ExxonMobil Guarantees 20,000-mile Oil Drains

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In what could be another step in the march toward longer drain intervals, ExxonMobil on Friday announced a new engine oil that guarantees against engine damage for intervals of one year or 20,000 miles.

The company and others in the industry said the launch of Mobil 1 Annual Protection reflects the continuing push for longer intervals by consumers and automakers. But at least one analyst expressed doubts that motorists are ready to go that long between oil changes.

This is certainly interesting, but I would say it is part of a trend in the industry rather than a departure, said George Morvey, industry leader for the Energy Practice of Kline & Co. consultancy. Most OEMs now recommend longer drain intervals even on mass market cars, and a lot of them are going with oil life monitoring systems that indicate when oil needs to be changed based on operating conditions.

Over the years some lubricant marketers have resisted pushes for longer drain intervals, which threaten to cut into sales volumes, though companies generally charge more for products that last longer.

Mobil 1 Annual Protection is not the first passenger car engine oil to come with an engine warranty, but its the longest interval offered by main lubricant marketers. According to ExxonMobils website, the warranty covers critical engine parts lubricated by the engine oil. Motorists filing a claim must provide service records and allow ExxonMobil to draw an oil sample for analysis to determine the cause of the engine failure.

ExxonMobil does advise motorists to change their vehicles oil at intervals recommended by their owners manual or oil life monitor as long as the vehicle is under warranty. The guarantee only applies to customers who also use Mobil 1 Extended Performance oil filters and does not apply to vehicles used for racing or commercial applications including taxis; frequent towing or hauling; in extremely dusty or dirty conditions; or that are excessively idled.

Larry Solomon, president of consulting firm Strategic Resources Inc., predicted that ExxonMobil will have difficulty selling such long intervals to large segments of motoring consumers.

First you have your do-it-yourselfers, Solomon told a reporter, referring to motorists who change their own oil. Theyre going to question this because they are dedicated to their vehicles and they are not going to want to risk them to switch to an annual oil change. Then on the services side [consisting of individuals who pay professional installers to change their oil], car dealers and oil quick lubes are going to discourage customers from using this oil because it could cut down on the number of times they see their customers.

Solomon and Morvey speculated that ExxonMobil may not actually be banking on customers going a year between oil changes.

Maybe theyre just trying to convince people that their product is better than the one next to it on the shelf, Morvey said.

The new Mobil 1 products – available in SAE 0W-20, 5W-20 and 5W-30 multigrades – dont carry the longest guarantee in the industry. Amsoil, which is based in Superior, Wisconsin, based its business on long-drain engine oils and has offered a 25,000-mile engine guarantee for years. ExxonMobil has over the years offered products with guarantees for 5,000 and 7,500 miles and currently offers a 15,000-mile guarantee on Mobil 1 Extended Performance.

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