Automakers are the driving force behind ILSAC GF-6, a new motor oil specification that will provide improved fuel economy and protection for modern day engines compared to prior specifications. Newer, smaller Turbocharged Direct Gasoline Injection (TDGI) engines require increased protection against Low-Speed Pre-Ignition (LSPI) and timing chain wear. Ahead of the specification launching in 2020, Pennzoil has products that are expected to meet the new specification, and wants to answer your questions about ILSAC GF-6.
What you need to know about ILSAC GF-6
Learn about ILSAC GF-6, the new motor oil specification coming out in 2020. See how Pennzoil is supporting ILSAC GF-6 and protecting the performance of your engine.
What is “GF-6”?
GF-6 is the name of the next ILSAC standard for passenger car motor oils. Drivers for its development include the ongoing push for greater fuel economy and the resulting engine downsizing that has grown the application of Turbocharged Gasoline Direct Injection (TGDI) engines. TGDI engines require increased protection against Low-Speed Pre-Ignition (LSPI) and timing chain wear.
Much like the current American Petroleum Institute (API) specifications for heavy-duty engine oils (CK-4/FA-4),GF-6 will be split into two sub-categories. The distinction between the two is as follows:
- GF-6A: Backward-compatible standard for SAE 0W-20, SAE 5W-20, SAE 0W-30, SAE 5W-30, and SAE 10W-30, but not SAE 0W-16. This standard will continue to utilize the starburst symbol for licensing.
- GF-6B: New standard for SAE 0W-16 ONLY, developed to meet the needs of specific modern engines. This standard will not be backward-compatible to previous categories and will have a new licensing symbol for bottles.
Why is a GF-6B standard necessary?
ILSAC has always tried to make its standards “evergreen,” which means they are backward-compatible. Thus, when a new standard is activated, the previous standard becomes obsolete because the latest standard meets the needs of both new and prior engine technologies. However, the new 0W-16 viscosity grade has not been specified for most older engines, as most older engines are not equipped to operate with a lubricant at such a low viscosity.
For this reason, ILSAC determined the need for an ILSAC GF-6A standard, which is backward-compatible, and an ILSAC GF-6B standard, which is ONLY used for SAE 0W-16. Oils meeting the GF-6B standard will NOT be backward-compatible unless specified by an OEM, and this distinction will be noted clearly on eligible Pennzoil Platinum motor oil labels.
Does Pennzoil offer any motor oils that meet ILSAC GF-6?
The testing protocol for ILSAC GF-6 has been established and engine test set-ups are available, but the test limits are still being established. For this reason, no motor oils in the marketplace can claim to meet ILSAC GF-6 at this time.However, SOPUS Products has completed the relevant GF-6 testing protocols for the following Pennzoil Platinum products. Based on those results, we expect the following products will meet ILSAC GF-6A- and GF-6B test limits:
- ILSAC GF-6A:
o Pennzoil Platinum Full-Synthetic Motor Oils – SAE 0W-20, SAE 5W-20, SAE 5W-30 and SAE 10W-30
o Pennzoil Platinum High Mileage Full Synthetic Motor Oils - SAE 0W-20, SAE 5W-20, SAE 5W-30 and SAE 10W-30
- ILSAC GF-6B:
o Pennzoil Platinum Full Synthetic Motor Oil - SAE 0W-16
As soon as the test limits for the ILSAC GF-6A and 6B licenses are set, we will seek licensing approval for these products and expect to claim ILSAC GF-6 for them on the first-use date.
- ILSAC GF-6A:
Why does the industry need a new ILSAC standard?
As Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) continue to strive for increased fuel economy and compliance with emission regulations, there becomes a need for new ILSAC standards.
To increase fuel economy, many OEMs have also begun using Turbocharged Gasoline Direct Injection (TGDI) engines, which are susceptible to the Low Speed Pre-Ignition (LSPI) phenomenon. Motor oils can be reformulated to help prevent LSPI, and the American Petroleum Institute (API) made the decision in 2017 to introduce a supplemental service category (API SN PLUS) to address this need while work on ILSAC GF-6 was being completed. The ILSAC GF-6 standard includes SAE 0W-16, addresses LSPI and includes protection against timing chain wear.
ILSAC has always tried to make its standards “evergreen,” which means they are backward-compatible, so when a new standard is activated, the previous standard becomes obsolete. That means the latest standard meets the needs of both new and prior engine technologies.
Additionally, previous ILSAC standards (such as GF-5) did not include the 0W-16 viscosity grade which will become more prevalent in the future. However, the new SAE 0W-16 viscosity grade has not been specified for most older engines, as most older engines are not equipped to operate with a lubricant at such a low viscosity. For this reason, ILSAC determined the need for an ILSAC GF-6A standard, which is backward-compatible, and an ILSAC GF-6B standard, which is ONLY for SAE 0W-16. Oils meeting the GF-6B standard will NOT be backward-compatible unless specified by an OEM, and this distinction will be noted clearly on eligible Pennzoil Platinum motor oil labels.
What about API SN PLUS? Will ILSAC GF-6 replace it?
The ILSAC GF-6 performance standard is a direct replacement for the ILSAC GF-5 performance standard—not for the API SN PLUS service category.
API SN PLUS is a supplemental service category that API adopted to provide consumers with motor oils that helped reduce the occurrence of Low-Speed Pre-Ignition (LSPI) in smaller, TGDI engines while the ILSAC GF-6 standard was still in development. API will introduce a new API service category, “SP,” which will be derived from ILSAC GF-6 and licensed to motor oils for gasoline engines. While API SP will be backwards-compatible to previous API service categories, motor oils will still be able to be licensed as meeting the API SN PLUS, SN, SM, SL or SJ categories. API allows licensed motor oils to display the API “donut,” which indicates which API service category the motor oil meets.
ILSAC standards and API service categories are separate but interrelated. The automotive and motor oil industries work together to define a new ILSAC standard. Once the standard is approved by ILSAC and API, API manages licensing of the ILSAC starburst, a Registered Mark that clearly identifies passenger car engine oils meeting the latest ILSAC performance standard.
What is Low-Speed Pre-Ignition?
Low-Speed Pre-Ignition (LSPI) is an abnormal combustion phenomenon typically observed at low engine speeds and high loads in which the fuel/air mixture in the combustion chambers ignites before spark timing. LSPI can cause engine knock and in severe cases, catastrophic engine failure.
There are multiple theories about what causes LSPI in downsized Turbo Gasoline Direct Injection (TGDI) engines, although it is widely accepted that motor oils can play a role. Research has shown that during LSPI, a drop of oil in the cylinder may be combining with fuel droplets to create hot spots in the combustion chamber and prompting ignition before spark timing is intended to occur. Research has also shown that motor oils can be reformulated to significantly reduce their contribution to LSPI, which was the goal of the API SN PLUS supplemental service category introduced in 2018. (GM chose to address LSPI with the introduction of its dexos1™ Gen 2 specification, which went into effect September 2011).
The ILSAC GF-6 standard was designed to address the impact of LSPI in downsized TGDI engines.
What tests will be used to determine whether an engine oil will or will not contribute to LSPI?
The Sequence IX engine test was developed to measure LSPI performance and adopted for GF-6/SP.
How do I know if my car needs an ILSAC GF-6 motor oil?
To find out if your vehicle has a turbocharged engine and requires an ILSAC GF-6 motor oil, we recommend checking your vehicles owner’s manual.