Mostly Mechanical

Auto & Truck Oils, Lubes & Filters – Separating Technology from Hype

Good thing Amsoil doesn’t stoop to API Licensing

Irresponsible and unqualified “maroons” too often leave ugly trash commments on vehicle forums, making grossly incorrect statements about Amsoil synthetic oils that just infuriate me. Like this classic gem from the Slant Six forum: “Don’t let the Scamsoil droids convince you their expensive gunk is superior to properly-tested, properly-certified regular or synthetic name brand oil.” Or over at you find “Most of Scamsoil’s products ARE NOT API certified!!!! Sounds like you have been reading the lies on the Scamsoil website, stay away”.

If they were merely sharing their opinion and stating their credentials, people wouldn’t have much heartburn over it. But to make false statements like that, irresponsibly leading people away from the superior performance and lower costs of advanced technology, gets me irate.

So, for the record, let’s establish qualifications before we talk about facts. I’m a B.S. degreed Mechanical Engineer. I’ve been in industry for more than 20 years, the last 5 as an engineering manager, and have spent more than the last 10 in the Tier 1 and Tier 2 suppliers, where most automotive parts are made and a lot of value-added engineering is done to improve the products and manufacturing processes. As a matter of fact, while the OEM has some involvement when a subassembly has a defect, guess who is required to do an “8-D” root-cause analysis, implement corrective actions, and monitor to make sure the CA’s are effective and it can’t happen again?

In 2004 I bought a 2002 GMC Sierra with the Duramax turbodiesel and Allison transmission package. That was the beginning of a journey of extensive personal research into vehicle drivetrain lubrication and filtration, and a growing passion to tell people the astonishing facts I learned. I became an Amsoil dealer, not only to help people get literature and best pricing, but to continue learning.

Opinions are as worthless as armpits – everyone has one, but most of them are smelly. And you can see some of the smelly opinions in detail on this “scamsoil” page for Amsoil skeptics, which corrects Amsoil myths using facts.  I tell people what I know, and the conclusions I can reasonably prove with facts and data. So let’s talk about facts. But before I can get far, I have to explain the common sense backdrop to correctly “frame” the facts.

I find it interesting how one-sided the online forums often are: if an Amsoil dealer makes a statement, he’s often dissed, disbelieved, and ridiculed – even if he’s an engineer. If he’s not a “supporting sponsor” of the forum who is paying for the right to make “commercial” comments, he may get warned, censored or kicked off by the moderators for “advertising” helpful facts or suggestions. However, no one seems to question if naysayers have ever worked for petroleum suppliers, if they have an engineering degree, or if they have had training sponsored by “big oil” – and they aren’t required to be a paying sponsor to make glowing recommendations of petro oils. Couple that with a forum’s discussion environment of one or two pararaph comments, and the deck is strongly stacked against open an discussion of engineering facts and test data.

Executive Summary-in-One-Paragraph of the
Facts on API Certification of Synthetic Engine Oils
Under Their EOLCS:

Unfortunately for consumers, the API has no Certification for high performance: only minimum performance. Further, the API provides no reasonable certification options for genuine Group IV and Group V synthetics, deliberately maintaining a skewed structure that multiplies synthetic test costs by several times. In addition, the API Certification adds content restrictions (not required by the SAE, not required by the OEM’s) that prevent long drain intervals and prevent very low wear rates. So the world of API Licensing implies that high-profit mediocre products are high performance, it ensures that only petroleum-company oils can be cost-effectively Certified by the API, and it ensures that the world’s highest-performance products cannot be API Licensed/Certified at all. Fortunately for consumers who want high performance and high value, the API Certification monopoly is a voluntary trademark Licensing program that does not matter in vehicle warranties.

Now, that’s stunning information for many people.  So let me clarify:

Close examination of the OEM Owners’ Manuals shows that engine oils must meet the API/SAE Service Grade requirements that the OEM states.  Continue reading


May 23, 2009 Posted by | Amsoil, Fleet, Lubrication Oils & Fluids, Scamsoil, Synthetic Oil | , , , , , , | 5 Comments

VW 505.01 Spec – Is Amsoil AFL “approved”?

AMSOIL AFL Bottle LabelI got an e-mail this week from a mobile lube company owner, asking about the AMSOIL European Car Formula 5W-40 product (“AFL” product code). 

I use Amsoil in my personal cars and sell quite a bit to customers. There seems to be a lot of discussion on several boards about VW 505.01 Approval list and the fact that Amsoil is not listed. I can understand that there could be many reasons for this, but…”

AMSOIL AFL Bottle Label

The AMSOIL “European Car Formula 5W-40 Motor Oil” (AFL) IS approved by VW and Mercedes, and DOES meet the 505.01 VW spec and 229.51 Mercedes Benz spec.  Some older lists (especially the original lists) do not include the AMSOIL product, because for several months they (Volkswagon) would not release either the spec or testing requirements, or identify a testing lab that could perform the tests – this is a common delay/ploy intended to benefit the original oil mf’r (such as Castrol) who worked with them to formulate the spec and product.  The only questions are the product code and the age of the cases you have in stock.  If they have the AFL product code and have been purchased since about February 2006 (very rough approximation), they will have the new label you see here which is the new formulation.  The old version of Amsoil’s AFL did not meet the new spec because of the tighter restrictions on Zinc content, which is a key component to most high-end-product wear-reduction additive packages: some exhaust design engineers are concerned about the possibility that certain forms of Zinc could possibly reduce the long term performance of extremely low emission catalytic converters.  It remains to be seen whether these concerns have any validating data, or if the concerns are related only to specific zinc compounds.  Meanwhile the oil companies are forced to use much higher cost wear-control additives if they want to meet the new specification. 

For those who aren’t aware, this oil is designed to meet all the European specs for both gasoline and DIESEL engine applications, including the latest ultra-clean-emissions diesels with diesel particulate filter (DPF) units.  Here are some performance details on the product:

September 23, 2006 Posted by | Lubrication Oils & Fluids | , , , | Leave a comment