Although the new API SP/ILSAC GF-6A and GF-6B standards were approved for first licensing on May 1, 2020, motor oils with these standards have been hard to find on retail shelves. But it is not unusual for it to take several months from first allowable use date for new specifications to migrate into retail stores. This is because it takes time for blenders to cycle through inventory of both finished products and labels. In addition, the cycling time was prolonged this year as a result of slower than usual inventory turns among blenders and retailers due to the decline in demand for motor oil caused by the pandemic.
Further, as of May 1, 2021, as defined by the API 1509, ILSAC applicable motor oils manufactured to meet the API SN or API SN PLUS Service Classifications can no longer display the ILSAC Starburst. They can, however, be labeled as Resource Conserving. As a result, some marketers may transition later than others since the switch from API SN PLUS/ILSAC GF-5 to API SP/ILSAC GF-6A is not mandatory until May 1, 2021.
For those consumers that look at the antiwear and detergent levels in the analysis on the samples PQIA examines, one could conclude that the new API SP/ILSAC GF-6A and ILSAC 6B motor oils are not much different than the prior API SN PLUS products. This is because the levels of phosphorus, zinc, calcium and magnesium in the API SN PLUS and the new API SPs tested are very similar.
To this point, however, it is important to consider that low-speed preignition (LSPI) was a primary issue that drove the somewhat urgent need for API SN PLUS prior to reaching consensus on the parameters for API SP. With that, the industry developed API SN PLUS in anticipation of what would be required in API SP/ILSAC GF-6A and ILSAC 6B. Consequently, some of the motor oils sold as SN PLUS were utilizing additive packages expected to meet API SP specification, and some likely did, or came close prior to finalization of the API SP specification.
In addition, it is important to consider that many of the differences between API SN PLUS and SP are seen in areas not examined by PQIA. As an example, many additives are ashless, including antioxidants and friction modifiers. So, although detergent signatures for the new API SP motor oils PQIA examined changed, not all changes are visible in the PQIA data.
For more information on API SP/ILSAC GF-6A and GF-6B see links below:
Getting Up to Speed on the New Passenger Car Motor Oil Specifications on PQIA’s website