AMSOIL - API (LONG)

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For those that use Amsoil.
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Q. Why aren't all AMSOIL motor oils API licensed? A. Good question. Let us address API licensing in depth, as well as the issue of warranties. Some AMSOIL motor oils are API licensed, some are not. If you're concerned about your warranty and feel pressures to use an API licensed oil, even after reading this answer, then the XL 5W-20 (XLM), 5W-30 (XLF), 10W-30 (XLT) and 10W-40 (XLO) or our 15W-40 (PCO) API licensed oils should be your choice. If you are looking for an alternative to frequent oil changes or just want the best performing oil for your car, then one of our top tier non-API licensed synthetic oils are for you. Read on, and decide for yourself. API Licensing - Passenger Cars - What is it? An API (American Petroleum Institute) license indicates that a specific motor oil formulation has passed the minimum performance standards as defined by a series of laboratory bench, physical, chemical and engine tests. These tests were selected and minimum performance standards were set by the API Lubricants Committee to address specific areas such as engine wear, deposits, fuel economy, emissions, etc. The committee is comprised of representatives from automobile, oil and additive companies. The current specification is SM/GF-4 for gasoline engines and CI-4 Plus for severe-duty diesel engine service and CF for indirect injected diesel engine service. Costs The cost for running a test program for a single fuel efficient passenger car motor oil formulation is from $230,000 to $350,000, depending on if the formula passes the tests the first time through or requires multiple test runs or formula modifications to achieve a passing average (testing costs for heavy-duty diesel are running from $750,000 to $1,000,000). Once that testing is complete and the formula has passed all of the minimum requirements, it can be licensed for $1050 per year for non-members and $850 per year for members. There is also a royalty fee per gallon sold for all gallons over one million. The length of time between new specifications is now approximately 2 to 3 years, which does not allow a great deal of time to recover testing costs. Who Licenses What Formulas? Additive companies, such as Lubrizol, Afton, Infineum and Oronite, develop licensed formulas that they offer to oil companies to re-license. It is inexpensive to re-license one of these formulas, and the majority of oil companies choose to do this to avoid the costs associated with testing. This lowers the value of engines oils as the same chemistry is being sold under many brand names. Some of the major oil companies do have their own proprietary formulas developed, tested and licensed. All lubricant formulas from AMSOIL INC. are unique and proprietary. Flexibility In Manufacturing An API Licensed Formula API licensing was originally developed for mineral based oils, and it affords these oils more flexibility than synthetic oils. Mineral oils comprised of Group I and Group II petroleum basestocks may use a simple program called base stock interchange for added flexibility in manufacturing and purchasing. Interchange means that by completing the proper paperwork and running a few minor tests an oil company can choose to buy these petroleum basestocks from many different suppliers. This ensures adequate supply and competitive pricing. However, Group III and Group V base stocks are supplier specific and base stock interchange is not allowed. For example, if a formula was tested with an ester (Group V) base stock from a specific supplier, then only that supplier's ester can be used. Complete engine testing would be required to use that exact same ester from another supplier and is not performed because of the associated costs. This inflexibility makes price negotiations with synthetic base stock suppliers very difficult and it increases business risk. Supply disruptions from only one source could shut down production. Click HERE for more information about Group I through Group V basestocks. There is also something called viscosity grade read-across. Fortunately, this applies to both petroleum and synthetic basestocks although the better cold temperature performance of synthetics makes it more difficult to achieve in some situations. (That's another whole story). What this means is that if you properly formulate the lubricant for which you have run all of the API tests, there are guidelines that allow you to use that same basic formula to make 5W-20, 5W-30, 10W-30, etc. viscosity motor oil. Finally, there is a rule for substitutions in the CMA (Chemical Manufacturers Association) code of practice that allows a small degree of flexibility for all formulas. It allows a company to make changes of certain components in the formula with limited testing and paperwork requirements, provided the additives are at the same or higher concentration. Key Limitations For API Licensed Formulas Phosphorous content - .06% minimum to .08% maximum (API SM; 0W-20, 5W-20, 0W-30, 5W-30, 10W-30 viscosity grades, only) NOACK volatility - 15% maximum Click HERE for an explanation of NOACK Volatility The prevalent sources of phosphorous in motor oils are additives called zinc dithiophosphates (ZDPs). These versatile additives contribute to reduced oxidation, corrosion and wear. The automobile manufacturers, however, have demanded that lubricants contain a maximum of only .08% phosphorous. Their reason is some manufacturers believe higher phosphorous content levels will poison the catalytic converters on their cars before they reach 120,000 miles, which is the number of miles that vehicles are required to pass EPA emission standards. There is not total agreement within the automotive and lubrication industry about whether phosphorous levels over .08% actually do harm catalytic converters in the long run. What they have failed to make allowances for is the NOACK volatility of an oil, the volatility of the phosphorus itself, or the oil drain intervals. The maximum allowable NOACK volatility percentage for the SM/GF-4 passenger car motor oil specification is 15%. Most of AMSOIL motor oils are in the 5% to 8% NOACK volatility range. There is a correlation between NOACK volatility and oil consumption, which ends up in the exhaust gasses. Therefore, higher phosphorous, low volatility oils present no more risk to catalytic converters than low phosphorous oils with higher volatility. This has also been demonstrated for years in actual application through state mandated exhaust gas testing on our Dealers' and customers' high mileage vehicles using AMSOIL synthetic motor oils. State inspectors are continually amazed at the low emissions levels generated by vehicles using AMSOIL products. So much for poisoning catalytic converters. Why Some AMSOIL Synthetic Motor Oils Are API Licensed And Some Are Not 1. Full API licensing puts AMSOIL INC. in an inflexible position. Not only would we find it necessary to buy formula components from specific vendors and be at the