New ultra-low viscosity oils hit the automotive market

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Automakers around the world have long been grappling with the challenge to reduce emissions and improve fuel economy in gas-powered passenger cars. In recent years, that effort took on greater urgency as the Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards called for manufacturers to reach an average of 42 to 44 miles-per-gallon across their product lines by 2025. Now that deadline is up in the air – the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), which oversees the CAFE standards, is considering an EPA proposal to “freeze” the standards at 2020 levels.


Nonetheless, automotive OEMs are pressing forward with new engine technologies designed to improve fuel economy, including smaller-size engines, gasoline direct injection and turbocharging. In the process, they are specifying increasingly lower motor oil viscosities to enable reliable lubrication within the tighter parts tolerances and higher operating temperatures of these new engines. This demand is driving a trend toward full synthetic oils and pushing SAE viscosity grades to their lowest levels ever.


To meet this demand, Chevron launched its ultra-low viscosity Havoline® ProDS® Full Synthetic Motor Oil SAE 0W-16. This new oil is intended for today’s newest gas-powered and hybrid vehicles that call for the SAE 0W-16 specification. To date, Japan’s Toyota and Honda automakers have led the way in producing vehicles designed to operate on the 0W-16 standard, specifically the regular and hybrid Toyota Camry models and the Honda Fit (refer to owners’ manuals). North American OEMs are expected to follow suit in fairly short order in view of the CAFE requirements.


Chevron worked in close collaboration with OEMs to develop a product that would combine advanced engine protection with fuel economy features. In extensive proof of performance testing, Havoline ProDS was shown to meet or exceed industry requirements on a variety of measures, including wear protection, sludge and varnish control, oxidation resistance, reduced engine deposits and protection from rust and corrosion. Havoline ProDS also performed favorably in comparison testing against a leading OEM’s proprietary 0W-16 oil.


One problem that has plagued the development of downsized, high-powered engines is Low-Speed Pre-Ignition (LSPI), a tendency toward premature engine combustion prior to spark ignition at low speeds. In response, the American Petroleum Institute introduced a specification, API SN Plus, a supplemental standard to the existing API SN specification that specifically addresses LSPI mitigation. Havoline ProDS exceeds the API SN Plus standard for LSPI protection.

Regardless of where CAFE requirements net out, the trend towards more fuel efficient engines is here to stay. Automotive service shops should expect to see more and more cars coming in that require a 0W-16 motor oil. Havoline ProDS Full Synthetic Motor Oil SAE 0W-16 is now available to order. Now is the time to get ahead of the curve.


Sean Lantz
Sean Lantz is Chevron’s ISOCLEAN® Certified Lubricants Technical Specialist where he conducts research on the impacts of filtration on new lubricants. He is responsible for the development of manufacturing and laboratory processes that support Chevron’s ability to deliver high-quality lubricants certified to meet OEM cleanliness specifications. Sean holds an MS in Mechanical Engineering from the University of California, Merced and is a licensed professional engineer (CA) with experience in both powertrain and generation plant engineering.

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