5W-20 Oil Requirements

In 2001 Ford started recommending a new oil specification. This new specification would basically become the new ILSAC GF-3 requirement. Because the GF-3 rating had not gone into effect yet there were very few oils available that met the new specifications that Ford was requiring. API would not license the GF-3 rating until July 1, 2001 and even then the oil manufactures could still meet the old GF-2 rating and claim to meet the latest API criteria up until March 31, 2002.

The new GF-3 API requirement has been in place for over a year now but currently, not all GF-3 oils meet the Ford Specification of WSS-M2C153-H. Also some oil manufactures are not producing a 5W-20 weight oil but instead suggest you use their 5W-30 oil instead which may be GF-3 rated.

From the 2001 Owners Manual

So we are looking at two different requirements

  • SL service rated by the API
  • Meets the Ford WSS-M2C153-H specifications

What do I get if use an oil that meets the new SL service requirement?
5W-20 oil that is API certified in service SL.

  • Improved fuel economy
  • Improved high temperature deposit performance
  • New foam requirement, ensuring protection from wear in high engine speed accelerations

What do I get if use an oil that meets the new Ford WSS-M2C153-H requirement?
5W-20 oil that meets Fords new WSS-M2C153-H specification meets not only the GF-3 requirements but also meets

  • Double length Sequence oxidation test that demonstrates significantly improved oil life
  • Exceeds the GF-3 standard for the Thermal Engine Oil Stability Test

Many people have expressed concerns about the oil being too light for the summer time and have chosen to use a heavier multi-weight oil. Basically they are concerned that the oil will thin out too much when it gets hot and not have enough protection. Naturally everyone wants to use the oil that will protect their engine the best, but just because it is heavier does not mean it will protect better.

It looks like the new Ford spec addresses this concern and in fact may protect better than heavier multigrade oils.

Along with Ford requiring the GF-3 specs for 2001-year vehicles was Honda. While Ford says that the new 5W-20 is not suitable for previous years vehicles, Honda went ahead and suggested that it be used in Accords back to 1998 and back to 1996 for the Honda Civics.

NOTE: Many times people are quick to point out that oil is oil and that if it meets the API service requirement then it is all the same, why not just buy the cheapest oil you can? Sounds good to me, I only have one point to make and that is to have the API certification they all at least meet the MINIMUM requirement. This does not mean that they are all of identical quality and that one is not better than the other.

Below is some basic information about API certification, either the oil meets the requirement or it does not...

API Certification Overview

The American Petroleum Institute's (API) Quality Marks - the API Service Symbol ("donut") and the API Certification Mark ("starburst") - help consumers identify quality engine oils for their gasoline and diesel-powered vehicles

API-licensed marketers may display two types of Marks: the API Service Symbol and the API Certification Mark. Each Mark conveys information that can be used by the consumer.

The API Service Symbol "donut" is divided into three parts:

  • The top half describes the oil's performance level
  • The center identifies the oil's viscosity
  • The bottom half tells whether the oil has demonstrated energy-conserving properties in a standard test in comparison to a reference oil

The API Certification Mark

The API Certification Mark "starburst" is designed to identify engine oils recommended for a specific application (such as gasoline service). An oil may be licensed to display the starburst only if the oil satisfies the most current requirements of the International Lubricant Standardization and Approval Committee (ILSAC) minimum performance standard for this application.

Want to check and see what your engine and your oil are really doing?
Only one way to do it and that is with an oil analysis. Here are a few places that can tell you what your engine and your oil are doing.




Is your Oil API Certified? You can Check here to see if it is.

There has been a lot of discussion about some of the tests and claims of certain synthetic oil manufactures. Several oil manufactures quote a Four Ball Wear Test (ASTM D 4172)

What is the Four Ball Wear Test (ASTM D 4172)?
ASTM Site explains the Four Ball Wear Test (ASTM D 4172)as follows:

In the first paragraph they say the test is for lubricating fluid but in the second paragraph they mention grease. Read this part closely. They are saying that for GREASE you use the same test machine but the test method is defined by ASTM D2266.

What is the test?
Basically they take four metal balls and place three in a triangle and set the fourth ball on top of the three. They rotate the fourth ball and then measure the amount of wear. The controlled settings are

  • Amount of pressure applied to the balls
  • Speed at which the ball turns
  • Temperature of the balls
  • Length of the test
  • Balls are all made from the same material

People have stated that this is not a fair test because your engine is made up of more than just this one type of metal. Of course this is true but I doubt if it would be feasible to set up a test standard for each and every metal combination.

The purpose of the test is to compare one oil to another oil using the same controls.

I emailed an oil analysis lab that performs the Four Ball Wear Test(ASTM D 4172) and asked if this was an approperiate test for motor oil.

This is the response that I received....

As a consumer I believe that knowing what the Four Ball Wear Test results are would help me to determine which oil I want to use.

What if your favorite oil does not quote the Four Ball Wear Test? Well you could spend $60 to get the test done at an independent lab. Or you might be lead to believe that if they are not quoting the Four Ball Wear Test results that they are not very proud of their scores...

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