API Licensing and Warranties

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API Licensed Oil Certification and OEM Warranties When Using Synthetic Engine Oils

Understanding the Facts, the Heroes, the Experts, and the Manipulators:
A former OEM headquarters senior engineer, as a mechanical engineer and lubrication specialist, presents the facts on API Certification related to engine oils, synthetic oils, and OEM warranties.

 

How do synthetic lubricants like AMSOIL engine oils relate to API Licensing and Vehicle Warranties?  What are the facts?  Who are the experts?  Who are the real heroes?  Who is really doing the manipulating?  Thousands of people discuss and argue these questions daily, and it is rare that anyone can untangle the chaos of opinions, rumors, assumptions, fears and speculation.  I’ve done it here for you.  So link and share away – read on, and welcome your friends to the bright spotlight of truthful engineering realities!

Only a small group of people understands the full API Engine Oil Licensing System.  So this resource explains the actual API situation, defines the real warranty picture, talks frankly about the engine sludge problem (among others), and reveals why true synthetic lubricants have such a passionate following.  In order to cover the information that’s needed to systematically untangle a lot of confusion, the following outline structure is used:

– Executive Summary Paragraph

A.  The Confusion in Requirements: explains the overall situation.

B.  The First Half summarizes the Common Myths against the contrasting Facts, and identifies the Facts, Heroes, Experts and Manipulators.

C.  The Second Half is a detailed dive, to explain the real content of API Licensing Certification and to clarify many points of confusion including the roles of the SAE Service Grades and ASTM tests.

The API/ASTM tests are listed at the end which are used in testing engine oils.

Along the way we’ll also explain some facts about issues like engine sludge buildup, and about true synthetic oil technology, using the recognized benchmark gold-standard of AMSOIL’s four decades of synthetic lubrication technology leadership.

Executive Summary-in-One-Paragraph of the
Facts on API Certification of Synthetic Motor Oils:

Unfortunately for consumers, the API Certification is NOT for high performance: only minimum performance. Further, the API provides no reasonable certification options for genuine Group IV and Group V synthetics, deliberately maintaining a skewed structure that multiplies synthetic test costs by several times. In addition, the API engine oil Certification adds content restrictions (not required by the SAE, not required by the OEM’s) that prohibit certifying products with very long (European) drain intervals OR very low wear rates. So the world of API Certification implies that high-profit mediocre products are high performance, it ensures that only petroleum-company oils can be cost-effectively Certified by the API, and it ensures that the world’s highest-performance products cannot be API Licensed/Certified.  Fortunately for consumers who want high performance and high value, the API engine oil certification monopoly is only a voluntary trademark-label-Licensing program that does not matter in vehicle warranties

 

A.  The Confusion in Vehicle Lubrication Requirements

Most consumers are confused and wrongly informed about their vehicle’s lubrication requirements.  The result is that their vehicles break down more often as they age, they wear out in less than half the time they could last, and they use an average 5% more fuel and triple the engine oil than what they really need.

Many automotive drivetrain engineers would say that AMSOIL has been helping people for decades by engineering products that compromise nothing and deliver an excellent balance of the highest possible performance.  One engineer, Tom Stosek, put it this way:  “The question is, what can your lubricant do for YOU?  Satisfy minimum specifications, or achieve maximum performance?”

Online forums can be a helpful source of information, but they can also hurt consumers when the subjects are too complex to handle in these public/member discussion forums, because the communication format is a range from 4 words to 4 paragraphs.  API Certification of engine oils is one of those too-complex subjects, partly because it comes up so often in context of Warranty coverage and Synthetic lubricants – especially synthetic engine oil.  And people can be passionate about both engine oil and warranties.  Throw all three subjects together and it’s so hard to get to the facts that many older forum members refer to them as “oil wars”.

The end result is that forum readers & members are swayed by whoever seems the most convincing, or has been around the forum the longest.  Unfortunately, it’s very rare that the forum “gurus” are automotive engineers.  Complicating matters, OEM’s prohibit their engineers from identifying their OEM affiliation, while not disclosing being an AMSOIL dealer is regarded as deceptive.  So if an automotive engineer who is also an AMSOIL synthetic oil dealer offers information in a forum, they are too often bashed, ignored, or censored with charges that they are ignorant or brainwashed, or are using the forum for commercial purposes.  Most automotive engineers who are AMSOIL Dealers and have the patience and skills and thick skin, don’t have the time or enough online forum space to explain the facts.  (Neither do we, so we created this webpage.)

In addition, there is some extra content added into API Engine Oil Licensing certification that isn’t required by OEM’s – like limits on ZDDP or “Zinc” – which is being used falsely yet effectively to imply that AMSOIL synthetic engine oils damage catalytic converters and void warranties.  For example, a self-proclaimed motor oil expert makes these concluding statements in a “Synthetic Oil” section on his single-web-page called Motor Oil Myths and Facts :

“Never use a non-API certified synthetic oil (there are many of these on the market). The problem with the non-API certified synthetics is that they contain too much phosphorus (in the form of the additive ZDDP (Zinc Dialkyl Dithiophosphates)). The API has limited the amount of phosphorus because phosphorus shortens the life of the catalytic converter. These oils are fine for snowmobiles, motorcycles, and older cars that don’t have a catalytic converter, and the extra ZDDP does provide additional wear protection. Unfortunately, the marketers of some the non-certified oils do not explicitly and honestly state the reason for the lack of API certification… Amsoil has one product line, XL-7500 that is API certified, but it’s other lines contain too much ZDDP to be certified and should not be used in vehicles with catalytic converters.”

This gentlemen’s myth-riddled commentaries on his single webpage make clear that he isn’t an expert, but rather is a collector of years of “tribal knowledge” and petroleum oil company misinformation, such as his referenced source “Lubrication FAQ’s and Myths” at SuperiorPetroleum-dot-com.  Literally applying his advice would mean that no vehicle made in the last 30 years should use high-performance synthetic engine oils.  Is he a Big Oil employee or shareholder with a conflict of interest?  If not, he has fallen prey to the apparent intent of American Petroleum Institute members to limit the marketability of high performance synthetics, never realizing that there’s a total lack of catalytic converter failures.

Since no converters are failing from deposits of oil-additive packages, whether they’re being covered under warranty is a non-question.  Unfortunately, his statement is being quoted/linked in some of the online forums with a conclusion that AMSOIL “has been misleading people for years”, like this example at DodgeDakotas.com  where every discussion comment has been replaced by his half-mythical summary as if it is proven, authoritative fact.  In our view, as automotive engineers, it’s the American Petroleum Institute that has been misleading consumers for years.

Contrasting Reality Check:  This 1999 Chevy Express expediting van has over 1.2 million miles on it, with the original catalytic converter and no converter issues, while using 25,000 mile non-API Licensed Amsoil 0W-30 synthetic engine oil & filter changes.  Note that this oil (Product Code SSO) was rated by Amsoil as a 35,000 mile/1-yr oil in Normal service, and 17,500 miles in Severe service, and contains an optimal level of ZDDP.  No other oil in the world is rated or recommended for a drain interval of 30,000 miles or longer, and oil analysis sampling proves conclusively that in most cases it could go much further with excellent protection.
Lessons from the Million Mile Van

If you are a member of a vehicle forum and would like to help a LOT of people to learn FACTS, and to remain cooler-headed, please post a link to this page.

 

Before we do a “deep-dive” on details in the Second Half, here’s a Q/A summary of common Myths and Facts:

 

B.  First Half:  A Summary of Common Myths and Facts

 

Claim 1:   OEM manuals specifically require use of API Certified or API Licensed lubricants.

             API Licensing Certification protects consumers from loss of warranty coverage.

Myths or Facts?   MYTHs. 

The Facts:

We have yet to see a single Owners Manual that actually requires the use of API Licensed engine oils.  If you see one, please scan the page and e-mail it to us because we want to read it.  “API Certification” or “API Licensed” lubricants are often mentioned in a sentence with defining words such as “should”, or “recommended”.  However, those words are deliberately used because they are very different than “must” or “required” which would be illegal statements.  Adding to the confusion is that the manuals list API/SAE Service Grades with language that includes words like “must” or “required”, and the owners are either led or allowed to assume that API/SAE Service Grades are the same thing as API Licensing.  They are not.

Careful examination of the wording will show that what the OEM requires in the Owners’ Manual is that the oils must meet the API/SAE Service Grade requirements.  Why?  That is the entire purpose of the Service Grades: they are the legally-approved method for the OEM to specify how the lubricants must perform in order to maintain warranty coverage.  Like my Duramax engine owners manual, the OEM may also include a cleverly confusing blend of stating first that API Licensing is Recommended, then saying that the API donut is required showing Service Grades.  In other words, a number of Owners Manuals have adopted (API-suggested?) wording that implies API Licensed oils are a requirement, while also saying they are recommended.  By cleverly implying it’s required, the API and the OEM both get most of the benefits of it being required, without the legal problems of stating that it actually IS a requirement.

