New generation of diesel engine oils on shelves now

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Updated Mar 27, 2017
API developed two visually different API Service Symbol Donuts so that consumers can easily distinguish between the two categories. The new API FA-4 Donut features a shaded section to differentiate API FA-4 oils from CK-4 oils. The API CK-4 Donut will look the same as the current CJ-4 Donut.

Two new diesel engine oil categories, replacing the oils used in diesel engines for over a decade, came to market in January, capping a development period nearly five years in the works. The roll out of those categories, CK-4 and FA-4, went “delightfully smooth,” says Kevin Ferrick of the American Petroleum Institute. Ferrick spoke to Overdrive editors at the Mid-America Trucking Showing on Thursday.

The switch was flipped Dec. 1, the date set by API for diesel engine oil marketers like Shell Rotella, Chevron Delo and Mobil Delvac to begin stamping their products with the API donut signaling the products meet API standards for CK-4 and FA-4 oils.

CK-4 is a direct replacement for the longstanding CJ-4 category. More than 400 CK-4 products have been licensed by API since Dec. 1, Ferrick says. More than 60 FA-4 oils have been licensed during that time. Both numbers are expected to grow in the coming years, Ferrick says. Nearly 1,000 products are licensed as meeting CJ-4 standards, and Ferrick expects the number of CK-4 licenses to reach a similar number within the next two to three years.

The FA-4 donut.

Since FA-4 oils are mostly recommended for 2017 year-model engines and newer, it’s unclear how much that number will grow and how quickly, Ferrick says, but API does expect FA-4-licensed products to see growth, especially as more 2017 and later engines come to market.

API CK-4 oils are backward-compatible, meaning they are designed to be used in engines where API CJ-4 engine oils have been previously recommended.

CK-4 oils are designed to improve shear stability, oxidation resistance and aeration control as well as protect against catalyst poisoning, particulate filter blocking, engine wear, piston deposits, degradation of low- and high-temperature properties, and soot-related viscosity increase.

FA-4 oils, which are thinner than their CK-4 counterparts, are meant to improve fuel economy of 2017 and later engines, thereby reducing greenhouse gas emissions. They also provide the aforementioned benefits of CK-4 oils. FA-4 products were developed as part of equipment makers’ quest to meet current and coming tractor-trailer emissions standards from the U.S. EPA.

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