mercy of their pricing and availability, we would not be able to make any major improvements to the lubricant formulas for 2 to 3 years without new testing and the associated costs. To solve this problem, the API must establish base stock interchange guidelines for synthetic basestocks just as they have for other basestocks, as well as develop interchange guidelines for other components too. 2. Full API licensing would impose strict phosphorous limitations on our motor oils. AMSOIL INC. disagrees with this limitation and feels strongly that consumers benefit from long drain, low volatility oils that pose no threat to catalytic converters. To solve this issue, the API and vehicle manufacturers must develop tests and make exceptions for high phosphorus, long drain interval, low volatility oils. Warranties And API Licensed Motor Oils Fortunately, the law does not allow manufacturers to "void your warranty" simply because of the brand of oil you use, the specifications it meets or the miles you drive between oil changes. To be specific, they cannot deny fixing your broken radio, faulty valve or cracked piston because you used an AMSOIL non-API licensed motor oil, or because you've gone more than 3000 miles since your last oil change. Denial of warranty coverage must be specifically due to an oil related failure. Courts of law will find against any manufacturer or dealership that tries these warranty shenanigans. If any automobile dealership insinuates that your warranty will be void if you use AMSOIL products or utilize extended drain intervals, let AMSOIL INC. know the name of the Dealership, the address, the owner's name and the name of the employee that made this statement. Mail to: AMSOIL INC. Attention: Technical Services Department AMSOIL Building Superior, WI 54880 or e-mail to [email protected] They will almost never put it in writing, but if they do, please send us a copy of that, too. Either way, we will send them a letter informing them to cease the intimidation of our customers. Click HERE to read a sample letter. Only if the oil is determined to be the direct cause of the engine problem can a manufacturer or dealership deny warranty coverage for that specific problem. In this situation the AMSOIL warranty would apply, and the AMSOIL Technical Services Department would assist you in processing your claim and in getting the vehicle repaired. That's our pledge to you. AMSOIL INC. sells millions of gallons of oil per year and warranty claims are a rare occurrence. If you ever have a warranty problem with an automobile manufacturer or dealership, AMSOIL will assist you by analyzing the problem and providing data supporting the fact that repairs should be made under the vehicle manufacturer's warranty. If this does not resolve the problem, AMSOIL will submit a claim with our insurance company and request that an adjuster have the vehicle repaired and pursue legal settlement later if necessary. Click HERE to see the AMSOIL Limited Warranty. How Does AMSOIL INC. Ensure Their Products Meet Or Exceed The Minimum Specifications Of The Tests Required For API Licensing? First, AMSOIL INC. works closely with major additive companies to select the top performing, and usually most expensive, passenger car and heavy-duty diesel motor oil additives. These additives have already passed all of the API licensing requirements in a petroleum or synthetic based formulation. Then we work with the additive company to maximize the amount of additive used and to boost the additive package in selected performance areas to achieve an optimum performing additive package for reduced wear and extended drain intervals. This is unlike other oil companies who, because additives are expensive, use the minimum amount of the least expensive additives required to meet the minimum API requirements. We then utilize a blend of synthetic basestocks with known performance characteristics as a replacement for the petroleum basestocks to optimize performance in areas of lubricity, volatility, viscosity index, oxidation and nitration resistance, pour points, flash points, deposit control, soot handling, emissions, etc. We also will utilize a high quality V.I. improver with better viscosity and cleanliness properties. This replaces the inexpensive, low quality V.I. improver used in the API licensed petroleum formula. We do laboratory bench tests before running field tests to verify the superiority of the synthetic formula in actual use. We also continue to monitor the performance of the oil through close scrutiny of tens of thousands of oil analysis tests per year across a wide variety of vehicles all around North America and the World. AMSOIL INC. has been collecting used synthetic oil samples from passenger cars since 1982. No other oil company has such a vast database of the performance of synthetic lubricants over extended drain intervals. AMSOIL INC.'s products and formulations outperform API licensed oils. They're engineered that way. Period. Conclusion AMSOIL INC. takes pride in never having conformed to industry norms or standards when those standards are contrary to peak performance. We introduced synthetics to the automotive world in 1972 with the first synthetic motor oil to exceed API performance specifications. At that time other manufacturers refused to recognize the superior performance of synthetic motor oils. Now, however, most companies sell synthetic lubricants, vehicles are factory filled with synthetic motor oils and gear lubes, and some manufacturers even offer extended warranties if you use synthetics. AMSOIL has always offered extended drain intervals because the oil was capable of performing for extended drains, and it was the right thing to do for the consumer. Now the entire industry is moving in that direction. Ironically, GM is now extending drain intervals (as much as 12,000+ miles) through the use of their oil life monitoring system, and some foreign automakers recommend 10,000 mile and longer oil drain intervals. Additionally, competitive oil companies are now extending drain intervals and even Mobil is recommending 15,000-mile oil drains for oils that are not API SM licensed. AMSOIL is a company of firsts. That doesn't happen by always conforming to industry norms and standards. API licensing of lubricants is voluntary, and it ensures automobile manufacturers and consumers that the product meets a set of minimum standards. Should these standards, in the future, be raised to a level consistent with AMSOIL's standards for motor oil performance, AMSOIL will consider licensing all oils. For those that feel pressured to use an API licensed product, we have them and encourage you to use them (XLM, XLF, XLT, XLO and PCO). AMSOIL does offer better performing motor oils that are not API licensed for all of the reasons explained in this response. They provide our customers with alternatives to the commodity products typically available in the market today. If you want the convenience of extended drain intervals or the top performance from your vehicle, AMSOIL has taken time to engineer the very best money can buy.
 