The API registered trademarks are the “Marks” of a service “donut” and API “starburst” that appear on the labels of Licensed lubrication products.  The API provides this voluntary, for-profit Licensing program to Certify by means of trademark emblems that an oil meets those minimum requirements, but API emblem Licensing is not a requirement and will not affect warranty coverage. API Certification Starburst and Donut

FACT:  API Licensing Certification is a promotion-for-profit system that has nothing to do with vehicle warranties, but piggybacks on the OEM’s API/SAE Service Grade requirements by selling rights to use their familiar “starburst” and “donut” logos.  The API does not guarantee any performance, and specifically states that the oil manufacturer bears all responsibility for their product performance and quality.

Occasionally we hear of a dealer service department claiming that use of some synthetic or extended drain intervals voids/voided the vehicle warranty, but they are wrong.  They will rarely put that in writing, and the customer’s first phone complaint to the OEM will very likely “restore” the warranty.  Some forum naysayers with no legal expertise will imply that the Magnusson-Moss Act does not protect consumers, and that if they go against the petroleum-oil norms, the burden of proof is on them and shame on them for their gullibility.  Actually, the Magnusson-Moss Act was designed to protect consumers, is well established in legal case law, and the consumer DOES NOT have the burden of proof to maintain the warranty.  The onus is on the Dealership or OEM to prove that the owner voided the warranty because (in this case) the lubricant does not satisfy the API/SAE Service Grade requirements AND to also prove that the lubricant caused the problem.  In other words, unless the dealer/OEM proves that the oil content or condition caused the failure, and states that in writing, the warranty stands.

And of course, oil doesn’t cause things to break, is almost never the problem, and in all of Amsoil’s history has never once been “the problem”.  For example, running a vehicle for 500 miles with the check-engine light on and no oil in the pan won’t be covered under warranty, but it wasn’t the brand, type, grade or drain interval of the engine oil that caused the engine to seize up.

 

Claim 2:   Extended motor oil drain intervals will void the warranty.  You can use a 25,000 mile oil, but you still have to change it at the OEM interval to avoid voiding the warranty.

Myth or Fact?  MYTH.

The Facts:  First, unless the failure is specifically oil related (extremely rare), the OEM cannot void the warranty.  Second, the OEM has to prove (not the consumer) that the oil caused the problem, using engineering failure analysis tools and testing.  Third, what the OEM requires is that the oil must meet the requirements of the API/SAE Service Grade(s) which they have determined are needed for their engine.  The OEM oil drain intervals are established based on petroleum oils that barely meet the minimum API/SAE Service Grade requirements in the ASTM tests.  However, when using a lubricant such as an AMSOIL 25,000 mile fully synthetic oil that is rated for 15,000 miles in Severe Duty applications, AMSOIL is stating and warranties as tested fact that the engine oil will still meet the API/SAE Service Grade requirements at the end of that mileage when used in reasonably healthy (normal) engines that are not identified as sludge-prone engines made in the 1999-2004 period.

An extra-measure of peace-of-mind is available by doing an oil sampling analysis just prior to the oil change at the mileage you’re going to change it at, because that establishes a laboratory record proving beyond all doubt that the oil exceeded the minimum performance requirements at all times in your own engine, under your driving conditions.  (Many API Licensed motor oils won’t pass minimum requirements in some engines by the time you get your oil changed at the OEM interval.)

 

Claim 3:   If the dealer says you’ve voided the warranty by using a high-performance synthetic motor oil and/or extending the drain interval, there’s nothing you can do but pay a big repair bill out of your own pocket!

A common online forum conclusion: Oooh – be very afraid – is that giant risk really worth using a synthetic oil?  (Gasp! Run away!!)

Myth or Fact?  MYTH.

The Facts:

Such a dealer stance is from a wrongly informed employee, or is a bully position, or is a poker bluff.  In any case, you win if you simply know the facts and your rights, and stand your ground with confidence.  Because the OEM will not back them, and you can always take your business to a dealer who doesn’t play games with you.

“The use of a dramatically superior synthetic lubricant is a dramatically superior choice that does NOT cause failures nor cause the OEM to deny warranty coverage, and the few Dealer service managers who claim otherwise are simply wrong – and wouldn’t dare put their statements in writing.  A dealer employee may claim that using a vastly superior AMSOIL engine oil voids the warranty because it isn’t API Licensed, but that’s logically ridiculous and completely false, both scientifically and legally. ”
Brian Dobben – Mechanical Engineer, former Senior Engineer – Chrysler Headquarters

Just because a Dealer employee says so (perhaps misinterpreting an owners’ manual reference to API Certified oils) does not mean that the OEM will not honor the warranty.  It merely means the Dealer employee is wrong.  If the customer calls the OEM and complains about such falsehood, it will almost certainly turn the dealer around.  lf not, AMSOIL’s legal department enjoys contacting them for you. 

“If engine damage otherwise covered by warranty was found to be unrelated to the engine lubricant, then the consumer’s practice with regard to oil change intervals would not be a relevant consideration, and the warranty claim would be honored.”
Fuels and Lubricants Division, General Motors Research Laboratories

Suggested courses of action for consumers who are given a hard time by a dealer service employee, or denied warranty coverage:

  1. Request that they pull two oil samples from the vehicle immediately, to have one tested by their lab, and for you to test the other sample at a lab of your choice.
  2. Request that all affected original parts be protected from contamination so that they can be examined and analyzed.
  3. Request their position in writing.
  4. Ask that the vehicle dealer review the oil sample test results with you and with the OEM failure-analysis department to demonstrate where the oil is out of specification and explain how it has caused damage to occur.
  5. Call your AMSOIL dealer and/or AMSOIL. Here is AMSOIL’s warranty for use of their products.

These requests will probably have the dealer changing their tune within 15 minutes, because they demonstrate that you know they have the burden of proof, that you won’t be treated like a patsy, and that you will require them to put their position in writing and prove it. {No cost to you, but an expensive waste of money for them.}  If you’re using AMSOIL lubricants, AMSOIL’s legal department loves the opportunity to fire off a statement to any car dealer with an employee who’s telling customers that synthetics will void the warranty.  But in addition, the Amsoil product warranty outlines the way to help assemble the strongest possible stance to back off the dealer (or the OEM, in very rare cases) and get proper warranty coverage.

Important questions to consider:

Does it make any logical sense to deny warranty coverage due to use of a product of vastly superior performance that is test-proven to dramatically exceed the OEM’s requirements?

[No, and it’s also illegal in the USA, violating the Magnusson-Moss Act.]

Does it make any logical sense to deny warranty coverage due to use of a product which is completely unrelated to the warranty failure?

[No, and it’s also illegal in the USA, violating the Magnusson-Moss Act.]

 

Claim 4:   High performance, high quality engine oils will always have the API Certification “starburst” and Service “donut” on the package.

Myth or Fact?  MYTH.

The Facts:

API Certification is nothing more than paying licensing fees for permission to pay a royalty for every gallon sold, in order to use their Trademarked consumer graphic symbols on the packaging.  Not only can mediocre oils be API Licensed which barely pass the minimum standards, but the highest performing engine oils specifically cannot be licensed.  Further, the entire API licensing system is actually designed to aid petroleum oil companies in creating, licensing and marketing minimum-performance petroleum engine oils.  Here’s why:

Minimum Performance = Lowest Oil Production Costs + Most Frequent Oil Changes = Maximum Profits

API Licensing Certification is a for-profit system of permission to use those trademarked marketing symbols, and by its’ own admission in the defining API1509 EOLCS spec (Engine Oil Licensing and Certification System), is designed only to validate minimum performance:API Starburst certifies that rolyalties have been paid to verify minimum performance

“The API Certification Mark may be licensed only if an oil satisfies the requirements of the most recent… minimum performance standards…” (2.2.1)

The same is true of the ILSAC standards which the API will also License, as seen in the title of the standard “THE ILSAC MINIMUM PERFORMANCE STANDARD FOR PASSENGER CAR ENGINE OILS – ILSAC GF-4”.  So even though the ASTM tests measure performance accurately and extensively, API Licensing marks indicate only minimum performance, never maximum performance.  In fact, API Licensed oils are restricted (prevented) from being high-performance thru cleverly justified limits on additives for wear-prevention and long-life. [Detailed below.]

 

Claim 5:  The API Certification guarantees that the oils are good performance. API Licensing Certification protects consumers from poor quality oils.

Myth or Fact?   MYTH.

The Facts:

The API guarantees nothing, and both the API and ILSAC note that it’s only the oil marketer who has “the responsibility for meeting all specified requirements for any products the marketer sells in the marketplace which are licensed as ILSAC GF-4 with the API.” (ILSAC GF-4 Standard, January 14, 2004, pg 3.)  Further, regarding the Viscosity Grade Read Across and Base Oil Interchange Guidelines which most oil companies use to dramatically reduce testing costs by testing only one oil in each product family, they also state: “It should be pointed out, however, that when oil marketers use the Guidelines, they do so based on their own judgment and at their own risk.”

Further, the API does not design performance standards or tests, and the API does not conduct testing.  API/SAE Service Grades were jointly established to protect both the OEM’s and consumers from premature equipment failure (occurring under warranty, when the OEM faces many millions of dollars in losses).

The mission and goals of the API are not consumer oriented.  Here’s how the API officially defines itself in the API 1509 EOLCS:

“American Petroleum Institute (API): A trade association that promotes U.S. petroleum interests, encourages development of petroleum technology, cooperates with the government in matters of national concern, and provides information on the petroleum industry to the government and the public.”

