Bob Is The Oil Guy Q&A: API SN PLUS & Pennzoil Platinum 0W-16

1. When should we expect the SN PLUS products to be on the shelves?
  • The first, official license date for SN PLUS is set for May 1, 2018, however the specification is issued and there are both Pennzoil and Quaker State products that already meet this requirement and are on shelves including:
    • Pennzoil Platinum Full Synthetic Motor Oils
      • SAE 0W-20, SAE 5W-20, SAE 5W-30, and SAE 10W-30
    • Pennzoil Platinum High Mileage Full Synthetic Motor Oils
      • SAE 0W-20, SAE 5W-20, SAE 5W-30, and SAE 10W-30
    • Pennzoil Gold Motor Oils
      • SAE 0W-20, SAE 5W-20, SAE 5W-30, and SAE 10W-30
    • Quaker State Ultimate Durability Full Synthetic Motor Oils
      • SAE 0W-20, SAE 5W-20, SAE 5W-30, and SAE 10W-30
    • Quaker State Synthetic Blend Motor Oils
      • SAE 0W-20, SAE 5W-20, and SAE 5W-30

2. What are the teams concerns when it comes to direct injection engines and how is the team addressing the formulations particularly with 0W-16 oils.
  • Shell has always provided oils suitable for direct injection engines. It is the combination of direct injection PLUS turbo charging (TGDI) that has necessitated the requirement for specifications like API SN PLUS. 0W-16 motor oils provide unique challenges in that the lower viscosity requires formulators to pay particular attention to engine wear control while maintaining tight control of oil volatility. The use of PurePlus base oils allow Pennzoil to formulate motor oils at the new, lower viscosity requirements while still maintaining excellent volatility control.

3. Will SN PLUS require reformulation or does Pennzoil already pass SN PLUS?
  • There are Pennzoil and Quaker State products on the shelves today that are API SN PLUS ready and exceed API SN PLUS specifications:
    • Pennzoil Platinum Full Synthetic Motor Oils
      • SAE 0W-20, SAE 5W-20, SAE 5W-30, and SAE 10W-30
    • Pennzoil Platinum High Mileage Full Synthetic Motor Oils
      • SAE 0W-20, SAE 5W-20, SAE 5W-30, and SAE 10W-30
    • Pennzoil Gold Motor Oils
      • SAE 0W-20, SAE 5W-20, SAE 5W-30, and SAE 10W-30
    • Quaker State Ultimate Durability Full Synthetic Motor Oils
      • SAE 0W-20, SAE 5W-20, SAE 5W-30, and SAE 10W-30
    • Quaker State Synthetic Blend Motor Oils
      • SAE 0W-20, SAE 5W-20, and SAE 5W-30


4. How does SN PLUS compare to its ACEA counter part, such as A5/B5? Does it have stricter rules?
  • ACEA A5/B5 is not a “counterpart” to API SN PLUS in that SN PLUS includes a newly developed LSPI (Low-Speed Pre-Ignition) test and limits to provide protection against this new phenomenon. In the future we expect ACEA to also include LSPI protection in their industry standards.
5. With the shift for “new” oils to deliver advanced fuel economy ratings, how can those of us with port fuel injection or even flat tappet engines be sure that the reduced calcium and ZDDP counts are providing adequate protection for our engines?
  • When new engine oil specifications are developed, the industry teams take great care to make sure older vehicle designs are protected as well. It’s important to consider that testing to evaluate fuel economy has been added to specifications where traditional tests for wear, oxidation, and corrosion remain. Behind the scenes during new specification development, as new engine tests are added to replace existing tests, there are further efforts to prove-out backwards serviceability. Each of these efforts present unique challenges for lubricant formulators. For example, although a reduced ZDDP level is necessary to protect catalytic converters, new and more effective ZDDP compounds are developed to provide comparable protection at lower treat rates. For LSPI protection, one formulating approach may be to reduce calcium levels where this can be balanced by substituting other additives to maintain effective detergency.


6. Is Pennzoil going to offer say Dexos 1 Gen 2 oils and then oils with “extra” additives for those of us who refuse to buy GDI engines?
  • I engines pre-dated the original dexos1TM Gen 1 specification. Additionally, dexos1TM Gen 2 products provide additional protection for turbocharged, GDI (TGDI) engines and are fully backwards compatible with previous dexos1TM and earlier GM specifications. Additional additives/performance boosters are not required for older vehicles.


