Diesel Oil Upgrades Are on the Way

Engine tear-down 3[5] II

By Peter A. Hubbard

We recently had the chance to visit with Shell Oil engineers and the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio to find out about the upcoming federally mandated fuel economy and carbon dioxide regulations for commercial trucks and the resulting new oil technologies. These strict changes will require new types of oil for big and little diesel engines.

Four years ago a consortium of industry parties put together a committee that's sole purpose was to research and develop new categories and standards for the next generation of diesel lubricants to be marketed in North America known as Proposed Category 11, or PC-11. The committee consists of representatives from the American Petroleum Institute, the American Chemical Council, the Engine Manufacturers Association, the Society of Automotive Engineers and ASTM International.

The new lubricants are set to go on sale in the U.S. by October 2016, a little more than a year from now. Because of that, about 90 percent of the work being done by the fuels and lubrication group at the Southwest Research Institute is specifically focused on PC-11 research.

"All the major oil and lubrications firms worldwide have been working to develop and test new diesel engines oils, using the standards and protocols set up under the PC-11 development program," said Jim McCord, managing supervisor of heavy-duty engine testing. "Testing is also being done worldwide, including places in Europe, Asia and South America. Some is being done at private labs, but the majority of the testing is being done right here in Texas."

In addition to touring the Southwest Research Institute, we visited to a nearby Freightliner dealership, a portion of which had been turned into a diesel engine forensics lab. Inside we saw several truck engines that had been removed and disassembled in order to see how well the preproduction PC-11 motor oils held up during some punishing over-the-road testing. Engine tear downs were conducted by a team of Shell engineers to evaluate the wear patterns on a wide variety of engine parts to figure out just how well the new motor oils performed.

SWRI Testing 1[3] II

From all indications, Shell's products performed incredibly well.

"Consumers will be able to buy the same viscosity grades and oil types [conventional, full synthetic and synthetic blend] they use now, since they've been formulated to be completely 'backwards compatible' for use in all current vehicle engines," said Dan Arcy, Shell's chief engineer. "During fleet testing Shell recorded modest, but genuine, fuel economy gains, typically in the 1 to 2 percent range. This was especially true for trucks that switched from using conventional oil currently to a new PC-11A synthetic or synthetic blend."

"While that may not seem like much of an improvement, it saves the average commercial truck driver 200 gallons of fuel a year, or roughly $600," said Arcy, noting that single change alone could save the industry more than $3 million a day. "In addition to the fuel savings, it also means about 4,000 tons of CO2 will wind up being removed from the atmosphere each year, which is the equivalent of taking 23,000 big rigs off American roads."

Arcy suggested that for most light-duty diesel pickups the PC-11B oils will probably be more appropriate, coming later in 2017. However, both oils — PC-11A and PC-11B — are required to pass the same enhanced battery of engine protection tests and meet the same new standards.

According to McCord at Southwest Research Institute, the current PC-11 testing involves only heavy-duty truck engines in the 10.0- to 13.0-liter category. "But I'm certain that the next time the industry undertakes a similar revision in diesel lubricants, just three or four years from now, the smaller diesel engines under 7 liters, like the Ram Cummins, Ford's Power Stroke and GM's Duramax, will all be included," he said.

McCord acknowledged the fuel economy impact of PC-11 oils for diesel pickup owners will probably not be as great as it is for commercial trucks, since even heavy users drive only 30,000 to 40,000 miles a year rather than the 125,000 to 200,000 miles commonly logged by commercial truck drivers. However, he did point to some important "trickle-down" benefits from the testing.

"For the average diesel pickup owner this will translate into slightly better fuel economy over time and improved oxidation stability — meaning cleaner emissions, fewer engine deposits and less engine wear," McCord said. "These new oils will allow pickup owners to run their trucks for longer periods of time at higher temperatures with no danger of damage, and nearly double their oil change intervals from 5,000 miles to 10,000, depending on manufacturer recommendations. These trials prove the next generation of diesel oils will be especially beneficial for those towing large trailers, boats, campers or RVs on a regular basis."

For more information about the PC-11 testing program, click here.

Cars.com photos by Peter A. Hubbard


Engine tear-down 1[3] II

Shell PC11 photo II

SWRI Testing 2[5] II

SWRI - Engine Testing- Detroit Diesel[5] II

Shell PC11 photo 2 II




I love it, in one sentence you gripe about .gov regulations on what people drive and then in the next sentence you basically gripe that people have the free will to drive "show" trucks.

So basically... you want government regulation to tell other people what they can/can't do, just so long as they leave you alone? The hypocrisy of that is astounding.

