Why Does Driven Not Sell API-Licensed Products?

Why does an oil that appears to be superior to “off-the-shelf” products not meet industry standards such as API SN or GM’s dexos 1? Quite simply, Driven Racing Oil products exceed these standards.

The reality of modern “off-the-shelf” lubricants can be summarized in one word – compromise. In order to meet the lowest common denominator standards for emissions systems protection, the chemical makeup of modern API-licensed motor oils have been compromised. The evidence of that comprise is in flattened flat tappet camshafts, galled pushrod tips, worn distributor gears, failed rocker arms and destroyed roller lifters. All of these failures are partially due to the changes in motor oil – less ZDDP and more additives that compete against the ZDDP.

15 years ago, NASCAR teams used motor oil right off the shelf from the parts store. I worked for a championship-winning NASCAR team, and I actually purchased oil right off the shelf to put in our engine to run the Daytona 500. Everything ran great that day, but just a few years later, we could not do that anymore. Why? The ZDDP levels had been reduced in an effort to help with emissions equipment life, and the result was a flat camshaft if you put that oil in a NASCAR engine. That is why Joe Gibbs Racing created the Driven brand racing oil – to have a product exempt from the changes enforced by the API.

While these changes have been beneficial for stock production engines and their emissions equipment, these changes have been devastating for high performance engines. Here is why:

More aggressive cam profiles require a faster response from the ZDDP in the motor oil. The faster the cam tries to open the valve, the more the ZDDP has to respond to prevent wear. The type of ZDDP matters when it comes to protecting camshafts.

Type of ZDDP you ask? Aren’t all ZDDPs the same?

The answer is actually no. Many different types of ZDDP anti-wear additives exist. One of the main differences is in the activation rate – or how quickly the ZDDP responds.

Stock lift, duration and spring pressure valve trains don’t need a ZDDP that responds quickly because the loads are low. As a result, these engines can utilize a less active ZDDP in order to provide better catalytic converter protection (less active ZDDPs are friendlier to catalytic converters).

These mild valve trains in stock engines allowed oil engineers to reduce the amount of ZDDP and move to less active ZDDPs in order to extend catalytic converter life from 80,000 miles to 120,000 miles.

But what happens when you swap cams and add spring pressure to your production-based engine? Did that list of common failures at the beginning of this piece seem familiar? Any increase in spring pressure and cam profile should be accompanied by an increase in the amount and activity of ZDDP in the motor oil.

That is why Driven has introduced oils like the high-Zinc HR4 and LS30. Both old school small blocks and modern LS engines need fast acting ZDDP, and a lot of it, when you start going up on lift, duration and spring pressure. Driven offers oils that are properly balanced to protect these high performance engines.

Our experience in NASCAR taught us the importance of balance. You must have the proper balance on the handling of the car to win, and you must have the proper balance of the oil additives to keep your engine running strong. The additive balance for a passenger car is very different from the additive balance for a NASCAR engine, and that is why NASCAR engines don’t use passenger car motor oils.  It’s also why our racing and high performance oils don’t have API approvals – Driven motor oils have the right balance for high performance and racing engines.