7. Will SN PLUS have an advanced timing chain wear component to the certification as well or is it only geared towards LSPI prevention in GDI and TGDI applications.
  • Although SN PLUS does not include a new timing chain wear test in its requirements, the new GF-6 category under development will indeed have a timing chain wear test included along with the LSPI test currently in SN PLUS. The timing of test development efforts for industry categories allowed the pull ahead of SN PLUS including LSPI, which will be closely followed by GF-6.


8. What does SN PLUS bring to market that isn’t already available in Dexos 1 Gen 2 oils?
  • Both provide specifications for lubricants in the traditional areas of wear, oxidation, and corrosion as well as the new TGDI issue of LSPI. However, they do not share all of the same engine tests. For example, the dexos1TM Gen 2 specification includes a proprietary LSPI test that was developed by GM. SN PLUS has an LSPI test that was developed by Ford in cooperation with industry input and as part of the ASTM standardization process.


9. Wondering if you can tell us, why did API want to get zinc and phosphate numbers below 900 PPM for SN labeled oil. Was it a catalytic converter issue?
  • Zinc dialkyldithiophosphates (ZDDP) are the most common anti-wear additives used in motor oils. The phosphates in ZDDP are the active ingredients for delivering wear protection while the Zinc provides a stable, convenient, cost effective means for delivering this performance in a lubricant. The issue is that the high levels of phosphorus in ZDDP can poison the catalytic converter and limit its efficiency. As a result, the API has had phosphorus limits in specifications for years, most recently reducing the limit to 0.08% maximum (there is no limit on the amount of Zinc) starting with the API SM category. This, however, does not mean that oils meeting the SN specification do not provide adequate engine protection. As specifications change, so do lubricant formulating approaches to maintain anti-wear performance. Pennzoil products that meet SN specifications are proven to deliver unsurpassed wear protection.


10. As an owner of several older cars I am always interested in backward compatibility of any new API rating. I think SN is backward compatible to about 1996 MY or so. Will SN PLUS also be?
  • SN and SN PLUS are considered backward compatible to all earlier API categories, even the older categories that are considered obsolete.


11. What are the HTHS values for Pennzoil Platinum 0W-20 and Pennzoil Platinum 0W-16?
  • The Pennzoil Platinum HTHS viscosities for both grades meet the minimum specification required. Much like the NOACK, the variability in results observed in this bench test minimizes the value of comparing results among different products in the same viscosity grade where the window is already quite narrow.


12. What are the NOACK values for Pennzoil Platinum 0W-20 and Pennzoil Platinum 0W-16?
  • Pennzoil doesn’t typically report NOACK values due to the inherent variability of the test. That said, Pennzoil products are formulated to have robust volatility characteristics.


13. Just thinking that the 0W-16 might be suitable for our 0W-20 applications.
  • 0W-16 is not yet considered suitable for use in cars that don’t specifically recommend 0W-16 by the OEM. Carefully check your owner’s manual and use the recommended viscosity grade.


14. Chevron is touting 50% less wear with their HDEO’s, even using reduced ZDDP levels. We know y’all are working on no-heavy-metal chemistries to counter wear, no matter what viscosity the oil is… These new oils will have to have superior AW properties. The thinner it gets, the more important that AW package is. Will you be able to demonstrate superior AW properties in 0W-16 oils over what’s currently in the marketplace (including current 0W-20’s)? Those of us who build engines (less so as I get older …) can tighten things up to use 0W-16’s if they’ll survive serious thrashing. We know racers have been going to lighter oils, but the carnage has been high… We need serious AW capabilities since hydrodynamics will be even less available …
  • Where recommended, 0W-16 products are required to meet the same specifications as a 0W-20, for wear. This is currently true for API SN and will also be a part of API SN PLUS and API SP.


15. As long as we’re checking Noack volatility, let’s see Pennzoil Platinum 5W-20 and Pennzoil Platinum 5W-30 values, too, please.
  • Again, Pennzoil doesn’t typically report NOACK values due to the inherent variability of the test. That said, Pennzoil products are formulated to have robust volatility characteristics.


