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I'm curious as to what the opinions are to this test having any relevance to actual engine wear? The opinions I've received from Mobil, Redline, Castrol, Havoline and BITOG is that it's a very misleading test that has no correlation to actual engine wear. For one, it's mainly for grease. The other issue I have with it is, according to Redline, their are many additives that you could add to an oil that would produce a great wear scar, but, would do nothing for your engine. So why spend the money on these additives? That was RL's take on it. It must fool alot of people though. However, I often wonder why other companies don't go after Amsoil on this test. Mobil claims it's an inexpensive test that has no significance at all.
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Originally posted by Buster:
Must be alot of Amsoil dealers on this board. No one wants to comment on the 4-Ball wear propaganda? C'mon, it's not like we are talking about AJ's Vitamin line, that exceeds Centrum's 4-Ball stomach wear test. Big Grin

Although I don't have to hide that I'm a fan of AJ in many respects but this has me LOL because I have such a vivid imagination Big Grin

On the serious side, are there not a long list of ASTM and other criteria tests that have to be met or exceeded to pass certain categories? (Rhetorical of course)
There are many test procedures in the ASTM bag of tricks. They are all revelent to the material they were designed to test. A lot of these procedures have been superceded by new procedures. The Timken test is a prime example of a test pionered by a major company that bears no informatin that to-day can be used by the consumer of the products quoting that test spec. It is relevent but not the complete story on the anti ware qualities of the material being tested. Test your knowledge of the capibilities of various lubricants both oils and grease by looking at the original OPTIMOL SRV test equipment. This is used world wide but seldom quoted.
Lab tests lab tests lab tests. Most of these ATSM tests for API/ACEA benchmarks are simply 'bare minimum' standards (which equats to f'all really). I'd like to see the comparisons - what was the actual result in units of measurement (not a yep you've passed jobby) and how does that compare to other products?
Surely then its alot easier for consumers to decide which oils give the desired level of protection.
At least then on paper you can compare apples with apples.
A data sheet shouldn't be hard to get. I just saw a selection of them but you would like it. Comparisons charts could be interpreted as being biased depending who's it is and who's reading it.

Continuing on the "ASTM" and other tests, it should kept in mind that many tests cover many catagories and just "4-ball" is rather useless. I could give you a URL but you might use him instead of me to get it.
Motor Oil Four Ball Wear Test (ASTM-4172)is what this test is about. API, to mention only one, has a list of test areas that are used to compare subject products:
Seven American Petrolium Instutute (API) tests were run on the motor oils. The Thin-Film Oxygen Uptake Test (TFOUT) measures the oxidation stability of engine oils. The High Temperature/High Shear Test (HTHS) measures a lubricant’s viscosity under severe operating conditions. The NOACK Volatility Test measures the evaporation loss of oils in high temperature service. Pour Point indicates the lowest temperature at which a fluid will flow. Total Base Number (TBN) is the measurement of a lubricant’s reserve alkalinity for combating acids. The Cold Cranking Simulator Test (CCS) measures a lubricant’s viscosity at low temperatures and high shear rates. The Four-Ball Wear Test measures a lubricant’s wear protection properties. The impressive test results show AMSOIL Synthetic 10W-30 Motor Oil outperformed the competitors in each test."

But who am I to "educate" somone who is appearantly well educated. A quote I've seen somewhere from a reliable source would apply here, in words to the effect that "...there is a time to be silent and there is a time to speak."
What is this?

D4172-94(2004) Standard Test Method for Wear Preventive Characteristics of Lubricating Fluid (Four-Ball Method)
Developed by Subcommittee: D02.L0.11
See Related Work by this Subcommittee
Adoptions: DOD Adopted; ANSI Approved
Book of Standards Volume: 05.02

1. Scope

1.1 This test method covers a procedure for making a preliminary evaluation of the anti-wear properties of fluid lubricants in sliding contact by means of the Four-Ball Wear Test Machine. Evaluation of lubricating grease using the same machine is detailed in Test Method D2266.

1.2 The values stated in SI units are to be regarded as the standard. The values given in parentheses are for information only.

1.3 This standard does not purport to address all of the safety concerns, if any, associated with its use. It is the responsibility of the user of this standard to establish appropriate safety and health practices and determine the applicability of regulatory limitations prior to use.

