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Roll out of new generation of engine oils went ‘delightfully smooth,’ API rep says

API Service CK-4 - SAE 10W-30

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 CCJ 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.

FA-4 - API Service - SAE 10W-30

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.

API: Fleets need to be aware of new engine oils, heed OEM recommendations

API: Fleets need to be aware of new engine oils, heed OEM recommendations

Ferrick’s key message to fleets and owner-operators regarding proper oil use was simple: Check with your engine manufacturer. “It’s not something you get cute about,” ...

API offers the following suggestions to ensure the new oils are being installed as recommended:

  • Engine Requirements – FA-4 oils may not be recommended for all new engines, so be sure to check with engine manufacturers to find out which engines are supposed to use FA-4 oil.
  • Bulk Tanks – Replacing CJ-4 with CK-4 should be a simple transition because CK-4 is backward-compatible and an improvement over CJ-4. Oil change facilities and fleets should drain down their CJ-4 bulk tanks before adding the new CK-4 oil.
  • Dispensing Oil – All dispensing equipment should be properly labeled with the product name, viscosity grade, and API standard to prevent misapplication.
  • Education – Technicians should be made aware of the changes to the oil categories and the requirements for each.

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James Jaillet is the News Editor for CCJ and Overdrive. Reach him at

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