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AMSOIL Non - API Oils and the API Licensing Compromise

This article was written by AMSOIL INC.and is re-printed with permission so you will have a full understanding of API ratings and why not all AMSOIL lubricants are API rated.  AMSOIL non - API oils and the API licensing compromise limits the performance of a motor oil.

Q. Why aren't all AMSOIL motor oils API licensed?

A. Good question. Let us address API licensing in depth, as well as the
issue of warranties. Some AMSOIL motor oils are API licensed, some are not.
If you're concerned about your warranty and feel pressures to use an API
licensed oil, even after reading this answer, then the XL 5W-20 (XLM), 5W-
30 (XLF), 10W-30 (XLT) and 10W-40 (XLO) or our 15W-40 (PCO) API licensed oils
should be your choice. If you are looking for an alternative to frequent oil
changes or just want the best performing oil for your car, then one of our top
tier non-API licensed synthetic oils are for you. Read on, and decide for

API Licensing - Passenger Cars - What is it?

An API (American Petroleum Institute) license indicates that a specific
motor oil formulation has passed the minimum performance standards as
defined by a series of laboratory bench, physical, chemical and engine
tests. These tests were selected and minimum performance standards were set
by the API Lubricants Committee to address specific areas such as engine
wear, deposits, fuel economy, emissions, etc. The committee is comprised of
representatives from automobile, oil and additive companies. The current
specification is SM/GF-4 for gasoline engines and CI-4 Plus for severe-duty
diesel engine service and CF for indirect injected diesel engine service.


The cost for running a test program for a single fuel efficient passenger
car motor oil formulation is from $230,000 to $350,000, depending on if the
formula passes the tests the first time through or requires multiple test
runs or formula modifications to achieve a passing average (testing costs
for heavy-duty diesel are running from $750,000 to $1,000,000). Once that
testing is complete and the formula has passed all of the minimum
requirements, it can be licensed for $1050 per year for non-members and
$850 per year for members. There is also a royalty fee per gallon sold for
all gallons over one million. The length of time between new specifications
is now approximately 2 to 3 years, which does not allow a great deal of
time to recover testing costs.

Who Licenses What Formulas?

Additive companies, such as Lubrizol, Afton, Infineum and Oronite, develop
licensed formulas that they offer to oil companies to re-license. It is
inexpensive to re-license one of these formulas, and the majority of oil
companies choose to do this to avoid the costs associated with testing.
This lowers the value of engines oils as the same chemistry is being sold
under many brand names. Some of the major oil companies do have their own
proprietary formulas developed, tested and licensed. All lubricant formulas
from AMSOIL INC. are unique and proprietary.

Flexibility In Manufacturing An API Licensed Formula

API licensing was originally developed for mineral based oils, and it
affords these oils more flexibility than synthetic oils.

Mineral oils comprised of Group I and Group II petroleum basestocks may use
a simple program called base stock interchange for added flexibility in
manufacturing and purchasing. Interchange means that by completing the
proper paperwork and running a few minor tests an oil company can choose to
buy these petroleum basestocks from many different suppliers. This ensures
adequate supply and competitive pricing. However, Group III and Group V
base stocks are supplier specific and base stock interchange is not
allowed. For example, if a formula was tested with an ester (Group V) base
stock from a specific supplier, then only that supplier’s ester can be
used. Complete engine testing would be required to use that exact same
ester from another supplier and is not performed because of the associated
costs. This inflexibility makes price negotiations with synthetic base
stock suppliers very difficult and it increases business risk. Supply
disruptions from only one source could shut down production. Click HERE for
more information about Group I through Group V basestocks. There is also
something called viscosity grade read-across. Fortunately, this applies to
both petroleum and synthetic basestocks although the better cold
temperature performance of synthetics makes it more difficult to achieve in
some situations. (That's another whole story). What this means is that if
you properly formulate the lubricant for which you have run all of the API
tests, there are guidelines that allow you to use that same basic formula
to make 5W-20, 5W-30, 10W-30, etc. viscosity motor oil.

