PC-11 Mythbusters: Get the facts on the new category

by on June 24, 2015 14 Comments


With the new PC-11 heavy duty motor oil (HDMO) category currently targeted for December 1, 2016, fleets must begin preparing for this critical change in technology. As fleet managers and executives plan their fleet’s strategy, we’ve seen a surge in questions from many of our customers, and wanted to help set the record straight. By getting the facts, you can get in front of the category update and make sure your fleet is ideally situated for 2016 – 2017. Time for some mythbusting!

MYTH: PC-11 is only for use in new model year engines and vehicles.

FACT: While PC-11 has been developed to target performance improvements in newer engines, many of these improvements are important to all engines, new and old alike.

In particular, the API CK-4 category will be backwards compatible, incorporating performance requirements from API CJ-4 while introducing new requirements for improved oxidation stability, aeration control and shear stability. API CK-4 oils will be offered in a variety of viscosity grades including the SAE 15W-40 and SAE 10W-30 grades that are most commonly used and recommended today.

PC-11 will also have a newer, lower viscosity subcategory, which will likely be called API FA-4. FA-4 will offer the same performance benefits as CK-4 but with the potential for improved fuel economy. This subcategory will not be backwards compatible.

As always, it’s important to consult with your engine OEM for specific guidance regarding the recommended viscosity grade for your engines, whether they’re brand new or older.

MYTH: PC-11 oils are just like API CJ-4 HDMOs, only thinner.

FACT: API CK-4 and API FA-4 will differ from each other in their allowable viscosity ranges. Oils meeting these new specifications will provide performance enhancements over API CJ-4 in oxidation stability, aeration control and shear stability, enabling your equipment to work harder and longer.

You’ll have the same range of choices of viscosity grade as you do today, in addition to new options that offer enhanced fuel economy.

MYTH: PC-11 HDMOs won’t offer the same protections for my emission control system.

FACT: API CJ-4 oils were introduced with emissions control system protection in mind. PC-11 will have the same limits on sulfur, phosphorus and sulfated ash content that engine makers have shown are critical to maximizing the life of emission systems.

Leading lubricants manufacturers are expected to continue to enhance cutting-edge HDMOs with each new category, further reducing the quantities of sulfur, phosphorus and sulfated ash while increasing performance benefits. Be on the lookout for news on these new advancements as the category nears.

MYTH: PC-11 is only for new on-road trucks, not off-highway equipment.

FACT: PC-11 will offer improvements to engine oil that are important for diesel engines of all types, even off-highway! With improved oxidation stability and shear stability, PC-11 oils will deliver new performance that is important to hard-working engines in the off-highway segment. Oils meeting this new category will be available in a variety of viscosity grades, including the conventional grades available today.

Be on the lookout for a future blog post on exactly what PC-11 means to the off-highway market.


In addition to understanding the new categories, understanding your fleet’s makeup is a critical first step for correctly applying PC-11 HDMOs. Working with your engine OEM and HDMO Supplier are also crucial to developing a technical understanding of PC-11, and to making the right choices for your fleet’s success.

Share your PC-11 questions in the comments and we can address them in a future blog post!

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About the Author ()

Shawn’s career spans nearly 20 years focused exclusively on research and engineering dealing with heavy-duty engine lubricants, fuels, and materials. Before joining Chevron in 2013, he spent 12 years leading global fluids and materials engineering activities for Cummins. He also spent five years conducting lubricant, fuel, and emission research for the Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, CO. At Chevron, he is a Senior Staff Engineer primarily responsible for product formulation of the Delo Brand of Heavy Duty Engine Oils. He is currently the lead formulator responsible for development of Chevron’s PC-11 product line upgrade. Whitacre is the new chairman of the ASTM Heavy-Duty Engine Oil Classification Panel, which is tasked with the final development of the Proposed Category 11 (PC-11) requirements that take effect in late 2016.

Comments (14)

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  1. tjoutfielder@gmail.com' Trent Jarvis says:

    I’ve been a long time delo 15-40w user in my 1998 Powerstroke and the motor has 400+ thousand miles on it. How will the PC-11 oil benefit my motor? Is there anything I should do to prepare for the new oil type?