buster

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It's an updated response from Amsoil. I think it helps explain some of the concerns many have with the API rating.
 

buster

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True, but they are using additive packages that are already approved, but must be re-licensed.
 
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quote:
Originally posted by buster: For those that use Amsoil.
quote:
The automobile manufacturers, however, have demanded that lubricants contain a maximum of only .08% phosphorous. Their reason is some manufacturers believe higher phosphorous content levels will poison the catalytic converters on their cars before they reach 120,000 miles, which is the number of miles that vehicles are required to pass EPA emission standards. There is not total agreement within the automotive and lubrication industry about whether phosphorous levels over .08% actually do harm catalytic converters in the long run. What they have failed to make allowances for is the NOACK volatility of an oil, the volatility of the phosphorus itself, or the oil drain intervals. The maximum allowable NOACK volatility percentage for the SM/GF-4 passenger car motor oil specification is 15%. Most of AMSOIL motor oils are in the 5% to 8% NOACK volatility range. There is a correlation between NOACK volatility and oil consumption, which ends up in the exhaust gasses. Therefore, higher phosphorous, low volatility oils present no more risk to catalytic converters than low phosphorous oils with higher volatility. This has also been demonstrated for years in actual application through state mandated exhaust gas testing on our Dealers' and customers' high mileage vehicles using AMSOIL synthetic motor oils. State inspectors are continually amazed at the low emissions levels generated by vehicles using AMSOIL products. So much for poisoning catalytic converters.

