Your Quick Guide to the ILSAC GF-6 and API SP Motor Oil Standards.

You are currently viewing Your Quick Guide to the ILSAC GF-6 and API SP Motor Oil Standards.

As a lube shop owner or consumer, you may have seen quite a bit of buzz about the new ILSAC GF-6 and AP SP motor oil specifications, coming into effect May 1, 2020.

But what are these specifications all about and why do we need them?

What You Need to Know About ILSAC GF-6 and API SP

ILSAC GF-6 and API SP are new, higher performance passenger car oil categories.


GF-6 will replace the GF-5 category and is divided into two separate sub-categories:

  • GF-6A: Fully backward-compatible for older vehicles that previously used GF-5 oils.
  • GF-6B: Covers the new, lower-viscosity oil grade OW-16 and will NOT be backward-compatible in most cases (unless specified by the OEM).

For Gasoline Engines SAE 0W-16


SP is the API’s newest service category. ILSAC GF-6 applies to the fuel efficient viscosity grades, while API SP applies to those heavier viscosity grades like 10W40 and 20W50.

API SP will be fully backward-compatible with previous API service categories, including API SN PLUS, SN, SM, SL or SJ.

GF-6 Everything You Need to Lnow - API Service SP


Why Have These New Motor Oil Specifications Been Developed?

ILSAC GF-6 and API SP have been developed in response to three major drivers:

1. Environmental Regulations

New environmental regulations, focused on reducing greenhouse gas emissions and improving fuel economy, have required OEMs to make changes, including:

  • New engine technologies: OEMs have developed lighter weight and higher performance engine technologies that require more advanced motor oils.
  • Low-viscosity motor oils: OEMs have pushed for the development of lower-viscosity oils that also help improve fuel efficiency and reduce emissions.

2. Market Forces

Today OEMs are being challenged to reduce emissions and improve fuel economy.

  • Climate change: 66% of American’s are at least “somewhat worried” about climate change 1
  • Fuel economy: 88% of American’s agree that “automakers should continue to improve fuel economy for all vehicle types.” 2

3. Technological Advancements

New engine technologies help reduce emissions and improve fuel economy, but require more advanced motor oil formulations.

  • Turbocharged Gasoline Direct Injection (TGDI) Engines
    • Allows for a smaller engine to make roughly the same horsepower as a larger engine
    • These engines can present problems with low speed pre-ignition (LSPI), leading to catastrophic damage
    • GF-6 and API SP oils are formulated to help protect against LSPI
  • Start-Stop Engine Technology
    • Allows the engine to stop and start automatically to reduce fuel usage
    • These engines can present issues with sludge formation and varnish deposits
    • GF-6 and API SP oils help prevent these issues

The Benefits of the GF-6 and API SP Motor Oil Standards

The ILSAC GF-6 and API SP motor oils will offer a range of benefits for the environment, OEMs, and consumers, including:

  • Decreased greenhouse gas emissions
  • Improved fuel economy
  • Increased ability for OEMs to comply with environmental regulations
  • Improved wear protection, especially for newer engine technologies
  • Reduced sludge formation and varnish deposits for start-stop engines
  • Protection from the LSPI phenomenon in TGDI engines

Kendall® Motor Oil has been involved in the development of the new GF-6 and API SP standards since day one.

And starting May 2020, our full line up of motor oils will meet these new specifications.

You can count on the same high level of protection and performance Kendall has always provided with the added benefits of the new standards.

Check out our GF-6 video series and FAQs to learn more!

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