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To create a global standard for engine oils, a joint effort was made by the Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association (JAMA) and the American Automobile Manufacturers Association (AAMA), which consisted of representation from DaimlerChrysler Corp., Ford Motor Co. and General Motors.

The International Lubricant Standardization and Approval Committee (ILSAC), partnering with the API, ASTM and SAE, developed the Engine Oil Licensing and Certification System. Now, when you look at a bottle of motor oil and see that starburst symbol or the API service symbol (the donut), you know that bottle of oil has been formulated, tested and approved by your vehicle’s manufacturer.

As fuel-economy standards change and new technologies and engine metallurgy are introduced, the classifications for engine oils must also change. With this in mind, it is important to read the labels on the oils you buy for your vehicles.

The latest API service classification standard for gasoline engines is SN or SN Plus. For four-stroke road vehicles running on diesel engine oil, the most current category is CK-4. For low-sulfur diesel engines manufactured in 2017 or later, you may need an engine oil classified as FA-4. This classification indicates that these oils have been specifically formulated to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

These new motor oil classifications are backward compatible, so using a newer category oil on an older vehicle should not create any issues. Yet, what can cause problems is operating a newer vehicle with an older service category engine oil.

It is always best to check your owner’s manual and follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for your vehicle. Using a high-mileage oil in a new vehicle would be ill-advised, since no manufacturer recommends this type of oil for a new vehicle.

Would it harm your engine? Most likely not, but it would be better to adhere to what is specified in the owner’s manual, at least until the warranty has expired.


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