Thanks for posting this buster. It certainly clarifies Amsoil position. (Pabs should bookmark it too. [Wink] ) However, I'll have to disagree somewhat with the above section. Manufacturers know that some of their engines, whether intended or not, will consume oil no matter the NOACK volatility of the oil. It may be due to owner neglect and/or a design flaw combined with user behavior peculiarities. Case in point, early LS-1 engines continually driven in lower gears than normal. The lower phosphorus limits thus provide somewhat of an insurance policy that the EPA won't force them to replace millions of catalytic converters down the road. Individuals may disagree and ignore the manufacturers strategy, but there is some method to the madness from a corporate point of view.
 
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Has anyone ever seen proof that the burning of phosphorous was the true reason that a cat failed? I have not, nor have anyone I've ever spoken to on the matter, but I have noticed that the only time it gets mentioned is when someone suggests Amsoil. Many forums I have read through all argue against the use of Amsoil for this very reason, but the people whom I have spoken with, and who have used Amsoil for years, never once had any kind of issue with poisoning of the cat. But no one ever mentions that cars that consume excessive amounts of oil due to broken piston rings will soon poison the cat. I'm not trying to say that this is never stated, but out of all the forums I have read, the only time cat poisoning was mentioned was then someone was recommended Amsoil.
 
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quote:
Originally posted by Toy4x4runner: my bro's LS1 consumes oil... just disapears! Rotella doesn't disappear as fast as M1.
Does he have an earlier LS-1? The Rotella is masking the problem, it doesn't solve it.
 
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I get a chuckle out of those paragraphs myself, but for slightly different reasons. If you search for some of my statements on P levels and cat poisoning, I wrote almost exactly the same words right here on BiTOG and other automotive forums over the years. [Smile] No need to bookmark. I actually don't argue the whole API thing that much anymore for a couple reasons. One being the greatness of the Amsoil XL line and the other being that SL and SM really are quantum leap improvements and it has NOTHING to do with, and in fact may be in spite of, lower P levels.
 
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quote:
Originally posted by Pablo: If you search for some of my statements on P levels and cat poisoning, I wrote almost exactly the same words right here on BiTOG and other automotive forums over the years.
And thus, you were propagating the same fallacy. [Cool]
 
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Well not everyone agrees that it is completely false logic - that was your postulation, if I recall correctly [Smile] . While I do agree that most engines do indeed consume oils via other methods beside volatility, that portion I was "propagating" was the magic P number cutoff. The numbers are arbitrary. Plain and simple. Sure I understand what you are writing that "the lower the better" (for supposed cat protection), but I haven't seen a shred of evidence that a car with a cat running a 0.10% P oil with even moderately high oil consumption, (1 qt/3000 miles) will "prematurely" poison a cat. If you are burning, say 1 qt/1000 miles.....well you have other problems, but even then, how soon will that cat be poisoned with a .10 vs a 0.08% P oil?
 

buster

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quote:
will consume oil no matter the NOACK volatility of the oil. It may be due to owner neglect and/or a design flaw combined with user behavior peculiarities.
Agree. Take M1 for example. Very low volatility usually around 7-9%max yet some engines, it gets consumed more. I think the SM Amsoil is an improvement personally. The UOA's as of lately have been better. Probably a more expensive replacement, but it seems to be working. There were times in the past where I thought Amsoil was really over rated and over priced.
 
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Point taken, Pabs. However, a scan of the SAE papers shows this subject has been studied for more than two decades and is a real phenomenon, just hard to quantify across generalities. But let's make some numbers up for kicks and giggles. Say an engine that uses a quart/3000 miles will "poison the converter" in 300K miles with .10% P oil. Therefore for .08% P oil, it may take 375K miles. Now say we take the same engine and use it such that it uses a quart/1000 miles (not rare for early LS-1s under certain conditions). We then find that the "converter is poisoned" at 100K miles with .10% P oil, and for .08% P oil it takes 125K miles and thus enough to make it through the EPA warranty period. While I made up numbers here, I'm quite sure the manufacturers are performing the same exercises with real numbers.
 