World governments are Hypocrite and their leader is obamma greatest scammer ever.
Because you don't see it, they don't care, but 16 ships create as much pollution as all the cars in the world.
Unlike power stations or cars, they can burn the cheapest, filthiest, high-sulphur fuel: the thick residues left behind in refineries after the lighter liquids have been taken. The stuff nobody on land is allowed to use.
On top of that, all the garbage goes to the oceans, because nobody wants to pay for unloading.
He stopped Keystone pipeline, but he really doesn't care about any pollution.
This is scary, nobody talks about it and this article looks comically in relation to this.


You are quite correct regarding ships.

I also read that many nations are starting to tighten up on pollution from shipping.

Many of the older vehicles that are on our roads produce significant pollution.

In some cases one old vehicle can provide the pollution of hundreds of new vehicles.

I do believe in pollution controls as I remember when a kid cities like Tokyo, LA and even Sydney had heavily polluted air and the worst in the world.

It's good to live and dream in the past days of glory, but many seem to forget it really wasn't that good at times and we are so much better off now.

"Their is no beating the Ram 1500." ;-)


Get 50 HP, 111 lb-ft of torque, 4 pounds of boost, increased fuel economy, and decreased regen from a cooling running EcoDiesel

These newer oils are nice, but at what cost, especially if they are not really required.

Oil companies prey on those who think they are getting a far better product with the newer and improved oils.

These newer oils really don't give you a greater "bang for buck" ratio.

If you race or have a highly modified engine, then use an applicable oil to better manage the additional heat and stress.

Just use the oils recommended in your Owner's Manual. It will be a lot cheaper.

This is just another advertisement.











@Gomer - wow. A valid point. The problem with regulating ocean going vessels is for most of their journey they are in International waters. Another point is that many fly "flags of convenience". They pick countries with low/no tax and weak regulations.

The only way to 'clean" things up is through international agreement. People would complain if those WallMart made in China items cost an extra 10 cents an item.

There is more to this whole picture than meets they eye. It will be quick and to the point once it starts. most will not understand why. Once it starts it wont be able to be stopped. electric motors wont be needed!


Go live in China for a year. Then come back...and talk about Govt regulations!!?? Just another cry cry about Govt. Just another pre-programmed response from the Conservative Right wing fanatics.

I however am thankful for the EPA!! I love clean air, water, soil, etc.

New technologies? YES...I'm down with them.

"I however am thankful for the EPA!! I love clean air, water, soil, etc."

EPA Says It Released 3 Million Gallons Of Contaminated Water Into River


Gomer - you are real fond of Obama. Then you will be real impressed with Hillary and Justin. Actually Thomas sounds like the next leader of Canada.
Talk about a combo that will give right wingers chest pain.


I'll continue to run Amsoil in all my engines. It's probably already better than whatever this group will come up with.

Not sure I like this article.

Not being a chemist, let me try to say it this way. Motor oil (crankcase lube) must meet and fulfill a few key standards for modern internal combustion engines.

1. lubricate
2. stay in-grade (not get thinner or thicker than spec) over time
3. neutralize acids that form in the oil (maintain its PH) resulting from combustion biproducts
4. resist shear (last a long time)
5. resist the destabilizing effects of combustion heat
6. have sufficient detergent properties to keep the engine clean

It should also not cost an arm/leg to change the oil now and then. You notice I have not mentioned FE. Fuel economy is a very thin reason to select a particular oil, especially compared to any of the above reasons. When a comparison of oils in re: FE can only find a gain of 1% I begin to question their methodology.

and cooling is second to lubricating moving parts.

Let's do math,

2% fuel economy savings = $600 savings per year

average 200,000 miles per year, 10,000 mile oil change intervals = 20 oil changes.

40-50 quarts of oil per change (10-12 gallons of crankcase oil)

20 oil changes by 40 quarts per change = 800 quarts of oil


At a modest increase of only $1 per quart for these new formulations, the added cost would be $800 per year, subtract the $600 fuel savings, and the average truck operator LOSES $200 per year thanks to the new "miracle" oil.

Let's be realistic, if they've invested years and multiple labs across the globe designing and testing these new lubes, the increase will probably $2 or more per quart, making the losses per year STAGGERING

Ever think these guys need to get with their European counterparts and create an INTERNATIONAL standard? It would help things all around.

@Roadwhale, why not just maintain an American standard and let the rest of the world comply with ours? Whether you talk about the US currency, measurements or ideals, the world has always admired the way we do things.

Go to Europe during the last 60 years and the young people there wanted to be like us--Levi's jeans, hair styles, cars. Why do people like you seem so intent on changing that?

