Unified Fluids Standards?

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Sep 24, 2002
Thought I'd throw this topic out for discussion. It dawned on my when I was at the DOT site looking for info on brake fluids. For oil there is of course the SAE and API. There is some moderate info here on both sites about motor oil standards but it's not very in depth at all. I want to say 'DEXRON' is a de-facto standard set by either a manufacturer or an oil company...? The DOT is the stds setter for brake fluids. Their .gov site doesn't appear to provide any info on brake fluid standards that I have found. Not including automotive manufacturers own proprietary standards (I would not consider DEXRON proprietary for example since many seem make it or spec it), there may be other standards for various fluids. If so, what mighty some be? Has there ever been a consideration to unify some of these standards? Currently one of the most confusing ones is transmission and gear lubricants IMO. Not just automatics but even manuals. (is the API still certifying the GL standards?) Thanks,
You bring up a most interesting topic. My take is that the whole topic of lubrication fluids is so much of an art mixed with science and empirical (testing) data. The ASTM is, IMHO, one of the few really scientific approaches to lubrication and machinery fluids. However, not all of the ASTM testing procedures correlate 100% with field trials and testing. Suppose you have one standardizing organization. Will those standards coorelate with field experience and testing? Not necessarily. So I don't see any one standards organization emerging. I think the ASTM is our best bet to-date.
All ATF standards are set by the car makers...Dexron by GM, Mercon by Ford, ATF+ by Daimler-Chrysler, T-IV by Toyota, etc. Gear oil is still made to API standards, GL-5, etc., unless a car maker wishes to add a tougher standard on top of this or in addition to this...GM's new synthetic gear oil for some differentials is an example. Note that for GL-4 and GL-6, the testing equipment to qualify oils under this spec is obsolete and not available. http://www.ethyl.com/nav/default.asp?sec=products&page=la So, for unified standards, either we need car makers to agree to make components that all use the same fluids, or we all use high priced fluids that will work in units that don't need them...GM's $20/qt gear oil, for example. Ken
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