What is API Licensing or Certification? 

Again, according to the API’s introduction in the 1509 EOLCS:

“This publication describes the voluntary API Engine Oil Licensing and Certification System (EOLCS) and is intended to explain to marketers how different API Marks are licensed and displayed for the consumer.”

Get that?  Translation:  API Certification is voluntary, and it’s about making money by licensing the use of API Marks for marketing purposes.  So although API Licensing Certification is not in any way required for OEM warranties, it’s in the financial interests of the API to create and maintain that illusion.  That’s clever marketing.

The API is somewhat like the NFL.  First, the NFL licenses their member’s team’s emblems, and they try to make sure the quality of the products are reasonably good, but their licensing mark in no way guarantees that NFL team hats, jerseys, folding chairs, clocks or beer mugs are the highest quality products on the market.  All the NFL licensing guarantees is that the NFL gets their cut from the sale, and that if anyone dares to fake NFL licensing, they are risking some big legal settlement costs.  AND, in the same way that the NFL License on a jersey doesn’t certify that the Bengals will have a great season, or that Green Bay will be in the Super Bowl, the API Licensing “starburst” symbol does NOT certify that you’re getting a high performance product.

But for consumers the situation is really much worse than that.  Imagine this twilight-zone nightmare:

What if NFL games were played by letting fans know when each team exceeded a minimum number of yards ran and yards passed, but won’t tell fans the actual stats for either the teams or the players, won’t recognize the best offensive or defensive player, won’t compare quarterback performance, and won’t even tell us which team won… because “both teams won” by paying franchise fees and profit percentages to the NFL?

Yes it sounds crazy, yet that’s basically how the API plays their Licensing game!

And since they own their Trademarks, the API makes the rules for use of their Trademarks.  What API licensing rules mean for you is this: when you pick up a bottle of API Certified “Starburst” trademark engine oil off the store shelf, you could be holding one of the worst-performing oils on the market – but you have no way of knowing it… unless you happen to find it in one of AMSOIL’s comparative performance testing lineups.

Consumer-voice API score: Zero!

The API Licensing Certification program has no significant content, mechanisms, or representation to protect or advance the best interests of consumers.  Instead, it appears to be designed (our opinion) to advance three primary goals:

  1. Protect the profits and sales of petroleum oil companies against educated consumers by “certifying” products that exceed minimum performance, and by deliberately NOT identifying high performance (even though it’s measured and tested), and by restricting key content that is required to attain maximum performance.  This is not pro-consumer.
  2. Protect the vehicle OEM’s profits by avoiding failures during the warranty period, and by encouraging wear-rates that are consistent with planned-obsolescence goals for vehicle replacement/repair (by restricting wear additive levels).
  3. Protect the profits and sales of petroleum oil companies against synthetic oil manufacturers by creating a an unreasonably and deliberately stacked deck against the true synthetic lubricants which represent both the highest performance and the greatest value for consumers, as well as the most responsible environmental choice:
    1. API Licensing does not allow long drain intervals or low wear rates (by restricting additive content rather than limiting actual catalytic converter or DPF exposure based on levels that are demonstrated to cause an issue).
    2. API Licensing does not allow the same common-sense “read across” and base-oil interchangeability guidelines for Group IV or V synthetics that all petroleum oils enjoy.  This is despite the fact that Group IV and V synthetics are FAR more uniform in their properties than refined petroleum oils: if licensing was structured on technical common-sense, it would be the synthetics that got full use of the interchangeability guidelines.  [These guidelines allow entire families of petroleum oils to be certified across multiple oils by testing only one. However, synthetics must do complete testing for every oil formulation variant.]

This licensing structure accomplishes four things in the Wall-Street and Madison Avenue spirits of commercial protectionism, monopolies, and maximum profits from consumer pockets:

  1. It multiplies total synthetic certification costs by several times vs the inferior petroleum oils.
  2. It restricts introduction of superior new additive formulations in synthetics by requiring all-new recertification for every single product or viscosity which will use the modified additive package.
  3. It prohibits oils with long drain intervals or very low wear rates from being licensed.
  4. It rewards highest profits to unchanging formulations which do not advance to use newer, improved technologies (because they never need to re-test and re-certify).  [Hint: the worst performing oils to use may very well be the ones your dad has used for years.]

Requests have been made to lessen these obstructions on many occasions, but the API stands firm.

That is an overview of API certification licensing.  Going deeper than this will require explaining how the API works together with the SAE and ASTM.  In the 2nd half of this article, we will explain how the three engineering bodies of the SAE, ASTM, and API function together in defining oil requirements, testing oil performance, and licensing emblems for product labels.

In summary, the API Licenses oils which will somewhat exceed the mediocre minimum needs that OEMs anticipate.  These minimum standards are often a costly problem for consumers, though rarely understood.  But sometimes they are also a costly problem for OEMs when they underestimate the minimum requirements. The auto industry has painfully faced the penalty of allowing mediocre oil performance in more than four million 1997 – 2004 engines that are prone to fatal levels of oil sludging when using API certified oils at OEM drain intervals.  It’s worth mentioning that Amsoil’s non-API-certified synthetic oils are being recognized as the best defense against oil sludge in these engines, as Saab experts have noted.  Of course, the standard ASTM test measurement data for SAE Service Grades clearly predicts that superiority, but the API Licensing only considers exceeding the minimum requirements and is completely silent on dramatically exceeding them.

Special Notes on Engine Sludge:

This sludging problem is known to affect over 4.5 million engines from many OEMs, covering a range from 1997 to 2004 model years.  Download this engine_sludge_issues Technical Service Bulletin (TSB) to see if your engine is affected, and how to best rescue your engine from further damage and potential failure.  However, since these issues were produced by changes made to meet new EPA emissions requirements, other engines from that time period may also be affected to various degrees depending on engine design, driving habits and the history of engine oil used.  In general, the best protection for these engines is obtained by this procedure to change over to AMSOIL:

  1. Install a new sacrificial oil filter for the cleaning procedure.
  2. Fully warm up the engine.
  3. Install a bottle of AMSOIL Engine and Transmission Flush as recommended into the warm engine, and run for 20 minutes (preferably at “high idle”, which for gas engines is often around 1,000 – 1,200 rpm).
  4. Perform a full oil-and-filter change using an AMSOIL XL series oil and Ea oil filter.

The flush procedure cleans existing sludge out of the engine in a controlled manner, so that pieces of sludge do not plug the oil passages, the oil pickup screen or the oil filter during normal driving.  We also recommend observing the oil on the dipstick after the first thousand miles: one Flush treatment is normally adequate, but if the oil is black then it indicates that the oil is continuing to clean sludge out of the engine.  In this case, you can either perform another flush procedure, or use shorter 1,000 to 3,000 mile oil changes until the oil appears relatively clean.

The XL series oils offer AMSOIL’s stellar cleaning, protection and performance, but they are not priced and formulated with long drain intervals.  So they are a very cost-effective solution for sludge-prone engines which require more typical oil change intervals.  Needed oil-and-filter-change intervals can range from 3,000 to 10,000 miles and are limited to four or six months: see the TSB link above for recommendations for your specific engine.  If you want to use extended AMSOIL drain intervals in such an engine after the extended OEM warranty has expired, we recommend gradually extending drain intervals using oil sampling analysis.

Engines made during 1997-2004 which are not on the sludge-prone engine list can safely use AMSOIL’s extended drain interval oils up to 25,000 miles or one year, but we recommend first following the flush procedure when AMSOIL has not already been in use in the engine.

Claim 6:   Most Amsoil products contain too much ZDDP to be certified by the API, and these additive levels do not meet manufacturers specifications.  The API limit on the amount of ZDDP was put in place because the phosphorus in the ZDDP shortens the life of the catalytic converter: the more ZDDP, the shorter the life of the catalytic converter.  So the API set lower limits to avoid causing catalytic converter failure, and the non-API certified AMSOIL products should not be used in vehicles with catalytic converters. Unfortunately Amsoil has not been honest about the reason that only a few of their oils are API Certified.

Myth or Fact?  MYTH.API Starburst certifies that rolyalties have been paid to verify minimum performance

The Facts:  The OEM’s and the SAE are not the ones specifying these lower levels.  The API essentially built a theoretical “molehill” into a sacred mountain of digital/online concern, while the molehill has never been found.  They latched onto an early OEM research concern for the potential of CAT problems with the newer “high-density” catalytic converter “bricks” used in PZEV and ZLEV gas-engine vehicles, and later for 2007+ Diesel engine Particulate Filters (DPF’s).  They used those theoretically possible effects (from small amounts of oil getting burned by the engine) as an excuse to set lower limits of key additives rather than require lower volatility from low-quality petroleum oil formulations.  But there was no data showing the lower limits are needed, and time has generated hundreds of millions of miles in fleet vehicles which demonstrate that it’s a non-issue.

If AMSOIL actually shortens catalytic converter life, then how could the Million Mile Van travel over a million miles on the original catalytic converter using AMSOIL without any issue whatsoever?

Lessons from the Million Mile Van

Amsoil formulations are targeted specifically to produce the best results and highest performance that technology will allow, and the formulations are optimized.  They are specifically engineered to be well-balanced based on vehicle oil analysis sampling (OAS) data and fleet maintenance, not on baseless fears that serve as convenient excuses to put competitors at a disadvantage.