Fascinating Gomer. I knew ship emissions had to be bad but didn't realize they were that bad. I guess the counter point is the efficiency because of the magnitude of work such ships can accomplish. Damned if you do Damned if you don't really. Im sure its the same for aircraft and locomotives as well.

papa ajum,
The world only takes from a country what they want.

Look at food in the US and it's more particular it's language.

Language is a gauge of culture.

I think you'll find the US has taken and copied more from other nations than it has given.

Currency and fads have very little in common and are not connected. Currency is only popular due to economics, not fads. So, buying currency is like following the Rolling Stones?

@Papajim: "@Roadwhale, why not just maintain an American standard and let the rest of the world comply with ours? Whether you talk about the US currency, measurements or ideals, the world has always admired the way we do things."
Really? Are you THAT conceited? It is that very conceit which is why we are only tolerated in many countries and absolutely hated by others.

"Go to Europe during the last 60 years and the young people there wanted to be like us--Levi's jeans, hair styles, cars. Why do people like you seem so intent on changing that?"

I did. I spent two years in Germany with the USAF and discovered that once you get away from the area of the base, you're nothing but a tourist but even though the base brings in a lot of American dollars to the community, American conceit generates a lot of disgust. And that was a lot less than 60 years ago.

If something is going to work on a global scale, then it needs to be a global concept, not just an American one. You do realize that the US is one of the last countries in the world to adopt a universal form of measurement called the Metric System. Even our schools have been teaching metrics for over 40 years, yet the only place they are put to general use in the US is in the sciences. The US is FAR behind the rest of the world in too many places--especially education.


Is it conceited to be the best?

There is a pathetic "blame America" movement that we see poking its head up now and then and it sounds like you align yourself with it.

You mention Germany. They have been lost for decades. Once a leader in the world I can think of no area of business, culture or science where they are exceptional today.

Losing two major wars wipes out a couple of generations of its best young men and trillions of dollars in capital. Without America's help, Germany would have been sucked into the Soviet sphere back in the post war era and ended up with the depressing scene that swallowed Poland, Czechoslovakia, and Slovenia.

As it is, they have surrendered to every kind of kooky cultural slime imaginable since the 1970s and look pretty hopeless today. Hard to believe that you found their viewpoints or indictments compelling. Considering all of your verbal piddling over "smaller is better" on these commentaries, it sort of fits the rest of your notions.

papa jim,
Blame America?

I really don't think it is about blaming the US.

The US'es influence is great and when you do have a lot of sway in everything globally from economics to military/political will you will tend to be held to account.

There are people who blame the British, Germans, Chinese (just read some of the comments on this site), Japanese, even Australians.

As for the US culture, most of it is adapted Western Culture and ideals. When you get down to the nitty gritty of it all the US and again, even Australia are extensions with slight variations to the European Western Culture.

In Australia's, Canada's, New Zealand's and America's case we are more closely aligned to the British culture.

The US culture isn't that unique as you are making out.

Even here in Australia, like Canada and the US we have lots of pickups. We may argue and bicker over our pickups, but at the end of the day there isn't much in them.

Jeans? I'd bet the Japanese have made more money with electronics in the US than the US has made money out of jeans and the electronics have impacted our lives even more.

The world is global now and as each day passes it is globalizing even more. There is a blur developing between countries and cultures.

As I've mentioned in the past the US reached it's peak right up to the first energy crisis, after that it has been in decline. When I state decline I'm not using it as a negative measure, I'm stating the influence of the US is becoming more marginal as it's economic influence wanes.

It seems ecomomics is the driver of culture and politics.

Not jeans. Jeans are a measure of some influence, but that influence is hardly even measurable against the many great things the US has done in the past.

But that is the past, we will have to wait and see what the future holds.

@Big Al, this has wandered way off topic, but to offer a short answer to your reply is apropos.

Blame America?

The current occupant at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave spent a considerable amount of his first year in office traveling the globe to apologize for America's supposed transgressions. The Blame America attitude seems to be a job requirement for professors at America's colleges.

Yes, Al. Blame America is real

papa jim,
The US isn't the only country that gets the "blame".

It seems you are overplaying, or making a dramatic comment.

Everyone blames everyone else for their woes.

You do it, I do it, we all do it.

It's just the US is a very large influence. So, naturally blame is proportional.

In our region of the South Pacific, many of the island nations blame Australia, not the US.

The countries around China blame the Chinese.

The French colonies and ex colonies blame the French, the British the same.

The issue of Obama travelling around the world is insignificant and apologising. It only seems of relative importance to diehard GOP people.

Most of the world don't give a $hit what Obama is doing, that is nearly 7 billion people.

@Big Al, sometimes you devote whole paragraphs to say nothing. Case in point.

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