Understanding the GF-6 Oil Standard
You want to make sure you’re using the best oil possible when preparing for your car or truck’s next oil change. It’s important to use fluids that are approved for use in your American-made or international-made vehicle and meet the current standards for engine oil.
· Backwards compatible for older vehicles that use GF-5
· Replaces the previous standard
· Not backwards compatible
· Specifically designed to accommodate newer low viscosity 0W-16 engine oils
What is ILSAC?
ILSAC, the International Lubricants Standardization and Approval Committee, was formed in 1992 by the AAMA and JAMA (American Automobile Manufacturers Association and Japanese Automobile Manufacturers Association) to determine minimum performance standards for oils used in gas-fueled engines.
ILSAC works alongside the American Petroleum Institute (API), the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE), and the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) to form the Engine Oil Licensing and Certification System. You will often see the API Service Symbol and/or the API Certification Mark on ILSAC oils.
Standards have been updated as engine and lubricant technologies improve. Each new standard replaces the previous one, making the earlier one obsolete. The first standard was GF-1 in 1990. The most recent, and current one, is GF-6, approved in 2020.
The ILSAC standards are based on API service categories and performance requirements, such as fuel economy improvements, higher efficiency, and lower emissions. As engine technology improves and efficiency requirements become more stringent, oil technology must improve as well.
Turbocharged Engines and LSPI
In recent years, automakers have been producing smaller, lighter weight engines. Many newer engines are Turbocharged Gasoline Direct Injection (TGDI). In fact, according to a recent study by the Vehicle Technologies division of the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, 34% of light-duty vehicles produced in 2019 were turbocharged.1 Turbocharged engines are more advanced, thermally efficient, powerful and fuel efficient when compared to similarly sized naturally aspirated engines. The oil that lubricates these engines, in turn, needs to be more advanced and formulated to maintain and protect them.
One issue that comes from turbocharged engines is low-speed pre-ignition (LSPI). LSPI is a combustion event within a turbocharged engine in which the fuel-air mixture ignites before intended, causing excessive pressure inside the engine’s cylinders. In minor cases, it can cause engine noise. But in severe cases, it can destroy the engine.
There are several factors that contribute to LSPI, including engine design, fuel composition and lubricant formulas. In terms of fluid formulation, there are two primary contributors to LSPI.
First, it is suspected that lower quality base oils may play a part. The primary purpose of a lubricant is to reduce friction in moving parts within the engine. If the base oil is lower quality, like in a conventional engine oil, it won’t provide the best lubrication. This is especially true in a higher technology engine, such as one with a turbocharger.
A second cause, and the one that has the most noticeable impact, is related to the composition of the detergents within oil formulations. Along with providing lubrication, oil is also designed to clean the engine. Detergent additives with higher concentrations of calcium leave calcium deposits that have been found to increase the frequency of LSPI.
Magnesium-based detergents, on the other hand, do not present the same problem.
In addition to calcium detergents, there are other additives that could influence LSPI, but these other compounds appear to have significantly less impact on LSPI.
When ILSAC developed the new GF-6 standards, they specifically addressed LSPI and timing chain wear protection. The new standards feature seven new tests, including one for LSPI, one for chain wear and one for low viscosity oils. All oils that make the GF-6 claim are formulated to address LSPI.
The Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA) was passed in 2007 to require all passenger automobiles, including light trucks, to meet better fuel economy standards.
As a result of this mandate, car and light truck engine development has focused heavily on improvements to energy efficiency and gas mileage, and oil formulations have had to improve to meet the demands of newer engines. Lower viscosities and fine-tuned additive packages play key roles in engine performance and efficiency. The new ILSAC GF-6 standard requires formulations that provide improved fuel economy as well as protection for engines operating on ethanol-containing fuels up to E85.
The new GF-6 standard, unlike previous ones, has been divided into two categories: GF-6A and GF-6B.
The GF-6A standard is fully backward-compatible for older vehicles that previously used GF-5 oils. In other words, if an engine previously required GF-5, newer GF-6A oils will be fully compatible with your engine. The GF-5 rating was originally introduced in 2010.
The GF-6B standard has the same requirements as GF-6A but, it is specifically designed to accommodate newer low viscosity 0W-16 engine oils. These fluids are not compatible with most older engines, so the separate category was created.
In addition to the LSPI and fuel economy requirements, GF-6 also calls for improved high-temperature deposit protection for pistons and turbochargers, more stringent sludge and varnish control, and enhanced emission control system protection.
Using the Right Oil
Your owner’s manual will tell you everything you need to know about finding the right oil for your vehicle, and some vehicles even have it on the oil cap. Remember that GF-6A oils are backward compatible, so if your manual suggests GF-5 or older, buy a GF-6A certified oil.
When you’re buying oil for your next oil change, make sure you’re buying fluids that display the API donut and/or the API Certification Mark.
To take the guesswork out of your oil change, check out our oil change kits.Factory Racing Parts has a line of oil change kits that not only offer the latest GF-6 oils, specifically designed for your vehicle, but also include a high-quality filter, a crush washer, a funnel, and an oil change reminder sticker.
The International Lubricants Standardization and Approval Committee (ILSAC) was formed to determine minimum performance standards for oils used in gas-fueled engines.
LSPI is a combustion event within a turbocharged engine in which the fuel-air mixture ignites before intended, causing excessive pressure inside the engine’s cylinders.
Turbocharged Gasoline Direct Injection (TGDI)
TGDI are more advanced, thermally efficient, powerful and fuel-efficient engines than similarly sized naturally aspirated engines.
The latest engine oil standards from ILSAC, the American Petroleum Institute (API), the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE), and the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM).
The American Petroleum Institute is a national trade association that represents all aspects of America’s gas and natural gas industry.
The Society of Automotive Engineers is a United States-based, globally active professional association and standards developing organization for engineering professionals in various industries.
The American Society for Testing and Materials is an international standards organization that develops and publishes voluntary consensus technical standards for a wide range of materials, products, systems, and services.