What is the difference between optimal levels of ZDDP and the API’s restriction level that was set by the petro-oil companies?  Is it three times higher?  Ten times higher?    NO.   The difference… is roughly 20%.

The SAE (Society of Automotive Engineers) and the OEMs do not agree with the API that these lower limits are necessary, because while a theoretical problem was identified as possible, there is not enough supporting data to indicate that the impact is even measurable.  The overwhelming amount of accumulated converter contamination is from fuel content, which the engine burns a lot of, rather than from engine oil, which healthy engines burn very little of.  Since no-one has heard of any oil-consumption issues with catalytic converter failure, nor seen any data supporting a possibility that AMSOIL’s high-performance synthetics are causing a shortening in catalytic converter life in closely monitored fleets, most informed observers have concluded that the American PETROLEUM Institute has established and maintained lower Zinc and Phosphorus levels purely to restrict the marketability of high performance true synthetics that directly compete with re-defined petroleum “synthetics”.

Unfortunately, the API has not honestly acknowledged the reasons AMSOIL will not downgrade their product performance and formulations to the API’s self-serving levels of mediocrity.

It is no secret in the lubrication industry that AMSOIL doggedly formulates for the greatest possible overall performance benefits, and will not compromise that pride of excellence and that commitment to consumers.  And it’s no secret that the API is a petroleum oil organization.  So it is our opinion that the API cleverly chose new additive limits that would require AMSOIL to dumb down their product performance to look almost like petroleum oils – if they wanted to get API Certification.

Because the API is an organization selling Licenses to use their trademark symbols, they can set whatever rules they want.  However, another business goal of the API is to strengthen the myth that API Certification is THE requirement for warranty coverage.  But this is a marketing deception: there is no such OEM mandate.

Establishing clear warranty coverage requirements is why every OEM specifies the API/SAE Service Grade(s) they require – and that is the reason the Service Grades were developed. [More detail below.]

 

Claim 7:   Every oil company offers synthetics these days, and they aren’t that big a performance improvement over petroleum oils.

Myth or Fact?  MYTH.

The Facts:

First, in America (the USA), most “synthetics” on the shelves aren’t synthetic, but are petroleum.  As noted in Wikipedia on Synthetic Oil, “Group III based lubricants are not allowed to be marketed as “synthetic” in any market outside of the USA.”  That didn’t used to be the case: prior to 1999, “synthetic” had to mean a true Group IV or V base stock in the USA.  But in a late-90’s legal clash between Castrol and Exxon-Mobil, the big-oil companies realized that if they quietly redefined what “synthetic” meant, they could make it legal to perform a classic “bait and switch” scam on the American public.  By agreeing to call Group III petroleum base-stocks “synthetic”, they could sell petroleum oil to the public at a much higher profit margin, while still justifying the repeat business of fairly short drain intervals.  This opened a veritable flood of petroleum “synthetics” to hit American shelves.  As a result, Big Oil is profiting by hijacking decades of synthetic companies’ investments in consumer education, and, consumers and fleets are paying the price.

Second, the Group III petroleum “synthetics” are not designed with highest-performance additive packages, because they are all Licensed to use API marketing symbols by the American Petroleum Institute, and API Licensing restricts some additive content to mediocre levels that are 20-50% below what is required for optimal performance.

Third, true synthetics (Group IV/V) demonstrate clear performance advantages over petroleum oils.  The synthetic base stock oil performs at least a little better across the board than a group III, is more durable, and typically uses a higher quality additive package.  AMSOIL manufactures using mostly true Group IV and V base-stock synthetics, which perform at levels from equal to far above the best Group III petroleum oils, in every important measured test standard.  That is true as a fundamental fact.  Why?  Since petroleum oils are refined from crude oil, there are a vast variety of hydrocarbon chains that must be systematically narrowed to more favorable content: someone has to decide how refined is refined enough, and at what cost.  True synthetics are completely different, because a manufacturing process builds oil basestocks by replicating very uniform molecular designs which are ideal for lubricating with endurance under harsh conditions.

An oil’s Recommended Drain Interval is probably the single biggest indicator of overall quality, performance, and value:  if I can buy a 25,000 mile true Group IV/V synthetic oil for $9 a quart (that cuts my wear rates by 70%), why would I spend $7 a quart for a 10,000 mile “synthetic” Group III petroleum oil that is recommended to be changed at the OEM manual’s 7,500 miles?  I wouldn’t – it makes no sense.  And that’s why petroleum oil companies focus on marketing instead of engineered performance.

So here’s the “final score”:

  • The FACTS are ASTM test data including oil performance tests (like these) and fleet oil sampling analysis, not baseless marketing claims and hyped fears.
  • The HEROS are AMSOIL staff and Dealers, and a number of OEM engineers, who have persisted for so long in providing superb products and honest engineering data to the public.
  • The EXPERTS are the engineering staff and technicians at AMSOIL, and a few OEM engineers, who have devoted so much persistent professional excellence in creatively improving products and letting the public know the truth about leading lubrication technology.
  • The MANIPULATORS are the petroleum oil companies and the API, who have elevated emotional and deceptive marketing to an art form, and are apparently too blind and greedy to consider better options than deceiving the public and overselling oil-changes which contribute disastrously to polluted water supplies.

 

C.  Second Half – the “Deep Dive”:  API Licensing Certification Explained,
with Introduction to the SAE and ASTM

API Certification Starburst and Donut

Here’s a One-Paragraph Summary of How API Licensing Works:

First, engine oils are subjected to a number of ASTM lab tests at the arrangement and expense of the oil company (“marketer”).  Then they submit those test results with application paperwork and licensing fees to the API, promising that the tests and paperwork are accurate, and the API looks it over and grants Licenses to use the certification “starburst” and the API/SAE Service “donut” symbol on the product packaging. The fees include application fees, plus an agreement to pay royalties on every gallon of oil that is sold in containers with the API Marks on it.

Now, how does everything work in the engineering world of lubrication standards and development?

Perhaps the most recognized book on this subject is the Automotive Lubricants Reference Book (authors Roger Haycock, Arthur J. Caines, and John E. Hillier).  But here’s a brief primer on the situation:

In the United States there are three primary engineering groups involved, sometimes called the Tripartite, who represent three different industry segments.  Each group plays a role in the lubrication standards:

  1. The SAE or Society of Automotive Engineers.  Now a worldwide organization, some of their standards, such as the J300 standard for viscosity (i.e. SAE 5W-30), have been adopted as international ISO standards.  SAE members are most often in the automotive industry, but span all three automotive Tiers, OEM’s, and many industries and scientific disciplines in both R&D and manufacturing.  The SAE’s primary lubrication role is to define and publish the needed ASTM test results (performance standards) for the various API/SAE Service Grades.
  2. The ASTM (that’s their actual name now, but the initials originally came from the American Society for Testing and Materials).  ASTM is involved in a broad range of activities, but in lubrication their chief role is to devise, refine, standardize and publish tests and methods that will accurately measure the physical properties or performance characteristics of lubricants.  They also establish standard practices for common details or assumptions in how tests should be performed.  Their work ensures that accurate and meaningful test results can be duplicated in hundreds of labs around the world. The SAE and API work together with them in defining the tests, to help the test results be as predictive as possible of the likely “real world” fleet testing results.
  3. The API or American Petroleum Institute.  They devised the two-letter engine oil service classification codes, split into oils for gas and diesel engines.  (Examples: SJ, SH, CI-4.)  Some oils meet specifications for both gas and diesel engines, so their service grade codes include both.
    API’s Engine oil and gear lube publications are available here for free download: http://new.api.org/certifications/engineoil/pubs/index.cfm

These are generalities.  In practice there is also overlap and coordinating activities between these organizations, particularly through top-level committee work where ILSAC is also involved.  The International Lubricant Standardization and Approval Committee (ILSAC) is a worldwide group working toward more comprehensive international standards, whose main members are Ford, Chrysler, GM, and the Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association – or JAMA.  In addition, for API Certification they specify that the lab practices, test stand operations, engine test sequences, test audits, and administrative and record-keeping procedures are governed by the American Chemistry Council (ACC) Petroleum Additives Panel document called “Product Approval Code of Practice” (the 133 page ACC Code).  Interestingly, this ACC Code also overlaps far into API Certification and labeling regulations.  We’re not going to add ILSAC and ACC complexity into this summary.  But it may be useful to read the introductory pages of the latest GF-4 specification, because it gives some idea of how engineers balance and consider the results of physical property and performance tests, engine sequence tests, and actual results in fleet testing (using primarily oil analysis sampling, with engine teardown inspections as warranted or desired).  The specification can be found here:

http://www.ilma.org/resources/ilsac_finalstd011404.pdf

 

API and ASTM Testing Used

How is the testing set up, and what does it all mean?  The API does not define or design tests, and performs very little testing.  Nearly all the lubricant tests performed are ASTM tests (listed below), and cover three general categories measuring chemical properties, physical properties, and physical performance under conditions of specified stress, together referred to as “bench tests” – as opposed to vehicle fleet testing.

These ASTM tests are used to “set the bar” for what the minimum requirement levels will be for a new API Service Grade classification.

