Understanding ILSAC ratings for automotive lubricants
What is ILSAC?
ILSAC was founded to define the need for lubricant specifications in collaboration with the Tripartite system, comprised of the American Petroleum Institute (API), the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE), and the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM). Together, they established the Engine Oil Licensing and Certification System (EOLCS). This voluntary program allows engine oil marketers who meet specific requirements to use the API Engine Oil Quality Marks. These marks help consumers identify quality engine oils for their petrol-powered vehicles. ILSAC oil specifications often carry the API Service Symbol (Donut), including the Energy Conserving designation and API Certification Mark (Starburst).
ILSAC Oil Specifications
ILSAC has defined several specifications for automotive oils, denoted by the terminology ILSAC GF-x, which are based on API service categories but bring additional performance requirements and restrictions in viscosity grades that can claim to meet an ILSAC standard.
ILSAC GF-1: This standard was created in 1990 and upgraded in 1992. It became the minimum requirement for oil used in American and Japanese automobiles, indicating that it meets API SH and the Energy Conserving II (EC-II) requirements.
ILSAC GF-2: Established in 1996 to replace GF-1, it demands that oil meet API SJ and EC-II requirements. It set more stringent requirements for phosphorus content, low-temperature operation, high-temperature deposits, and foam control.
ILSAC GF-3: This standard, requiring oil to meet API SL and EC-II requirements, was introduced with enhanced parameters regarding long-term effects on the vehicle’s emission system, improved fuel economy, and improved volatility, deposit control, and viscosity performance. It also requires less additive degradation and reduced oil consumption rates over the service life of the oil.
ILSAC GF-4: This standard is similar to the API SM service category but requires an additional sequence VIB Fuel Economy Test (ASTM D6837).
ILSAC GF-5: Introduced in October 2010 for 2011 and older vehicles, this standard was designed to provide improved high-temperature deposit protection for pistons and turbochargers, more stringent sludge control, improved fuel economy, enhanced emission control system compatibility, seal compatibility, and protection of engines operating on ethanol-containing fuels up to E85.
ILSAC GF-6: This is the most recent ILSAC specification, divided into two sub-specifications, GF-6A and GF-6B. GF-6A is fully backwards compatible with ILSAC GF-5, offering better fuel economy, better engine protection, improved performance, and maintaining durability. GF-6B delivers similar performance to ILSAC GF-5A, but it allows lower viscosity oils like xW-16, taking advantage of the fuel economy benefits offered by the new SAE 16 viscosity grade.
Implications of ILSAC GF-6
ILSAC standards constantly evolve to meet changing industry demands. GF-6 is designed to provide better fuel economy, enhanced engine capabilities, low-speed pre-ignition (LSPI) and timing chain wear protection while improving piston cleanliness. LSPI can cause excessive pressure within the engine’s cylinders, leading to permanent damage and potentially catastrophic engine failure. Therefore, this protection is of significant importance for turbocharged engines.
ILSAC’s role in the motor oil industry is fundamental. It helps bridge the gap between motor oil manufacturers and automakers, ensuring that automotive oils meet specific requirements that benefit the performance and longevity of vehicles. Ensure that the motor oil you choose meets or exceeds your vehicle’s manufacturer’s requirements to maintain optimal engine health and performance.