2. Referenced Documents

D2266 Test Method for Wear Preventive Characteristics of Lubricating Grease (Four-Ball Method)
B3.12 Specification for Metal Balls
Why is so necessary to exclusively connect Amsoil (in a bad way) with Four Ball Test. Take a look at: Mobil data and (suddenly) all of us will reveal that (even) so well known Mobil use that test. (I am still browsing and there will be more manufacturers and related facts).
So, let's (all of Mobil users) turn back to Mobil. Immediately!

All of us, in final stage (after exploring documentation, checking testimonials and discussion if it's possible) use non (far of, actually) standardized "personal" methods to evaluate products. They are mainly based on very subjective "principles" (sounds, hearing, seeing, feeling, sniffing, ...) and achieved results are determinants for accepting or rejecting. That "method" is better than any of standardized?

So what would be customer's loss of having results of one more (standardized, in contrast) test even if it is not explicitly related to that product?

Even if that test is exclusively made for greases it would be somewhat plausible. If we simplify things: grease is synthetic oil with thickener!
Last edited by djordan
Djordan, with all due respect I think your missing the point. Shell, Mobil and every other major oil blender are well aware of the 4-Ball wear test. What they are saying, and this includes Redline, is that this particular test has ZERO relevence to what goes on inside an engine. That is why no one else uses it. It's more of a grease test.

Redline's tech department told me that the test shows varied results and that you could simply add certain additives to make it perform well on this test, but they felt bc it was of zero use in a real world engine, they would spend th money elsewhere. So basically Amsoil is taking one test, which has shown over and over again to not be important at all in real world engine testing, and is using it as a marketing tactic. Shampoo, coca cola are just two things that show very low wear scars but are horrible lubricants. It's a sales tactic that when people see, are getting fooled into believing their oils will protect better when that is simply not the case.
Djordan, you listed examples where 4 ball wear test were conducted with gear oils, hydraulic fluids as well as compressor oils. None of your examples were an engine oil being tested.

Amsoil makes a good engine lube.. but the dubious and selective use of this test raises questions of integrity of the marketer that any objective informed observer can pick up on. I would not hesitate to use the product but the 4 ball wear test has little to do with that decision.
Well, I suppose that I am misunderstood.
I didn't try exactly to defend Amsoil's testing policy. Just wanted to show that ASTM D 4172 testing method is appropriate for oils (too) what is different opinion than of some "speakers" (not only from this thread). Results shouldn't be the most important ones (definitely) but why not to be included in oil technical data list as one (more) index of anti-wear characteristics. Particularly if it is comparative oil test.
If that method is exclusively designated for greases and (other than Amsoil) manufacturers are well aware of that fact they (strictly) shouldn't test any oil if they still want to be counted as prestigious company.

Let me to ask something: why would be that test method good for (Chevron) compressor oils and unthinkable for motor oils? Working conditions are different but there are some similarities such as: fast moving parts, tight tolerances, raised temperatures, oxygenation, ..., friction, wear, oil degradation,...

I wouldn't speculate now about tampered test results because it will completely change point of this (and some others) thread. We shouldn't start discussion about who is posting false results, who not because all of oil manufacturers are able to do it. What would be our qualifiers to determine that company X is prone to post false results while company Y is not?

Completely agreeable are posts about different marketing tactics. All manufacturers have some "jewels". Castrol with "full synthetic" Syntec which actually is not synthetic, Mobil with being "the first major oil company to introduce a line of high-endurance motor oils designed for longer oil change intervals" (up to whole 15.000 miles!), Pennzoil with full synthetic oil made of petroleum oil and just few drops of (synthetic lubricant) pennzane in a bottle, ...

What would be worse hoax - posting an achieved real results of (let's say inappropriate) testing at first place of some advertising campaign or deceive customers with completely false statement?
Last edited by djordan
Originally posted by Rudy Hiebert:

Are you asking why parts of the test are different for these two examples you highlight? If the lab has these two options for this catagory, I would suggest it's not Amsoil's choice.

Hi Rudy . Since Amsoil does these bench tests in-house I would assume it is indeed , Amsoils choice .

Amsoil owns their lab , correct ?
IMHO I would perfer a low scar diameter "oil" over a higher one BUT if the difference is only 5-7% I would call both oils even.

That said in a IC engine the closest you can get to a 4 ball test regime would be the cam lifter noise and cam drive gear.

Bye the way the most common test for a 4 ball rig is EP gear oil.

So the test as related to a IC is OK but not a big deal I would perfer a Camshaft lobe wear test of which ASTM has one.

I suspect Amsoil happens to have a 4 ball test machine and has decided to use it, I do not blame them but it just does not apply to well.
Tests are done on products to satisfy customers of its performance. A customer can choose between two products if, and only if, the same tests are carried on the two products.

