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What is the Noack Volatility Test?

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Your Oil-Life Monitoring System Is Not An On-Board Chemist

Oil-Life Monitoring Systems Do Not Actually Measure The Properties Of Motor Oil.

Dan Peterson, Vice President, AMSOIL Technical Development

Dan Peterson
Vice President,
Technical Development

Oil-life monitoring systems (OLMS) have become more common in the last decade. The goal of an OLMS is to increase engine oil drain intervals without risk to the key components the oil is lubricating, which is similar to one of the main goals of used-oil analysis. But that's where the similarities end - with the objective. Since most new cars come equipped with some type of OLMS that can directly contradict AMSOIL-warranted extended drain interval recommendations, I want to go over how the systems are designed, how they function and what you need to know when it comes to extending oil drain intervals.

Actually, oil-life monitor is a poor description for these systems. A better name would be oil life estimator. These systems do not monitor any direct physical or chemical property of used oil; they only accumulate operational data from the car's computer and attempt to predict how your driving habits have impacted the motor oil's viscosity, total base number (a measure of remaining detergency) and oxidation level. Since these key properties are not actually measured by an OLMS, how can it know when there's only 10 percent life left on an oil? It can't. An OLMS provides a gross estimate of oil life based on a mathematical model developed using a specific type of oil.

An OLMS takes no direct measurement of oil viscosity, which is critical in estimating oil life, nor does it measure TBN to gauge how much detergent is left to fight acidic combustion byproducts. There also is no on-board $50,000 gauge to measure the oxidation level of the oil. If your OLMS actually monitored the properties of your oil, you would not be able to simply press a couple buttons and reset your OLMS to 100 percent oil life. If you are from Missouri and need to test this fact, try it before your next oil change.

So is your OLMS useless? Not exactly. These systems are getting better and do a decent job of convincing drivers to extend oil drain intervals, helping to break the outdated and wasteful practice of changing oil every 3,000 miles. But an OLMS cannot tell the difference between a high-quality synthetic oil and a run-of-the-mill conventional oil.

The first oil monitors were mileage based and provided outdated mileage options such as 3,000 or 5,000 miles. Some cars are still equipped with these mileage-based indicators.

Algorithm-based monitoring systems are engineered with an understanding of how temperature and load affect oil integrity; extreme temperatures and engine load are known to shorten oil life. For example, the GM OLMS penalizes estimated oil life when the engine is driven in very cold conditions or when the engine is extremely hot.

GM claims most drivers will be able to achieve between 7,500- and 8,500- mile intervals; however, some drivers could see longer intervals if their driving conditions permit. GM says the GM OLMS automatically adjusts the interval based on engine characteristics, driving habits and climate. GM also claims the use of synthetic oil does not extend drain intervals, but does acknowledge using synthetic motor oil may provide some benefits.

Many Ford/Lincoln/Mercury vehicles use an algorithm-based system called the Intelligent Oil-Life Monitor (IOLM). Ford claims the IOLM can provide oil drain intervals of up to 10,000 miles, depending on driving conditions. The Ford IOLM monitors driving conditions such as engine speed and load, oil and coolant temperature, hours of op-eration, hours of idle time and the cleaning cycle for diesel particulate filters, if equipped. Ford engines are tested using Motorcraft synthetic-blend oils. The IOLM algorithm is entirely software-based, meaning it does not monitor the oil's direct chemical or physical quality. Other Ford vehicles are equipped with a system that does not gather operating data to calculate oil life; it simply signals an oil change is necessary every 10,000 miles or one year.

Despite the technological advances and sophistication of the newer on-board oil-monitoring sytems, they are still a predictive model and cannot directly measure key used oil properties nor differentiate between a high-end synthetic motor oil and an entry-level conventional product. AMSOIL developed Signature Series Synthetic Motor Oil and confirmed Its performance in field trials with used-oil analysis. We used vehicles from several different manufacturers and ran them in the harshest environments we could find; all so you can sleep well at night when your OLMS says you need an oil change and you don't plan on doing so until next spring. Published, AMSOIL Magazine 10/11.

AMSOIL Signature Series Synthetic Motor Oil

AMSOIL Signature Series Synthetic Motor Oil

AMSOIL Signature Series Synthetic Motor Oils are formulated to meet the latest API SN Resource Conserving and ILSAC GF-5 industry specifications. AMSOIL Signature Series Oils include 0W-20, 0W-30, 5W-30 and 10W-30 and represent the very best motor oils AMSOIL has to offer, allowing motorists to take advantage of maximum extended drain intervals. AMSOIL Signature Series Synthetic Motor Oils are recommended for drain intervals of up to 25,000 miles/one year, whichever comes first (15,000 miles/one year in severe service conditions).

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Premium AMSOIL Synthetic Motor Oils offer the longest drain intervals on the market, unsurpassed protection and performance that effectively extends equipment life and improved fuel economy, saving customers money at the pump and reducing the nation's dependence on foreign oil.



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AMSOIL Synthetic Diesel Oil Articles and Testimonials

"AMSOIL INC. warrants that the use of its lubricants will not cause mechanical damage to any mechanically sound equipment when AMSOIL INC. products are used in full compliance with the company's recommendations and instructions."


AMSOIL synthetic motor oils are formulated to surpass engine test specifications, offering protection far greater than competing motor oils for extended drain intervals. Most synthetic oil manufacturers make no claim to extended drain intervals, deferring to the maintenance schedule provided by the vehicle manufacturer. With its unparalleled oil and warranty program, AMSOIL offers consumers unprecedented protection and economics.

Another AMSOIL First

More than 20 years ago, AMSOIL began using the NOACK volatility test as a comparison tool and measurement of quality. Back then, nearly every oil tested side-by-side with AMSOIL synthetic motor oils failed, and those that passed barely squeaked by. Other oil companies paid no attention to NOACK results until Ford Motor Company made it a requirement for service fill oils, validating what AMSOIL had said all along.

THE NOACK Volatility Test
The NOACK Volatility Test determines the evaporation loss of lubricants in high temperature service. The more motor oils vaporize, the thicker and heavier they become, contributing to poor circulation, reduced fuel economy and increased oil consumption, wear and emissions. AMSOIL Synthetic Motor Oil resists high temperature volatization better than other motor oils. AMSOIL Synthetic Motor Oil maintains peak fuel efficiency and reduces oil consumption and emissions.

AMSOIL Now An ISO Certified Manufacturer
AMSOIL recently received ISO 9001:2000 certification of our Quality Management System (QMS). NSF International Strategic Registrations is the registrar that has verified our QMS meets the requirements of the ISO 9001:2000 standard, the most widely utilized quality standard throughout the world for quality management systems. ISO standards are used by over 300,000 companies worldwide setting rigorous standards for businesses, government and industry.

ISO 9001:2000 is applicable to any manufacturing and service organization providing a framework for system development that focuses on the customer, quality system performance and ongoing improvement. AMSOIL received ISO 9001:2000 registration under the scope: synthetic lubricants blending, packaging, and other fulfillment directly associated with lubricant product.

The ISO certification puts AMSOIL in line with some of the most efficient companies in the world. It is further assurance that the products and services AMSOIL provides will continue to maintain the high level of quality the company always demanded.

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