Most of the physical performance tests are designed to measure single specific performance characteristics under controlled conditions.  Most of these “bench tests” are low to moderate cost.  However, the engine “sequence” tests run actual engines on a laboratory test stand under high load conditions for many hours (60 or 80 hrs for example, but can be much longer), and they include a sequence of individual ASTM tests that measure a number of oil performance and stability indicators during and/or after the engine test.

So the extensive non-engine tests in the ASTM D series consume most of the engine oil development and certification time, and are performed regularly around the world in hundreds of labs.  These tests measure a broad range of oil properties (sometimes obscure properties), and even include tests to evaluate seal and gasket compatibility.  Then, there are the engine “sequence” tests using engine test stands that are painstakingly certified & approved, whose engines get fully measured and rebuilt like new after every test run.  There are only a handful of engine test stands around the world.  Engine sequence tests are very expensive, ranging from $50,000 to 500,000 USD for one test run, because they include engine build, teardown, and measurement/replacement of engine components that takes additional time.

The idea behind the sequence tests is to get some engine lubrication observations much faster than in the real-world fleet-testing using oil sampling analysis and engine teardowns.  This is especially useful in developing new oils to marginally exceed the minimums in new SAE Service Grade classifications, allowing for the highest oil profits through the cheapest additive packages.  Sequence tests are designed to identify how quickly the oil will fail under severe conditions, and to make sure it passes a minimum time before it fails. 

Fleet oil analysis sampling (OAS) is much more accurate and valuable than sequence testing, of course, but it takes many months and many vehicles to generate adequate data.  In contrast, engine Sequence tests are designed to get a useful picture of approximate performance under stressful conditions, within weeks.  And for purposes of Certification, sequence test data is far more controlled and stable: all variables are controlled so that there is much less risk of data errors or intentional data manipulation. The two big downsides to engine Sequence testing are the cost of running the tests, and the years of work (costing tens of millions of dollars) that it takes to develop and refine a good sequence test.

For a list of the ASTM tests that are used, with their test D-number and name description, see pages 21-24 of the API’s 1509 EOLCS:  I counted 43 tests listed, from D 92 through D 6922, which includes a few engine sequence tests, and the four separately listed Sequence engine tests. The API Licensing process can also require results from two GM tests, and uses twelve international reference documents that include four SAE specs, and the ACC Code. [A list of these tests are included below for reference, and we have highlighted tests that Amsoil frequently publishes data from.]

Fast Fact:

True synthetic engine oils equal or outperform petroleum oil in
every relevant ASTM test, sometimes by dramatic margins.
(True synthetics – as still defined outside the USA – use Group IV or V base stocks.)

There is no doubt that the API grew out of a very real need to establish lubrication service standards for automobiles and equipment.  And the consumers, the OEM’s, and the oil companies are agreed on that need.  But what is the API really all about today?  That’s an interesting question.

The API claims over 500 licensees fielding more than 8,000 products worldwide with API Marks, and collects license registration fees on each product, plus trademark royalties on each gallon sold.  With so much money & profit involved in international commerce, and API committee members and chairmen representing so many different companies, it’s not all as straightforward as it seems on the surface.  Insider comments and anecdotal stories suggest a veritable soap-opera of posturing and multiple layers of hidden agendas and strategic positioning, mostly disguised behind neutrally-voiced professional concerns of questionable relevance.  Everyone wants to make more money, and ultimately everyone at the table makes it from the consumers.  Very few players want to deliver superior value to their customers: most want to deliver “superior” marketing to manipulate consumers for superior profits on products of marginal performance.  [If that sounds like the entire DNC, Washington insider, and labor Union approach to normal citizens, you’ve got the idea: fleece everyone, while hiding behind impersonal immunity.]

From the viewpoint of a consumer and an engineer, here’s a tempting perspective:

Why should petroleum oil companies settle for the profits of pumping crude oil, running refineries, and maintaining some of the highest profit margins in the free world, if you can increase those profits still more by creating an API “starburst” logo and information “donut” that uses the work of the SAE, ASTM, and American Chemistry Council to define most of the needs and all the tests for you, and then license that “starburst” Mark (a Trademarked graphic design) in such a way that you make lots of money from it with zero liability for product performance AND at the same time design licensing restrictions to create marketplace barriers that make people and companies suspicious of using dramatically superior synthetic products, creating false assumptions that your inferior petroleum products are best and the superior synthetic products are risky and unproven.  What a genius idea!

Three suspicious areas reinforce this possible scenario.

  1. The API’s “APPENDIX E – API BASE OIL INTERCHANGEABILITY GUIDELINES FOR PASSENGER CAR MOTOR OILS AND DIESEL ENGINE OILS”.  The guide verifies the validity and need for base oil interchangeability, and even allows it for the wildly varying Group III basestocks, yet still prohibits applying this longstanding and proven concept to the most controllable and predictable quality of all: Group IV and V synthetic base stocks.
  2. The API’s handling of read-across certifications mysteriously cannot be applied to Group IV or V (true synthetic) base stocks – despite higher performance and far greater ease of control of base-stock properties than petroleum oils.
  3. The artificially low limits on Zinc and ash content that minimize wear and maximize TBN (Total Base Number) for the longest drain intervals.  The API maintains these lowered limits for oils it Licenses, despite clear logical objections and the fact that the SAE and OEM’s do not require the Zinc limits for Service Grades.  The API continues to nurse the illusion that the lower Zinc limit is needed to protect the life of Catalytic Converters (CAT) and Diesel Particulate Filters (DPF’s), despite knowledge that the vast majority of CAT and DPF contamination comes through fuel, and despite the lack of any vehicle/fleet evidence that the engine oil contributes enough Zinc contamination to warrant such low levels.  Further, the API ignores the requests that the permissible levels be adjusted based on the NOAK volatility and/or the actual additive compounds, which could directly base the limits on the contaminate exposure levels actually producing issues in the CAT or DPF.

By maintaining these three positions in their Licensing and Certification standards, the API creates a cleverly stacked playing field in which high-performance synthetics can never be Certified – a status that can be conveniently ridiculed or brought under suspicion in the public mind, while pretending to be objectively concerned.  Instead, the only avenue open to synthetics is to “dumb down” the formulations to join the good-ole-boys club of the American Petroleum Institute, and perform only slightly better than their petroleum bedfellows?

Does that kind of certification have any value whatsoever for high-performance synthetics?

What the API Should Develop to be Pro-Consumer:

If the API really had the public’s interests in mind, why wouldn’t they create a system of performance ranking numbers based on actual test results, publish those numbers, and allow oil manufacturers to include those numbers on their product labels?   Similar to tire performance ranking, consumers could see rankings for valuable attributes like Oil Drain Interval, Wear Test, Volatility (oil usage), and Cold Cranking Simulator (cold temperature starting and protection) – something that would take the valuable ASTM test measurements and fleet oil sampling analysis results, and make them visible in a way that allows the public to shop based on maximum performance and best value instead of minimum performance and best marketing.

Oh, but that would turn the petroleum lube industry on its head, extend vehicle life, sell less petroleum oil, and put Amsoil into large double-digit annual growth!  I guess we can’t have that, can we?  [See comparative ASTM test results for various competitive synthetic oils here.]

Until then, we’ll keep educating consumers about the maximum performance and value that AMSOIL insists on engineering into their non-API-Licensed synthetic engine oils.

 

Summary on AMSOIL and API Certification

When the subject of API Certification of AMSOIL lubricants comes up in internet forums, the rumors and myths fly.  Thankfully, with the background information above, we can now explain the facts more clearly than has been possible before.

OEMs require that engine oils meet the SAE Service Grades, but they do not and cannot require that the API itself has Licensed/Certified/Trademarked them to the minimum requirements.

The American Petroleum Institute and it’s Engine Oil Licensing and Certification System (API 1509 EOLCS) is controlled by the international petroleum companies, who have intense business incentives to keep the public from understanding actual lubricant technology capabilities and the inherently superior value of high-performance synthetics.   This gross profit-bias can easily be seen in the history of oil drain intervals.  Over 40 years ago the first 25,000 mile synthetic was produced by AMSOIL, because of one man’s dream to bring the best possible synthetic lubrication technologies out of aerospace and into automotive.  When Mobil 1 was introduced in response, its’ initial claim of 25,000 miles was soon changed to the OEM recommendation.  Then in the last decade as OEM’s have pushed to 5,000 to 12,000 mile drain intervals per onboard monitoring (GM’s average 8,500 miles) because of improved lubrication technology and service grades, Big Oil has unethically continued to push 3,000 mile oil drains through their quick-lube chains.  GM and the State of California got so disgusted that they jointly started a campaign to educate consumers and get them to abandon 3,000 mile drain intervals.  And GM has advocated 30,000 mile drain intervals.  Meanwhile, some of the very same oils have long been used in Europe for standard 10,000 – 20,000 mile oil drains. Seen as a whole, it’s obvious that protecting gargantuan profits is far more important to petro oil companies than environmental or consumer responsibilities.