16. I assume HTHS values are typically only slightly above the minimums for all those grades in ILSAC forms. Right?
  • HTHS values are tightly controlled by the limits set for all viscosity requirements (there are many). Generally, this provides OEM’s with predictable oil film thickness properties at a myriad of temperatures and shear rates. Moving HTHS values too far, even within the specification, can cause one of the other viscosity requirements to fall out of specification. As such HTHS values are very consistent.


17. Will Pennzoil Platinum 0W-16 cost more?
  • Each market is different and competitive pricing is dependent on the market dynamics and the competitive landscape.


18. Since fuel dilution appears here to stay with the proliferation of direct injection, why are lower viscosity oils being developed for use in them?
  • It is not a given that fuel dilution is higher with direct injection engines. In fact, improvements in direct injection engine designs are likely to reduce fuel dilution. However, the quest for lower viscosity oils, whether for direct injection engines or otherwise, is due to the challenge of providing improved fuel economy.


19. It has been posited that these thinner grades of oil achieve the “0W” component of their rating as a byproduct of the basestocks that are used in their creation, rather than through active intent of the formulators. Can you confirm that Pennzoil specifically targeted the 0W part of their 0W-16 formulation through active blending of basestocks and additives.
  • Lubricant formulating always requires careful balance between the characteristics of both the base oils and the additives. Part of formulating at the 0W-16 viscosity grade, of course, is done through management of the base oil viscosity. PurePlus base oils were specifically designed to deliver the required properties for 0W grade oils from the outset and help create a unique advantage for lubricant formulators at Pennzoil.


20. Would there ever be a 5W-16, which is a legitimate grade under J300?
  • Formulating a 5W-16 is possible, but given that 0W-16 has better low temperature properties and is already in the market, we don’t foresee widespread recommendation of 5W-16’s by OEMs.


21. Is Pennzoil going to produce a 0W-8 oil?
  • OEM’s have shown varying interest in these lower viscosity oils. Although no recommendations are yet made by OEM’s for this grade, Pennzoil will be ready when they are approved and ready for use. PurePlus base oils were designed with such considerations in mind.


22. Will any of these new super low viscosity oils be approved to use in newer 0W-20 applications? Or will they all only be approved for newer engines (not unlike the FA-4 diesel spec)?
  • Given the care it takes in engine design to use lower viscosity oils and the due diligence in recommending just the proper grade for maximum fuel economy and engine protection by the OEM, we don’t expect that lower viscosity oils (eg. 0W-12, 0W-8) will be allowed for use in engines that recommend 0W-20.


23. NOACK values are necessary for an informed consumer to objectively assess the suitability of a lubricant for certain applications. It is clear that NOACK values are intrinsically not a proprietary value, given that at minimum, a “less than” value is invoked for certain specifications to be met, and other vendors clearly publicize the values in their product data sheets. It is well known that Pennzoil products offer superior NOACK values, based upon third party assessments. When can we expect to see reporting of actual NOACK values for all Pennzoil products, 0w-16 included?
  • One strength of formulating with PurePlus base stocks is clearly observed in NOACK performance. Though this test is important to specifications, the NOACK is a laboratory bench test known for wider variability in test results relative to other bench tests. This variability in test results makes it more difficult to pinpoint the accuracy of a single result and minimizes the value of comparing results among different products.


24. Can I run it in my Toyota Corolla 2009 that requires 0W-20? Or in my Volvo XC60 Drive-E 2015?
  • Pennzoil always recommends you follow the viscosity grade recommended by the OEM in your owner’s manual or OEM service bulletin updating that recommendation.


25. What are your thoughts on using this new lower viscosity or any of your lower viscosity oils in older vehicles. These cars usually had a 10W-30 or 5W-30 requirement.
  • Always follow the viscosity grade recommended by the OEM in your owner’s manual unless a service bulletin is issued by the OEM to update the recommendation.


26. Is there any advantage in using 0W-16 up to 0W-40? Disadvantages?
  • It is always best to follow the recommended viscosity grade in your owners manual. Using a lower viscosity grade than was recommended puts the consumer at risk of wear issues in an engine that was not designed for it.


27. Is it safe to say that the newer developing technologies lie in increasingly thinner (<5W-30) motor oils? As such, does this place the U.S., with its CAFE requirements, at the leading edge of motor oil science by default?
  • Not necessarily. Fuel economy is a global challenge being tackled by scientists all over the world, and of course auto manufacturers are a global business. As engine oil requirements can vary by region, often the formulating issues posed can be unique to a region, but equally challenging globally. That said, the demanding CAFE environment has pushed lower viscosity, improved fuel economy engine oils in the US where the same could also be said for European and Asian markets as well.


