with little background makes timelines more difficult to compress.