In order to profit from the public’s growing thirst for the better performance of synthetics, Big Oil successfully redefined the industry’s official definition of “synthetic” in the American market, and has seen very attractive profit increases from selling high-grade petroleum products as “synthetics” since 1999.  In order to choke the rise of high-performance synthetics, Big Oil has been very effective in two key strategies:  in fostering the belief that API Licensing/Certification is a required and exclusive proof of oil quality and performance, and in making it impossible and/or prohibitively expensive to License high-performance synthetic oils using the API’s EOLCS and starburst Mark.

In order to counteract this monopolistic advantage, AMSOIL continues to educate Dealers and consumers, and has taken three strategic steps:

(1) They became known as the King of comparative testing by publishing the most performance-predictive ASTM test results, compared against the name-brand API Certified oils.  And combined with their focus on using the best possible technology,

(2) they have constantly developed and used the most extensive fleet oil sampling data in the industry to improve and refine product performance.  Together, these two elements make engine Sequence testing pointless – except for humor and shock value… and consumer education.

Archive example of AMSOIL in a triple-length Sequence IIIF API/ASTM test
Archive example of AMSOIL in a triple-length Sequence IIIF API/ASTM test

Making this point huge, AMSOIL’s published data from an incredible triple-length Sequence IIIF engine test proved that one of their most popular synthetic engine oils would never fail the Sequence Test regardless of how long the engine ran: a result that isn’t “supposed” to happen.  Lab technicians were astounded because they had never seen such performance in the lab’s years of running the test.  Extending the test to a triple-length duration (never done before) showed that rather than failing, the oil viscosity simply flatlined in the midrange, about 60% below the failure threshold.  [See chart at right, or view latest AMSOIL tests here and historical AMSOIL test reports here.]  These results demonstrate that the Sequence testing is a big waste of time and money for both AMSOIL and their consumers.  Why?  Because both the fleet testing and the primary ASTM bench tests show such large performance leads against leading engine oils… oils which had passed the mediocre requirements of an 80-hour sequence test.

At the same time, AMSOIL realized that many consumers are mentally trapped in the illusions of (non-existent) warranty requirements for API Certification, or shorter oil-drain intervals. And most auto service centers have difficulty understanding the business advantages of truly serving their customers by providing long oil-drain intervals.  So…

(3) AMSOIL chose to provide the XL and OE series of inexpensive API Certified oils that perform to the maximum that the API Licensing limitations will allow due to their superimposed additive restrictions.  However, because these inexpensive (Group III petroleum “synthetic”) oils are de-formulated in order to be API Licensed, they cannot perform at the long drain intervals or reach the lowest wear rates of AMSOIL’s primary true-synthetic lubricants.

 

ZDDP and Ash Poisoning of Catalytic Converters and Diesel Particulate Filters (DPF’s):

Some of the sharper people in online forums have latched onto the API’s stance on limiting levels of ZDDP to restrict exposure of the Cat and DPF bricks to Zinc and Phosphorous, and note that Amsoil’s (expensive) non-API certified oils all have additive levels that exceed newer API Licensing restrictions. Then, they often assume and announce Amsoil as being irresponsible, and assume and announce emissions repair costs that are not under warranty, all without understanding the full context of Amsoil’s position or statements, all without seeing converter failures, and all without entering the debate that exists on the validity of the lowered limits.

Our Summary:  The API has been effective in creating a fake issue over additive levels that are “too high” and using it against AMSOIL and consumers by creating fear/worry for the exclusive advantage of petroleum companies.  But catalytic converter “poisoning” or “plugging” remains a non-issue and the Million Mile Van is one one clear proof that Amsoil does not shorten catalytic converter life: at last check, the odometer was over 1.2 M miles and still never any problem with the original catalytic converter.  But more significantly, these theoretical reductions in catalytic converter service life have remained invisible in hundreds of millions of fleet service miles.  If customers can use 25,000 mile AMSOIL oil changes for over 1 million miles in vehicles with continued good performance of the catalytic converter, then this issue is simply not worthy of consumer concern.  The engineering conclusion is hard to avoid: vehicle owners are both the pawns and the scam targets in a clever North American marketing war that’s being waged for profits.

Even though AMSOIL could make more profit by spending less money on the additives, AMSOIL believes the longer engine life and higher fuel economy are far more valuable to their customers.  We agree completely!

Lessons from the Million Mile Van

The Technical Facts on Catalytic Converter and Diesel Particulate Filter Internal Deposits:

  • There is simply no data to support any performance or warranty problems in catalytic converters from the higher levels of oil additives that were approved for many years.  There are no observed trends of shortening of newer high-density catalytic converter life in fleets converting over to AMSOIL and logging millions of miles on the road.  If differences of 1% in service life exist, they would be difficult to detect, and would not be considered significant.  The Million Mile Van was still running on the original catalytic converter with no evidence of any converter performance issues, after more than 1.2 million miles using Amsoil’s flagship TSO/SSO 35,000 mile 0W-30 synthetic oil.  This oil cannot be API Licensed due to optimized additive levels that are apparently higher than what the petroleum oil industry wants to permit themselves to spend to put in their engine oils. 
  • Nearly all catalytic converter contamination comes from fuel content, fuel contamination, and other issues such as overfueling from performance “chips”.  While no ratios have been established, well under 5% of contamination comes from engine oil content.
  • There is reason to believe that ash limits in diesel CJ-4 oil will slightly shorten the cleaning intervals for DPF units, compared to the higher-performance CI-4.  Because most contaminates come from the high volume of fuel burned, rather than the very small amount of engine oil that’s burned, the difference is probably very small.  But OEM’s reportedly felt the unknown risks of warranty issues and commercial customer backlash (against the DPF content required by new EPA mandates for 2007 diesels) were large enough that a new oil classification was needed.  An unknown number of fleets prefer to use CI-4 oils to extend engine life, and are taking their chances on shortened DPF cleaning cycles.
  • One reason for these concerns is that the API permits what many would call unreasonably high volatility levels, requiring more oil use for “top-offs” of the oil level.  Rather than reducing higher CAT exposure from additive top-offs by lowering the volatility limits for low-quality petroleum oils, the API chose to restrict the additive levels.  This creates a situation where AMSOIL’s products probably produce lower exposure rates than those of the API Licensed petroleum oils which have high volatility.
  • Finally, additive levels drop over time, during use. Because petroleum oils must be changed more frequently, their total average additive levels can be higher than average AMSOIL levels over the life of the AMSOIL oil change.
  • The long drain intervals plus the low volatility rates of AMSOIL synthetic engine oils means that their total contaminate exposure in the catalytic converter is probably lower than the exposure from at least some of the API-Licensed petroleum oils. 

 

Here’s a deeper dive on the risks of “poisoning” or “plugging” or being denied warranty coverage on catalytic converters:

When Amsoil says “We have never received a complaint of premature converter failure”, there is great weight behind that.  In effect, they are stating that there is no known evidence of any issues with oil additive levels causing premature CAT degradation.  They’re saying both that AMSOIL has not seen any issues in millions of miles of vehicle fleet monitoring and sampling, and that no-one in the auto or lube industries has seen any problems either.  The old ZDDP and ash (SAPS) limits were set based on the levels of maximum possible benefit in oil formulating.  The new ZDDP and ash limits were set without any significant data and without any attempt to investigate or target actual converter element exposure to the additives.  This begs the question: were the new levels arbitrary, or were they calculated exclusively for synthetic market impact?

No-one disputes that very high levels of exposure could possibly shorten the life of CAT converter and DPF elements.  However, the theoretical ability for optimum SAPS and ZDDP oil additive levels to contribute any significant shortening to exhaust system performance life has not been demonstrated in real life.  In essence, this is because so little oil gets burned that additive levels might have to be two to five times higher than optimum in order to measurably shorten catalytic converter life.  In reality, most contaminate exposure occurs through fuel content, and only a very small percentage through combusted engine oil.  And in reality, most catalytic converters are lost due to burn-out from overfueling, which can occur when O2 sensors go bad and drivers ignore the dash warning lights, or from adding aftermarket performance “chips”, or other system alterations that leave high levels of unburned fuel in the exhaust.

Pointing out the need to develop data (to support appropriate additive levels), has gone no-where with the API.  Isn’t that because everyone knows the data wouldn’t support the current artificially-low additive limits?  Pointing out the need for a more accurate exposure level through use of a sliding additive limit that considers volatility and make-up oil, has also gone no-where in the API.  Is that because if volatility were considered, the oil companies might have to reformulate and/or improve the quality of some of their below-mediocre oils, which would cut into their profits?

If we consider some theoretical numbers, it’s very enlightening.  How much does engine oil (vs fuel content) contribute to the Catalytic Converter contamination or poisoning?  Let’s use what may be a ridiculously high number of 5%.  Now let’s say for argument that the effects of volatility rates and makeup oil are zero.  That means that the 20% reduction in oil additive limit levels would then reduce Catalytic Converter contamination by an astonishing one percent.  I wonder which number is more important to consumers, a 1% drop in Catalytic Converter life (how many of those have ever been replaced?), or a 50 to 500% increase in engine life?

Could it have escaped the API’s attention that the new levels set would restrict over 80% of AMSOIL’s product line from any possibility of Licensing, while affecting almost no other company?  (Uh, no.)

Or… Could it be that the real purpose for the additive limits is to control and limit the performance of API Certified oils to the maximum levels the oil companies want to be able to use, and so to prevent AMSOIL or any other synthetic oil company from ever Licensing embarrassingly high-performance oils?