Finally, there is a rule for substitutions in the CMA (Chemical
Manufacturers Association) code of practice that allows a small degree of
flexibility for all formulas. It allows a company to make changes of
certain components in the formula with limited testing and paperwork
requirements, provided the additives are at the same or higher
concentration. Key Limitations For API Licensed Formulas

Phosphorous content - .06% minimum to .08% maximum (API SM; 0W-20, 5W-20,0W-30,
5W-30, 10W-30 viscosity grades, only)

NOACK volatility - 15% maximum.

The prevalent sources of phosphorous in motor oils are additives called
zinc dithiophosphates (ZDPs). These versatile additives contribute to
reduced oxidation, corrosion and wear. The automobile manufacturers,
however, have demanded that lubricants contain a maximum of only .08%
phosphorous. Their reason is some manufacturers believe higher phosphorous
content levels will poison the catalytic converters on their cars before
they reach 120,000 miles, which is the number of miles that vehicles are
required to pass EPA emission standards. There is not total agreement
within the automotive and lubrication industry about whether phosphorous
levels over .08% actually do harm catalytic converters in the long run.
What they have failed to make allowances for is the NOACK volatility of an
oil, the volatility of the phosphorus itself, or the oil drain intervals.

The maximum allowable NOACK volatility percentage for the SM/GF-4 passenger
car motor oil specification is 15%. Most of AMSOIL motor oils are in the 5%
to 8% NOACK volatility range. There is a correlation between NOACK
volatility and oil consumption, which ends up in the exhaust gasses.
Therefore, higher phosphorous, low volatility oils present no more risk to
catalytic converters than low phosphorous oils with higher volatility. This
has also been demonstrated for years in actual application through state
mandated exhaust gas testing on our Dealers' and customers' high mileage
vehicles using AMSOIL synthetic motor oils. State inspectors are
continually amazed at the low emissions levels generated by vehicles using
AMSOIL products. So much for poisoning catalytic converters. Why Some
AMSOIL Synthetic Motor Oils Are API Licensed And Some Are Not

1. Full API licensing puts AMSOIL INC. in an inflexible position. Not only
would we find it necessary to buy formula components from specific vendors
and be at the mercy of their pricing and availability, we would not be able
to make any major improvements to the lubricant formulas for 2 to 3 years
without new testing and the associated costs. To solve this problem, the
API must establish base stock interchange guidelines for synthetic
basestocks just as they have for other basestocks, as well as develop
interchange guidelines for other components too.

2. Full API licensing would impose strict phosphorous limitations on our
motor oils. AMSOIL INC. disagrees with this limitation and feels strongly
that consumers benefit from long drain, low volatility oils that pose no
threat to catalytic converters. To solve this issue, the API and vehicle
manufacturers must develop tests and make exceptions for high phosphorus,
long drain interval, low volatility oils. Warranties And API Licensed Motor

Fortunately, the law does not allow manufacturers to "void your warranty"
simply because of the brand of oil you use, the specifications it meets or
the miles you drive between oil changes. To be specific, they cannot deny
fixing your broken radio, faulty valve or cracked piston because you used
an AMSOIL non-API licensed motor oil, or because you've gone more than 3000
miles since your last oil change. Denial of warranty coverage must be
specifically due to an oil related failure. Courts of law will find against
any manufacturer or dealership that tries these warranty shenanigans. If
any automobile dealership insinuates that your warranty will be void if you
use AMSOIL products or utilize extended drain intervals, let AMSOIL INC.
know the name of the Dealership, the address, the owner's name and the name
of the employee that made this statement.

Mail to:

AMSOIL INC. Attention: Technical Services Department AMSOIL Building
Superior, WI 54880

They will almost never put it in writing, but if they do, please send us a
copy of that, too. Either way, we will send them a letter informing them to
cease the intimidation of our customers.

