Dana & Mike Smith
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The Diesel Oil Revolution Continues!



Whether you're a diesel enthusiast or aspire to one day own a diesel vehicle, you might want to read on since the world of diesel-powered vehicles is changing yet again. Many of us are still a bit scorned from the introduction of API CJ-4 diesel oils in 2007, designed for vehicles equipped with emissions-reducing diesel particulate filters (DPF). There's a ton of information available arguing for and against DPFs, and I can't say I'm in love with them, but for the sake of the clean air we all need to breathe, we best accept them and move on.

More change is coming, and I'm happy to say that the change has no negative consequences and we should all look forward to the new API specifications set to take effect this December.

If you opperate a diesel shop, some of your customers might not know much about API specifications and what they mean to diesel owners. Most people simply want to know that the diesel oil they run in their trucks or equipment is providing the best possible protection - they couldn't care less about API specifications. But API specifications are vital to setting the bar for diesel oil performance.

The current API diesel specification is CJ-4. This December, API will introduce two new diesel specifications: CK-4 and FA-4.

CK-4 will be backward-compatible with CJ-4 and should be used in all applications requiring CJ-4 oils. The twist comes with FA-4 - its current design is not backward-compatible, and it's recommended only for model year 2017 and newer engines.

Why two specifications? Simply put, to satisfy fuel-economy requirements. The EPA wants our vehicles and equipment to run more efficiently and burn less fuel while trying to produce the same horsepower and torque. We now have two different specifications to understand, and it's important to make the right recommendation to avoid negative consequences.

The new CK-4 specification will provide much better engine protection compared to CJ-4. Large governing organizations responsible for this specification spent countless hours and millions of dollars in development to ensure oils that meet CK-4 deliver improvements in several key areas, including better liner-scuffing protection, reduced heat for hotter running engines, shear stability for viscosity control, aeration control and more. CK-4 oils will exceed CJ-4 oils in performance while still providing extended service intervals for those looking to save time and money.

The new FA-4 specification is designed to help improve fuel economy. It does this in a couple ways. First is viscosity. You won't be seeing any SAE 40 FA-4 diesel oils. Most of them will be 10W-30, and you might even see a couple 5W-30 oils.

The second way is by reduced hightemperature/high-shear viscosity (HTHS). The minimum for CK-4 is 3.5 and the minimum for FA-4 is 2.9. Many studies have linked HTHS toimproved fuel economy. The lower the number, the better opportunity for an improvement. That is exactly what API is calling for here. This does not mean that FA-4 oils will compromise wear protection - they have to pass the same tests as CK-4 oils.

For diesel shop owners these new specs present a big change to how you should provide product recommendations to your customers. If the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) recommends a CK-4 oil, recommend the same to customers. However, if the OEM allows for use of an FA-4 oil, your customer has a choice. You can recommend an FA-4 oil to provide better fuel economy or you can recommend the CK-4 oil. The recommendation is largely dependent on what performance benefits your customer desires most, and finding out requires developing a good rapport with them.

I realize that all of this can be confusing and frustrating. The days of one spec and one viscosity are over. Engine technology is driving us to change and provide more, application-specific diesel oil options. You must be smarter when recommending diesel oil to customers. Rest assured that AMSOIL will continue to lead the way in synthetic diesel oil technology for these two new specifications, and we'll be ready in December.

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