Skip to main content
Skip to page content

Explain the terms on the oil bottles such as API SM/CF

“What exactly does API SM/CF and SL, SJ, SH, SG mean on the oil bottle?”

Don Haislip, Oak Grove, Missouri


API stands for American Petroleum Institute. In this case, API sets industry standards for passenger and commercial vehicles. These standards are recognized, and in many cases, developed in conjunction with car and lubricant manufacturers, including ExxonMobil. The letters next to API, such as SM, refer to the quality level of passenger vehicle motor oil. The current highest available standard is SN. CF is a diesel engine or commercial vehicle standard and the highest current one is CJ-4. More information is available at the API website:

Go back to all questions
Energy lives here