Auto Service World
Feature   August 5, 2020   by Allan Janssen

GF-6: a significant upgrade to legacy fluids


The new specification represents a significant upgrade to legacy fluids, allowing service providers to give their customers more confidence in their engine protection.

By Allan Janssen

The latest oil specification, which made its debut in May, was eight years in the making.

Originally requested in 2012, ILSAC GF-6 meets the demands of modern vehicle engines, addressing higher operating temperatures, smaller engine sizes, and the increased use of turbocharging, gasoline direct injection, and stop-start technology.

Many of these design changes were driven by the ongoing quest for cleaner burning internal combustion engines. They also brought new hardware and vehicle control systems that had to be protected in a harsh environment. Lighter viscosity oil was seen as critical to running clean, but it would have to be engineered properly to do so without harming engine durability.

“ILSAC GF-6 oils have been designed to meet the engine needs of North American and Asian vehicle manufacturers who recommend them,” says Amanda Damen, category manager automotive at Petro-Canada Lubricants. “They are a one-fluid-meets-all requirement for engine oils that cover a range of new engine technologies being implemented in modern vehicles.”

Two elements that carmakers were particularly asking for protection against were timing chain wear, and low-speed pre-ignition (LSPI).

LSPI has proven to be especially common in modern engines and is can do a fair bit of damage.

According to Jeff Thompson, executive market manager for lubricant additives in North America for Infineum International Ltd., “Many end users are operating vehicles that use lower viscosity lubricants, have turbochargers, and use a solid timing chain. However, very few drivers understand that LSPI can be an engine-damaging phenomenon from which modern engines need protection and that their oil matters for this.”

Most importantly, the engine oils offer improved frictional properties that help support fuel efficiency – a key requirement of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Air Act.

It is a significant improvement over the GF-5 specification, introduced in 2010 with a spate of new performance traits, including protection against higher temperatures, deposit and sludge, as well as improved protection for aftertreatment seals.

On every measure other than aeration and volatility, ILSAC GF-6 brings significant improvements.

“The aim of the new specification is to protect new engines that offer reduced emissions and improved fuel efficiency,” says Damen. “ILSAC GF-6 approved engine oils will offer superior protection of vital engine components and greater efficiencies for engines. This includes protection against low-speed pre-ignition (LSPI), timing chain wear as well as enhanced fuel economy performance. They are expected to outperform ILSAC GF-5 engine oils due to the standard’s enhanced oxidation control, piston cleanliness (as the engines are running hotter) and fuel economy retention properties.

There will be two categories of GF-6 oils. GF-6A is for engines that take a 20 or 30-weight oil. GF-6B will offer a new performance level with the same requirements as 6A except for fuel economy, at a lower viscosity level (for 0W-16 engines).

As for GF-5, it will not be recommended after May 2021 and will become obsolete when it is no longer required or when tests become unavailable. The oils are backward compatible for the legacy fleet.

The new specification represents a significant upgrade to legacy fluids, allowing service providers to give their customers more confidence in their engine protection.