Which option is more plausible?


REFERENCE SECTION

Penrite Oil in Australia provides a useful Fact Sheet on API classifications and how they relate to other international standards including ACEA, JAMA, ILSAC, and OEM’s.

 

Content of all tests from
API 1509—Engine Oil Licensing and Certification System

Listed in “Section 6 – Referenced Publications”, pages 21-24

 

ACC  American Chemistry Council Petroleum Additives Panel Product Approval Code of Practice

 

ASTM

D 92 Standard Test Method for Flash and Fire Points by Cleveland Open Cup

D 93 Standard Test Methods for Flash Point by Pensky-Martens Closed Cup Tester

D 445 Standard Test Method for Kinematic Viscosity of Transparent and Opaque Liquids (and the Calculation of Dynamic Viscosity)

D 892 Standard Test Method for Foaming Characteristics of Lubricating Oils

D1552 Standard Test Method for Sulfur in Petroleum Products (High-Temperature Method)

D 2007 Standard Test Method for Characteristic Groups in Rubber Extender and Processing Oils and Other Petroleum Derived Oils by the Clay-Gel Absorption Chromatographic Method

D 2270 Standard Practice for Calculating Viscosity Index From Kinematic Viscosity at 40 and 100°C

D 2622 Standard Test Method for Sulfur in Petroleum Products by Wavelength Dispersive X-Ray Fluorescence Spectrometry

D 2887 Standard Test Method for Boiling Range Distribution of Petroleum Fractions by Gas Chromatography

D 3120 Standard Test Method for Trace Quantities of Sulfur in Light Liquid Petroleum Hydrocarbons by Oxidative Microcoulometry

D 3244 Standard Practice for Utilization of Test Data to Determine Conformance with Specifications

D 4057 Standard Practice for Manual Sampling of Petroleum and Petroleum Products

D 4294 Standard Test Method for Sulfur in Petroleum and Petroleum Products by Energy-Dispersive X-Ray Fluorescence Spectroscopy

D 4485 Standard Specification for Performance of Engine Oils

D 4628 Standard Test Method for Analysis of Barium, Calcium, Magnesium, and Zinc in Unused Lubricating Oils by Atomic Absorption Spectrometry

D 4629 Standard Test Method for Trace Nitrogen in Liquid Petroleum Hydrocarbons by Syringe/Inlet Oxidative Combustion and Chemiluminescence Detection

D 4683 Standard Test Method for Measuring Viscosity at High Shear Rate and High Temperature by Tapered Bearing Simulator

D 4684 Standard Test Method for Determination of Yield Stress and Apparent Viscosity of Engine Oils at Low Temperature

D 4741 Standard Test Method for Measuring Viscosity at High Temperature and High Shear Rate by Tapered-Plug Viscometer

D 4927 Standard Test Method for Elemental Analysis of Lubricant and Additive Components, Barium, Calcium, Phosphorus, Sulfur, and Zinc, by Wavelength-Dispersive X-Ray Fluorescence Spectroscopy

D 4951 Standard Test Method for Determination of Additive Elements in Lubricating Oils by Inductively Coupled Plasma Atomic Emission Spectrometry\

D 5119 Standard Test Method for Evaluation of Automotive Engine Oils in CRC L-38 Spark Ignition Engine

D 5133 Standard Test Method for Low Temperature, Low Shear Rate, Viscosity/Temperature Dependence of Lubricating Oils Using a Temperature-Scanning Technique

D 5185 Standard Test Method for Determination of Additive Elements, Wear Metals, and Contaminants in Used Lubricating Oils and Determination of Selected Elements in Base Oils by Inductively Coupled Plasma Atomic Emission Spectrometry (ICP-AES)

D 5293 Standard Test Method for Apparent Viscosity of Engine Oils Between –5 and –30°C Using the Cold-Cranking Simulator

D 5302 Standard Test Method for Evaluation of Automotive Engine Oils for Inhibition of Deposit Formation and Wear in a Spark-Ignition Internal Combustion Engine Fueled with Gasoline and Operated Under Low-Temperature Light-Duty Conditions

D 5480 Standard Test Method for Motor Oil Volatility by Gas Chromatography

D 5481 Standard Test Method for Measuring Apparent Viscosity at High-Temperature and High-Shear Rate by Multicell Capillary Viscometer

D 5533 Standard Test Method for Evaluation of Automotive Engine Oils in the Sequence IIIE Spark Ignition Engine

D 5800 Standard Test Method for Evaporation Loss of Lubricating Oils by the NOACK Method

D 5844 Standard Test Method for Evaluation of Automotive Engine Oils for Inhibition of Rusting (Sequence IID)

D 5862 Standard Test Method for Evaluation of Engine Oils in Two-Stroke Cycle Turbo-Supercharged 6V92TA Diesel Engine

D 6082 Standard Test Method for High Temperature Foaming Characteristics of Lubricating Oils

D 6202 Standard Test Method for Automotive Engine Oils on the Fuel Economy of Passenger Cars and Light-Duty Trucks in the Sequence VIA Spark Ignition Engine

D 6335 Standard Test Method for Determination of High Temperature Deposits by Thermo-Oxidation Engine Oil Simulation Test

D 6417 Standard Test Method for Estimation of Engine Oil Volatility by Capillary Gas Chromatography

D 6557 Standard Test Method For Evaluation of Rust Preventative Characteristics of Automotive Engine Oils

D 6593 Standard Test Method for Evaluation of Automotive Engine Oils for Inhibition of Deposit Formation in a Spark-Ignition Internal Combustion Engine Fueled with Gasoline and Operated Under Low-Temperature Light-Duty Conditions

D 6922 Standard Test Method for Determination of Homogeneity and Miscibility in Automotive Engine Oils

RR:D02:1204 Fuel Efficient Engine Oil Dynamometer Test Development Activities, Part II (Sequence VI Test)

RR:D02:1649 Sequence VIB

RR:D02:1473 Sequence IVA

RR:D02:1491 Sequence IIIF

Under Development by ASTM D02.B      TEOST MHT-4

Under Development by ASTM D02.06     EOFT

Under Development by ASTM D02.06     EOWTT

 

CEC

L-36-A-90 High Temperature/High Shear Viscosity

L-40-A-93 Evaporative Loss of Lubricating Oils

 

DOD

CID A-A-52039A Lubricating Oil, Automotive Engine, API Service SG

MIL-L-2104 Lubricating Oil, Internal Combustion Engine, Tactical Service

 

GM

9099P Engine Oil Filterability Test (EOFT)

9099P Engine Oil Filterability Test (EOFT) (Modified), May 1980

 

ILSAC

GF-1 Minimum Performance Standard for Passenger Car Engine Oils

GF-2 Minimum Performance Standard for Passenger Car Engine Oils

GF-3 Minimum Performance Standard for Passenger Car Engine Oils

 

JPI

5S-41-93 Evaporative Loss

 

SAE

J183 Engine Oil Performance and Engine Service Classification (Other Than “Energy-Conserving”)

J300 Engine Oil Viscosity Classification

J357 Physical and Chemical Properties of Engine Oils

J1423 Classification of Energy-Conserving Engine Oil for Passenger Cars, Vans, and Light-Duty Trucks

 


Information on this page represents statements of facts and engineering opinion which are not guaranteed for accuracy, nor approved by AMSOIL, the API, ASTM or any other formal engineering body.  However, we have invested hundreds of hours of engineering research and study, and we do make reasonable effort to correct or improve the information and opinions as we become aware of it.

If you have a question, suggestion, or correction, please .

Copyright 2009, 2015 and 2016, UltimateSyntheticOil.com and DMT Technical.
All rights reserved.


AMSOIL has been in business since 1972 and was the first company in the world to develop an API (American Petroleum Institute) rated synthetic lubricant for automotive applications. They coined the phrase “extended drain intervals” 40 years ago with 25,000 mile drain intervals, and ever since then they have been defining the leading edge of lubrication technology, innovation and performance.  No other company in the world offers 25,000 and 35,000 mile oil changes, and AMSOIL guarantees their product performance. No-one else does that. AMSOIL is the Gold Standard in lubrication and filtration, and amazingly, their superior-performance products are cheaper to use.  The fact is, if you’re not using AMSOIL lubricants and filters, you’re wasting money.

We are here to help you and are at your service to assist you in your advanced technology lubrication and filtration needs.  We hope you will allow us to show you a proven better way.  We have many satisfied customers using AMSOIL products in their commercial, trucking, and fleet vehicles, as well as personal, family and recreational vehicles. And now, you know the AMSOIL secret, too.  Welcome to the AMSOIL family.


AMSOIL is the undisputed leader in synthetics………….banner2

Since 1972, AMSOIL Synthetic drivetrain LUBRICANTS have proven to be the highest performance engine oils, greases, transmission fluids, and hydraulic and differential gear oils on the market.
But the other key issue is nanofiber filtration
.
We cover oil filters, air filters and other fluid filters like NO-ONE else can.  AMSOIL offers the highest performance, most cost-effective, most comprehensive filter line on earth.  Consider air and oil…

OIL FILTERS:

Until now, Nanofiber filtration technology has been used exclusively in medical, aerospace, electronics manufacturing, and heavy duty applications, including the US ARMY Abrams M1 tank.   AMSOIL Ea Filters are the first and only filter line to bring this technology to the auto/light truck market.