28. With longer oil change intervals being used in today’s vehicles, is there any concern of 0W-16 decreasing in viscosity due to extended use (especially with any added Direct Injection fuel dilution), and therefore possibly becoming too thin to provide adequate engine protection?
  • Certainly, as oils get thinner, concern about becoming “too thin” exists. However, there are strict limits on the requirements for oils to resist thinning, and the OEM’s are testing to make sure that their engines do not cause excessive dilution. Adequate safety factors exist to provide engine protection, which is still the primary function of the engine oil. Part of that equation is certainly the oil drain interval as it has been with oils of all viscosities.


29. Is there any extra special focus in the formulation of 0W-16 to ensure viscosity stability?
  • There is always focus on viscosity stability, and the same focus will be followed in formulating 0W-16 viscosity grades.


30. What compound in Pennzoil oils is going to provide the protection older engines need? I use Pennzoil Ultra Platinum because it has proven itself in my engine through UOAs, but how am I going to trust my engine to oils that change the entire chemistry of what has proven reliable for me?
  • Whether it’s a newer 0W, or a more traditional viscosity grade, the same threshold for wear performance is in place for qualifying these oils using ASTM monitored, fired-engine testing. That holds true for the API SN Plus and API SP specifications that are on the way, where backwards serviceability to older categories has been included in development.


31. Is Pennzoil going to make a product that will do the same thing as my Racing oil, boost the levels of additives for older cars with less pollution controls? With stricter emissions, the levels of additives in oil has been dropping. My latest fill was four quarts of Pennzoil Ultra Platinum in 5W-30, with half a quart of 0W-30 Racing. The Racing oil has twice the additives of normal oil, so this gives it a boost in additive levels in my older car…
  • Not at this time. The blending approach in your question is often due to the belief that the reduction in Zinc dialkyldithiophosphate (ZDDP) use, required in modern formulating to prevent catalytic converter fouling, creates a wear issue in older vehicles. In fact, the limits that caused the drop in ZDDP have not changed since 2004. When they did, new, more effective ZDDPs were developed and launched to provide the wear protection needed in both modern and older engine technology. API specifications state that oils licensed under active categories may be used where earlier categories are recommended. Outside of ZDDP, however, the levels of additives used in oils hasn’t necessarily dropped. Lubricant technology constantly evolves to improve performance and enable the hardware technology employed by OEMS. It’s important to remember that, when mixing different lubricant products in an attempt to improve performance, there can be unintended consequences with harmful effects to your engine.


32. Will Shell/Pennzoil ever bring the Shell Helix oil line up to the United States?
  • No, not at this time.


33. Is Pennzoil 0w-40 being discontinued?
  • No, Pennzoil currently has several 0W-40 products that are available in the market, including Pennzoil Ultra Platinum as well as Pennzoil Platinum Euro.
  • In fact, Pennzoil Ultra Platinum 0W-40 was recently featured in “Exorcising the Demon” and every Dodge Challenger SRT Demon that comes off the assembly line is factory filled with Pennzoil Ultra Platinum. The same goes for all Dodge SRT vehicles.


34. Any chance of getting the Pennzoil Platinum Euro 0W40 LL-01 approved?
  • We appreciate this question, please keep an eye on this space in the future.


35. Does Pennzoil still produce 5W-50 to cover the Ford GT and Shelbys?
  • No, not at this time.


Does Pennzoil still produce 5W-50 Ford spec WSS-M2C931-C?
  • No, not at this time.


37. How soon are these new fangled formulations and specifications going to bleed over to the HDEO products in the Shell lineup? when this happens how will this affect the JASO MA/MA2 ratings carried by Rotella products? this affects motorcycles that have wet clutches that use this rating…
  • The Shell Rotella line of heavy-duty diesel engine oils was just upgraded in 2016 to the latest heavy-duty diesel performance standard, API CK-4, and we introduced Rotella T5 ULTRA 10W-30, API FA-4. These upgrades were driven by the OEM need for improved performance in the areas of oxidation and fuel economy. Rotella T4 Triple Protection 15W-40 and Rotella T6 5W-40 Full Synthetic carry JASO MA/MA2 performance.