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Thank you Bill, glad to know I am not the only one who has noticed this. I am not a mechanic, I know a fair amount, but I even spoke to a friend, who knows and has a lot more car experience than I, on this subject. He responded with age and worn O2 sensors, which are the only reasons I have ever heard. There was an interview with the AJ Amatuzio and Dean Alexander ( https://www.amsoil.com/articlespr/lubes_n_greases/mcfallarticle_aug05.pdf ), and a good point was made from Dean Alexander. He stated that after each oil change, there is an initial spike in phosphorous for the first few hundred miles, and after that, the phosphorous volatility is a low lower. So each time a 3,000-5,000 mile oil drain takes place, you probably put more phosphorous through the converted than a 25,000 mile oil drain (or at least that's what I was getting out of the interview). I'm no scientist or engineer, so I cannot validate the comments, I can only speculate as everyone else. There could be some biased opinions behind this, so I am not taking Dean's word 100% that it will never ever happen, but I have yet to see the proof.
 
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Since Dean Alexander is the executive vice president and general manager for Amsoil, I hesitate to accept what's said as unbiased. As mentioned before, there's quite a few credible technical papers on the subject. Just because you haven't looked for and read them, doesn't mean they don't exist. Further, it makes no sense for the auto manufacturers to advocate for the reduction in phosphorus if it means their engines would wear out sooner or require more frequent oil changes. On the contrary, there's a big marketing push to claim low total cost of ownership these days.
 
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I won't take Dean's word for sure, though I google searched "phosphorus causing catalytic converter failure" to see what I could find.These may not be SAE/EPA reports, but it's research of the subject. http://www.platinumresearch.com/press_release_16.htm This report made it seem that ZDDP was the cause for deactivating the catalyst, which if that does happen, then it would take some time to show up. http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qa3828/is_199905/ai_n8835448 This one also mentions that zinc and phosphorous can be the cause, but it also mentions silicon, lead, and sulfur as well. http://www.neuralblog.com/_content/Auto-Technology/CATALYTIC-CONVERTERS-and-O2-SENSORS_bid-343_pn-1.html "Normally these trace metals do not cause a problem. But in a high mileage engine with worn valve guides, rings and/or cylinders, oil burning can pump enough oil into the exhaust to foul the converter." I agree that having a worn out engine with excessive oil consumption would poison the catalytic converter, but that would happen with any oil. If someone has a car that all of a sudden starts gulping down oil left and right, then they should be able to determine that there is a major problem with the engine. Just from reading those, it's easy to see that phosphorous can be a major problem with catalytic converters, but I do believe that it depends on the vehicle and what it's consumption rate is. If the car burns little to no oil, there probably won't be much phosphorous getting into the system, but then the cars that burn 1 quart per 1000 miles will get a lot more in. The auto manufacturer's should have tested their vehicles for these consumption conditions long enough to know if the catalytic converter was going to fail. I also believe that Amsoil Inc. should have enough tests done to ensure that their oil's amount of ZDDP are not the direct cause for the catalytic converter failure.
 
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quote:
Originally posted by ConfederateTyrant: Just from reading those, it's easy to see that phosphorous can be a major problem with catalytic converters, but I do believe that it depends on the vehicle and what it's consumption rate is. If the car burns little to no oil, there probably won't be much phosphorous getting into the system, but then the cars that burn 1 quart per 1000 miles will get a lot more in. The auto manufacturer's should have tested their vehicles for these consumption conditions long enough to know if the catalytic converter was going to fail. I also believe that Amsoil Inc. should have enough tests done to ensure that their oil's amount of ZDDP are not the direct cause for the catalytic converter failure.
A lot of "I believe's" and "they should of's". The reality is, many vehicles out there use a quart/1K miles. And we see that reported here to. Scale up the memebership here to the total vehicle population. As stated before, manufacturers are taking a CYA approach and the original reference above misleads because it only talks about NOACK volatility. Here's one of my beliefs. Amsoil could probably increase their customer base if they cut back on the zealotry.
 
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