EaO nanofiber oil filters provide unmatched full-flow filtering efficiency to 98.7 percent at 15 microns, and 50 percent at 7 microns.  This translates to a 70% reduction in engine wear rates, tripling remaining engine life while giving longer filter life and lower pressure drop for better cold-start performance: the only filtration that gives you the best performance in every category!  Compare that to the filters lining the auto-parts shelves, which don’t tell you their common 7,500 mile/6-month design life and either won’t tell you what micron level their efficiency rating is for, or they claim a micron particle size without stating an efficiency: deceptive, meaningless numbers.

Additionally, consider bypass filtration systems for commercial and fleet applications in cars and light, medium and heavy trucks which can filter particles down to less than one micron and are 89% efficient at 1 micronmaking oil changes virtually unnecessary and virtually eliminating engine wear.  (A standard full-flow oil filter can only filter to 20 microns with any reasonable efficiency, but 5-25 microns is widely accepted as the wear-particle size range.)  Easy to install, these oil filter systems have been proven by millions of miles of over-the road trucks, construction equipment and fleet service. And we use these on our personal diesel pickup trucks: my Duramax 2500HD has over 70,000 miles since the last oil drain, the oil analysis looks perfect, and the appearance of this diesel oil looks like a gas engine with 3,000 miles on the oil.

AIR FILTERS:

The MOST IMPORTANT filter on the M1A1 Abrams battle tank is its’ nanofiber air filter.On Patrol Abrams M1A1 Battle Tank beats the dust with Nanofiber Filtration Technology
The MOST Important filter on YOUR vehicle is also the air filter.

It’s far better, and easier, to keep wear particles out of the engine than it is to attempt filtering them out of the engine oil.  Yet filter companies and vehicle manufacturer’s are strangely silent about actual air filter performance and engine needs.  Now AMSOIL offers world-leading breakthrough Ea air filters with exclusive nanofiber technology.  Based on battlefield-proven air-induction systems used in military ground and air vehicles, this high-technology filtration is now available for consumer use!  Ea filters are guaranteed for 4 years, 100,000 miles.  The engineering rule of thumb for damaging wear particle size is 5 to 25 microns.  Incredibly, these filters are 100% efficient at removing particles of 3 microns, and are 80% effective at removing particles of a 1 micron size.  This means that NO WEAR PARTICLES CAN GET PAST OUR Ea AIR FILTERS!  AND, they’re less expensive to use than ANY other air filter.

For Power Sports applications, AMSOIL offers a line of oiled-foam filters.  These filters provide better performance than oiled-gauze air filters, and are used almost exclusively in most off-road applications including baja, dirt-track racing, and motocross.

For light to heavy trucks, both gas and diesel engines, AMSOIL’s partnership with Donaldson provides you with the best performance and most cost-effective air filtration systems in the world.  These include both Powercore and Nanofiber technology filters.  We have the full line of  Donaldson Filters Now Available , including nanofiber air, fuel, water, oil and hydraulic filters, with exclusive performance warranties (no one else in the industry offers filtration performance warranties).  Contact us for specific recommendations, or see our Diesel Page.

Air Induction Systems:AMSOIL EaAU universal conical filters replace filters on custom induction systems made by K&N, Injen, S&B, Green, AIRAID, AFE, TrueFlow and Banks

Well-engineered aftermarket air induction systems can provide airflow improvements with gains in horsepower, fuel economy, and towing torque.  Unfortunately in many cases they may also let far more wear particles into your engine than the OEM filter.  And oiled media can contaminate mass flow air sensors, causing problems with emissions, fuel economy and performance that can even damage transmissions in some cases.  AMSOIL lets you leave those problems behind. The full line of nanofiber universal air induction filters (EaAU) are designed to replace stock oil wetted gauze or foam conical filters that were supplied with custom induction systems produced by K&N, Injen, S&B, Green, AIRAID, AFE, TrueFlow and more. Whether your air induction system is in a gasoline street-rod, or a diesel truck, you have great airflow but you need better filtration and more capacity than you get with oiled gauze or foam.  AMSOIL Ea Air Induction Filters are dry no-oil filters with nanofiber filtration media to bring your aftermarket air-intake far better efficiency, 50 times the capacity, and excellent airflow while being easily cleanable – every 25,000 miles.

WHY SWITCH TO AMSOIL LUBRICATION AND FILTRATION TECHNOLOGIES?

  • AMSOIL products saves you time and money.  With recommended extended drain intervals, AMSOIL performance typically costs LESS per year than conventional oil changes.
  • The only 25,000 mile/one-year motor oils in the world.
  • The only 25,000 mile/one-year engine oil filters in the world.
  • A vehicle lubrication solution with far less environmental impact, using an estimated 87% less oil and 5-10% less fuel !
  • The only oils and filters with a warranty for GUARANTEED performance!
  • Exceeds the most stringent performance specifications of all major U.S. and foreign automotive and truck manufacturers.
  • Provides up to four-times the wear protection of other motor oils.
  • Increases the mileage life of your vehicle.
  • Improves fuel economy.
  • Increases at-wheel horsepower.
  • Lowers transmission and differential operating temperatures and delivers better shifting, even in heavy towing.
  • Lowers fleet maintenance costs by lowering the costs of both scheduled maintenance, and mechanical repairs.
  • Lowers fleet capital costs by dramatically extending vehicle service-life.  (Fleet vehicle mileage typically extended 20 to 100%.)
  • Diesel oil and filtration products designed to deliver more than 1,000,000 miles for over-the-road trucks before engine overhaul.
  • Used by many national racing teams, fleets, police departments, fire departments, ambulance fleets, construction firms and trucking companies.

 

WHY WORK WITH DMT TECHNICAL?

DMT Technical operates Ultimate-Synthetic-Oil.com as part of a group of highly skilled team of OEM Engineers and Lubrication and Filtration Specialists.  In fact, we are the ONLY such group on the internet, as well as the largest AND fastest-growing AMSOIL Dealer organization in the nation.  You too, can join our group when you become an AMSOIL Dealer and take advantage of all that we offer as you use products in your own vehicles or begin your own AMSOIL business. You cannot find a more knowledgeable and skilled group of Dealers anywhere.

In addition, as a Dealer in our group you will receive exclusive unlimited product, technical and business support from the only group of Truck and Automotive Engineers and Lubrication Specialists on the net.  That’s priceless – yet free – vital support that can make a huge difference to a growing business.

We do not run our business purely on the internet. We also have numerous commercial, industrial, trucking, excavating, construction, logging, police, racing and many more accounts that we support and service on a regular basis. We have several fully stocked warehouses and fully equipped shop facilities. This provides us with excellent knowledge of the products, equipment and the business and the ability to respond immediately to any of your needs. We will use this knowledge and experience to help you get started so you too can achieve your goals.

We possess the skills, desire and knowledge to answer questions, solve problems, improve efficiency, reduce downtime, maintenance costs and increase the durability and life of all of your vehicles.

Read what our thrilled customers have to say about us. Read through our website. Contact us with any questions. If you decide to become an AMSOIL Dealer you will be joining, in our opinion, the most skilled AMSOIL group there is. We will help you get started and provide you with the tools and information in order to be successful in this business or with technical and product assistance to use AMSOIL products in your own vehicles.

To get additional information:

We offer several options to receive information on AMSOIL. We welcome the opportunity to work with you personally as your servicing AMSOIL Dealer.  Our AMSOIL Dealer Group is led by former OEM Truck/Automotive Engineers and Lubrication Specialists with over 20 years experience each, who can provide you with unparalleled and valuable advice. This exceptional benefit is unavailable elsewhere. 

Please, email us at  and we will send you exclusive comprehensive info on products, technical and business factors. If you are serious about AMSOIL products and the business opportunity this is the best option. You will receive extensive technical and business support from both myself and my other OEM Detroit, Michigan Truck/Automotive Engineers and Lubrication Specialists with over 20 years experience each. We look forward to helping you learn about AMSOIL.

Or for a smaller, general information package (which includes a catalog and Dealer application) you can request information via any of the links below.  Please note that your information is always held in confidence per our Privacy Policy, and will never be sold, loaned or otherwise distributed.

To request a FREE Factory Direct Catalog by MAIL

To Immediately Download a FREE Factory Direct Catalog

Review Dealer Opportunity Information NOW  OR  Request Information on Becoming an AMSOIL Dealer  

To Buy AMSOIL Products in the AMSOIL On-Line Store

To Sell AMSOIL in Your Store or Purchase For Use in Your Businesses Equipment

To visit the AMSOIL Corporate Website for Product and Business Opportunity Information

AMSOIL is Proudly Made in the U.S.A.

AMSOIL is owned by Americans.

AMSOIL is America’s Oil.

AMSOIL United States and Canada the Filtration and Lubrication Gold Standards

Brian Dobben - former Senior OEM Engineer, USA and Canada Amsoil Synthetic Oil dealer - premium oils and filters

Ultimate Synthetic Oil – AMSOIL Products

Garner, North Carolina  27529

Phone: (419) 551-4792

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