It is against this background that ISO, ASTM, IP etc., tests may have evolved. In short, a uniform or standard test adopting uniform or standard procedure for testing and delivering the same result would be termed consistent. It would be grossly unfair to the customer if results ( for any two products) are given where parameters (for testing) are different from the standard procedure.

Innovation, or tailor made tests, are a good practice. But this has to be as an "add-on" and revealed with an analysis and an appropriate conclusion. This would be fair to the custmer.

Thus, with relevance to the topic "4-ball Wear Test - Slick Marketing," if the Amsoil product meets the above criterion then it has been fair to its existing customers and potential customers.

I invite the readers to debate on this.

M Hussam Adeni
Originally posted by Rudy Hiebert:
"...Amsoil owns their lab , correct?"
...If it's Oil Analyzers Inc. you're thinking of, yes I'm sure you're right but for these spec tests to meet industry standards, wouldn't API etc. who do tests for the whole enchilada do them?

Those two oils are not API certified . None of the Amsoils are except for the group III's and 15w-40 as far as being submitted , liscenses paid , API donut of the containers last I saw .

Rudy , your an Amsoil dealer correct ? Did you not know that Amsoil does not submit but a few of their oils to the API ?
Did you not know that Amsoil does not submit but a few of their oils to the API ?

You're inadvertently or at a purpose misinformed about Amsoil's API certification. Just a few of the oils aren't API certified! You're going to ask now - why! Answer is: isn't it much better (and useful for customers, too) to spend $300.000 (or more!) a year for each oil type on to research or upgrades than for useless certification. Why useless? Wouldn't you call it exactly same if you had to yearly renew your high (or even primary) school diploma despite having been an (experienced) engineer (at least!) holding a bachelor's degree (or higher).
Originally posted by Djordan:
Did you not know that Amsoil does not submit but a few of their oils to the API ?

(Knowing or not knowing what a company does or doesn't do in this instant is a non-issue for me in this topic.) If it's important to you, go for it.)

You're inadvertently or at a purpose misinformed about Amsoil's API certification. Just a few of the oils aren't API certified! You're going to ask now - why! Answer is: isn't it much better (and useful for customers, too) to spend $300,000 (or more!) a year for each oil type on to research or upgrades than for useless certification. Why useless? Wouldn't you call it exactly same if you had to yearly renew your high (or even primary) school diploma despite having been an (experienced) engineer (at least!) holding a bachelor's degree (or higher).

A non-Amsoil, industry publication writes, "Instead, the consumer is fed baloney such as "tough anti-wear protection, fights volatility burn-off, protection against corrosion and high temperature" and similiar technobable. (Duh, isn't that the bare minimum one should expect today from an engine oil? Isn't that what the API starburst logo means?"
API is only a part of the big picture.
Originally posted by Lube MATE:

4 ball test is more applicable for greases and gear oils.

I agree as have some other posters previous to this .
The line of posting got off the original topic when the API was brought into the conversation .

I am not certain paying for the API donut to be placed on a bottle of oil guarantee's the best oil formula / protection /performance available anyway .
Mr. Rudy Heibert wrote:
... isn't that the bare minimum one should expect today from an engine oil? Isn't that what the API starburst logo means?"
API is only a part of the big picture.

I can (partially) agree with you! But, if you’re really skeptic about Amsoil's quality because of not having API donut as (bare) minimum - do not use it! There is a lot other good synthetic (or even petroleum) products which do not guarantee you 7500, 25000 or 35000 miles drain period, however. Even Wal-Mart oils have the donut! So, choice is up to you.

Not mentioning to customers that they can extend drain periods with synthetics, maybe, is more honest approach? Perhaps Castrol's approach with fooling customers and having the donut is more appropriate? Being a huge company they allowed themselves to do what they want. Money does everything! Who cares about quality and customers?

the four ball test was originally developed by Shell as a simple screening test as a indication of the anti-wear behaviour of a lubricant formulation in a laboratory setting. it was regarded as a suitable test by other lubricant formulators and subsequently, after due screening, it was added to the portfolio of tests of ASTM, DIN and other standardising bodies.

It can discern quite well between oils and greases with or without EP additive and between the effects of various amounts or types of EP additive in a grease or oil and therefore is a often used test during development.

however, the conditions of the test are such that the test is not very useful in engine oil testing, since those do not contain EP additives and the conditions envisaged in the test are such that they never occur during engine lubrication.



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