two technicians between two heavy oil trucks

What’s changing?

In order to meet goals for more fuel-efficient engines and fewer emissions, many next-generation engines will run at higher operating temperatures. This will require changes in engine oil composition so they can withstand more heat without sacrificing engine protection.

It will also mean that instead of one category of engine oils, we’ll have two, CK-4 and FA-4. CK-4 engine oils will be a direct replacement for the engine oils you’re using now and they’ll be “backwards compatible” to all current vehicles.

The new FA-4 engine oils will be offered in lower viscosity grades and are designed primarily for next-generation engines to help maximize fuel economy without sacrificing engine protection. These FA-4 oils may have limited backwards compatibility and would be labelled as such. Oil companies and OEMs are currently testing these products in a range of applications to demonstrate backwards compatibility of FA-4 engine oils without sacrificing engine protection.

Major differences

Fuel economy

engine close up

As CK-4 engine oils get closer to arriving you may hear the term High Temperature High Shear (HTHS) viscosity. CK-4 oils are being referred to in the industry as “High HTHS” engine oils. FA- 4 oils are being referred to as “Low HTHS” oils. These Low HTHS FA-4 oils are being designed to provide fuel economy above and beyond current CJ-4 and CK-4 oils through the use of thinner viscosity fluids.

Shear stability

vehicle light close up

Shear stability is the ability of the oil molecules to resist shearing under severe stress inside the engine. Oil shearing results in a lower viscosity, and excessive viscosity loss could impact the ability of the oil to protect vital engine parts. The new CK-4 standards call for improvements in shear stability versus CJ-4 oils. New, more stringent shear stability test limits are being developed to validate that each oil’s shear stability meets the new guidelines.

Oxidation stability

numbered test tubes

Oxidation is one of the primary causes of oil breakdown and is accelerated by higher operating temperatures. The next generation of engines are being designed to run hotter. So, CK-4 standards call for improved oxidation stability versus CJ-4 oils.

Aeration control

bubbling lab flask

The new CK-4 standards call for improvements in aeration control. Aeration is when the engine oil starts to develop tiny air bubbles, foam or both, which can impede the oil’s ability to protect the engine. To monitor the effectiveness of the new oils, they will have to pass a new aeration test called the Caterpillar Engine Oil Aeration test.

Senior male researcher carrying out scientific research in a lab

Why do we need a new oil standard?

Oil technology and engine technology go hand in hand. Changing regulatory limits challenge engine manufacturers to reduce emissions. As engine manufacturers begin to create a new generation of cleaner, more fuel-efficient diesel engines, they need a new generation of higher-performing diesel engine oils to protect them. And they need to know those oils will be available throughout the country to every diesel engine owner.

road with two heavy trucks coming

Going the distance

64 million km and counting

It is not enough to evaluate prototype oils in the laboratory: the real test is how they work in on- and off-road vehicles in the real world. Field trials are an integral part of the Shell engine oil technology development process. They are extensive programmes run in collaboration with customers and require scientific rigour, experience and expertise.

Shell performs millions of kilometres of real-world testing with customers. Between 2006 and 2015, Shell provided more than 270,000 litres of lubricants for use in customer field tests. A special focus has been placed on a subset of more than 50 engines, which have been thoroughly inspected. These engines received additional attention and were part of a teardown programme to inspect parts following significant distance accumulation.

shell rimula ck-4 oils

Shell Rimula R4 MV

Shell Rimula R4 MV has been specially designed for demanding applications in mining and quarrying