    • contact@chevronlubematters.com' Chevron Lube Matters says:

      Thanks for being a loyal Delo customer. SAE 15W-40 PC-11 oils are fully backward compatible and will be able to be used in your 1998 Powerstroke just like the product you use today. The PC-11 oil will provide all of the wear protection that you’ve come to expect from Chevron, and will be engineered to withstand even higher operating temperatures when your engine demands it!

  2. Cdluncefordllc@yahoo.com' Chris lunceford says:

    I would like all the info on this and other products coming out.

  3. hhow55@yahoo.com' HOMER says:


  4. Shawn Whitacre says:

    You are correct that there are now limits for the amount of sulfur, phosphorus, and ash that can be used in heavy-duty motor oils. In fact, those limits were put in place nearly 10 years ago and this will not change with API CK-4/FA-4. We absolutely agree that engine protection is the top priority and proved with our API CJ-4 lineup that very high performing oils can be formulated by using the right balance of these additives. The stakes get even higher with API CK-4, which will require passing 9 different fired engine tests, while still respecting the existing chemical limits meant to protect exhaust after treatment systems!

    • clutchclark@gmail.com' Clutch says:

      So you are saying that the amount of sulfur, phosphorous and ash levels in the CK-4 are identical to what is found in CJ-4 diesel oil products?

      That is contrary to what I have read elsewhere.

      Thank you

      • Shawn Whitacre says:

        HI Clutch.Yes, it is correct that the limits for sulfated ash, phosphorus, and sulfur (Sometimes referred to as “SAPS”) remained the same for API CK-4 and FA-4 as they were for API CJ-4. Sulfated ash is still limited to 1.0% (max), phosphorus to 0.12% (max), and sulfur to 0.4% (max).

        • Clutchclark@gmail.com' Clutch says:

          Thankyou Shawn.

          I just used Chevron Delo 400SE 5W-40 in my 7.3 Powerstroke.

          I purchased the gallon jugs at WalMart and they had no mention of CK-4/SN.

          The starburst had only as recent as CJ-4/SM.

          Is there any chance this is the formulation still packaged in old jugs?

  5. Clutchclark@gmail.com' Clutch says:


    Any chance this is the formulation in old jugs?

    • Shawn Whitacre says:

      Hi Clutch, thanks for your business! Chevron Delo 400 LE Synthetic SAE 5W-40 is still an API CJ-4/SM product and is acceptable for use in your 7.3L Powerstroke engine. We’ll be upgrading our SAE 5W-40 full synthetic offering later this year to meet the requirements of API CK-4/SN.

      • Clutchclark@gmail.com' Clutch says:

        Thank you for this information.

        The DELO 400 SE 5W-40 currently has an excellent TBN with high percentages in Zinc & Phosphorous and even Ash.

        I hope Chvron chooses to keep those high values when they release CK-4 for all of us Powerstroke owners 😉

  6. deltawng@aol.com' JustJ says:

    From what I’ve read, just stay away from any universal CK-4/SN 5w-30 and CK-4/SN 10w-30 oils. Those, under the new standards, are only allowed 800ppm max phosphate. Not enough phos for a diesel if you want it to last. However, the CK-4/SN 15w-40 is allowed the same as a true CK-4, which is >1000ppm phos and us diesel owners will be fine. Article here: http://viewer.zmags.com/publication/b9b7ff6b#/b9b7ff6b/16

  7. Shawn Whitacre says:

    The true anti-wear performance of a diesel engine oil is gauged by testing, not by phosphorus content. Zinc and phosphorus levels are a measure of the amount of zinc di-alkyl di-thiophosphate (ZDDP) additive in an oil. It is used, along with other non-Zn/P containing additives to provide the wear control and protection from heat that the new standards require. API CK-4 products, regardless of P content, have undergone a rigorous laboratory testing program to evaluate their wear control performance. Engine oils that comply with the OEM specs issued by companies like Detroit Diesel and Cummins are held to an even tougher standard with more stringent limits and additional wear testing requirements. These performance tests, along with millions of miles of field testing experience in Class 8 trucks, waste haulers, farm equipment (including Ford trucks), and construction equipment have further validated the robust wear protection of these new products.


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