Only if the oil is determined to be the direct cause of the engine problem
can a manufacturer or dealership deny warranty coverage for that specific
problem. In this situation the AMSOIL warranty would apply, and the AMSOIL
Technical Services Department would assist you in processing your claim and
in getting the vehicle repaired. That's our pledge to you. AMSOIL INC.
sells millions of gallons of oil per year and warranty claims are a rare
occurrence. If you ever have a warranty problem with an automobile
manufacturer or dealership, AMSOIL will assist you by analyzing the problem
and providing data supporting the fact that repairs should be made under
the vehicle manufacturer's warranty. If this does not resolve the problem,
AMSOIL will submit a claim with our insurance company and request that an
adjuster have the vehicle repaired and pursue legal settlement later if
necessary. Click HERE to see the AMSOIL Limited Warranty

How Does AMSOIL INC. Ensure Their Products Meet Or Exceed The Minimum
Specifications Of The Tests Required For API Licensing?

First, AMSOIL INC. works closely with major additive companies to select the top
performing, and usually most expensive, passenger car and heavy-duty diesel
motor oil additives. These additives have already passed all of the API
licensing requirements in a petroleum or synthetic based formulation. Then we
work with the additive company to maximize the amount of additive used and to
boost the additive package in selected performance areas to achieve an optimum
performing additive package for reduced wear and extended drain intervals. This
is unlike other oil companies who, because additives are expensive, use the
minimum amount of the least expensive additives required to meet the minimum API

We then utilize a blend of synthetic basestocks with known performance
characteristics as a replacement for the petroleum basestocks to optimize
performance in areas of lubricity, volatility, viscosity index, oxidation
and nitration resistance, pour points, flash points, deposit control, soot
handling, emissions, etc. We also will utilize a high quality V.I. improver
with better viscosity and cleanliness properties. This replaces the
inexpensive, low quality V.I. improver used in the API licensed petroleum
formula. We do laboratory bench tests before running field tests to verify
the superiority of the synthetic formula in actual use. We also continue to
monitor the performance of the oil through close scrutiny of tens of
thousands of oil analysis tests per year across a wide variety of vehicles
all around North America and the World. AMSOIL INC. has been collecting
used synthetic oil samples from passenger cars since 1982. No other oil
company has such a vast database of the performance of synthetic lubricants
over extended drain intervals.

AMSOIL INC.'s products and formulations outperform API licensed oils.
They're engineered that way. Period.


AMSOIL INC. takes pride in never having conformed to industry norms or
standards when those standards are contrary to peak performance. We
introduced synthetics to the automotive world in 1972 with the first
synthetic motor oil to exceed API performance specifications. At that time
other manufacturers refused to recognize the superior performance of
synthetic motor oils. Now, however, most companies sell synthetic
lubricants, vehicles are factory filled with synthetic motor oils and gear
lubes, and some manufacturers even offer extended warranties if you use
synthetics. AMSOIL has always offered extended drain intervals because the
oil was capable of performing for extended drains, and it was the right
thing to do for the consumer. Now the entire industry is moving in that
direction. Ironically, GM is now extending drain intervals (as much as
12,000+ miles) through the use of their oil life monitoring system, and
some foreign automakers recommend 10,000 mile and longer oil drain
intervals. Additionally, competitive oil companies are now extending drain
intervals and even Mobil is recommending 15,000-mile oil drains for oils
that are not API SM licensed. AMSOIL is a company of firsts. That doesn't
happen by always conforming to industry norms and standards.

API licensing of lubricants is voluntary, and it ensures automobile
manufacturers and consumers that the product meets a set of minimum
standards. Should these standards, in the future, be raised to a level
consistent with AMSOIL's standards for motor oil performance, AMSOIL will
consider licensing all oils. For those that feel pressured to use an API
licensed product, we have them and encourage you to use them (XLM, XLF,
XLT, XLO and PCO). AMSOIL does offer better performing motor oils that are
not API licensed for all of the reasons explained in this response. They
provide our customers with alternatives to the commodity products typically
available in the market today. If you want the convenience of extended
drain intervals or the top performance from your vehicle, AMSOIL has taken
time to engineer the very best money can buy.

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Option 1 - The Best Option!

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Enhanced Synthetic Oil,

a Division of Racers Products, LLC

Kent Whiteman

Amsoil Regency Dealer

Ogden, Utah 84403

Phone Toll Free: 877-786-9582



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