PQIA: Dont Buy Bullet

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The Petroleum Quality Institute of America warned consumers last week not to buy Bullet brand motor oil based on its potential to damage engines, leading its distributor RelaDyne to issue a recall.

PQIA, a consumer advocacy organization based in New Jersey, tests and reports on the quality of lubricants in the U.S. market. Its analysis of several bottles of Bullet Premium Motor Oil 5W-30 – purchased March 13 at a convenience store in Columbus, Ohio – revealed a viscosity that fell nearly 60 percent lower than the minimum requirements set for that grade by the American Petroleum Institute (API).

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On March 26, PQIA issued a dont buy consumer alert, warning that the oil contains neither detergents nor anti-wear additives, does not meet the standards setby the obsolete SC/CC engine oil category advertised on the bottles, and would likely result in damage to automobile engines.

Bullet Premium Motor Oil is distributed by one of the segments that make up RelaDyne: Oil Distributing Co., based in Cincinnati.

RelaDyne responded swiftly to PQIAs alert: We are very disappointed about the test results of the Bullet-branded motor oil. We have marketed this product for approximately 10 years with excellent quality and supply, RelaDyne Vice President of Sales and Marketing Dan Oehler told Lube Report. Upon learning of the issue in the marketplace, we have immediately identified the exact products affected, communicated to all associates and customers, and we have recalled each bottle in the market for product replacement or refund.

Oehler pointed out that RelaDyne bought and resold the defective product, but did not manufacture it, asserting that RelaDyne is taking every proactive measure possible to correct the issue. This product did not meet our specifications that we purchased, as it failed from a manufacturing perspective, Oehler said.

He identified Pride Industries and Cedar Enterprises, Inc. as two names used by the manufacturer and supplier of the defective oil, and said that RelaDynes relationship with these blenders has since been terminated. Furthermore, RelaDynes CEO Larry Stoddard said the manufacturer of the recalled product is no longer in business and we purchased product from them only for a very brief time.

In addition, a new supplier for Bullet has been manufacturing the product since the fall of 2012, Oehler said, but declined to provide the name of the current supplier.

Oehler noted that Bullet-branded oil is a value-lead product which the company does not advertise as meeting current API specifications. Instead, the bottles labels claim the product meets the standards of SC/CC, which the API designates as an obsolete specification that may cause equipment harm in automobile engines manufactured after 1967. PQIAs test results show that in the categories of viscosity and elemental additives such as calcium, phosphorus, and zinc, the oil fell significantly short of current recognized specs as well as the outdated SC/CC specs it claims.

Its disappointing to find a significant player not delivering the quality it promises, PQIAs President Thomas Glenn told Lube Report. Glenn said that PQIA was pleased to know RelaDyne took swift action to recall the defective motor oil, but that he is highly concerned about the contents of the recalled product. He was perplexed as to how production of the faulty batch was overlooked, emphasizing that there is no grey area in regard to the quality of the oil in question. It doesnt take testing to sense that something is wrong with this oil, Glenn said, noting as an example that the oil smelled like fuel, solvent or some other light hydrocarbon, and that the odor alone should have raised eyebrows.

Glenn suggests that RelaDyne not destroy the product, but rather quarantine it and test its composition, adding that the samples leave a number of questions as to what was in those bottles and whether it could have presented health and safety concerns for consumers.

PQIA will be conducting a more in-depth analysis on the product, Glenn said. He strongly advises Reladyne to do the same, and to notify and work with the state and federal agencies if some component of the product is found to be hazardous – to ensure that other products produced by this supplier are removed from the market as well.

Glenn went on to question the companys corrective actions, highlighting Stoddards response to PQIAs consumer alert, in which Stoddard asserted that RelaDyne is currently in the process of replacing [the recalled product] with product that meets the specifications as claimed on the packaging. Glenn views this as the company continuing to peddle obsolete engine oil.

He pointed out that replacing oil that failed to meet obsolete requirements with oil that does meet such requirements isnt enough for RelaDyne to ensure this brand of oil will not damage consumers engines, unless it identifies the obsolete specification on the label or markets the oil only to those who drive vehicles built before 1967.

RelaDyne announced that the recall includes 5W-20, 5W-30, 10W-30, and 10W-40 grades packaged in one-quart bottles, and estimated that the faulty yield of all four grades is isolated to fewer than 150 cases in the marketplace as of March 29. The company said it can identify the output of the defective batch down to the bottle level, based on the color of the caps, stating that the product involved in the recall is identified with red caps, and that bottles with black caps are not affected.

Glenn reported that yesterday, PQIAs team spot-checked convenience stores in the region in which the original sample was purchased, and was pleased to not find any bottles of recalled product still on the shelves.

RelaDyne, headquartered in Cincinnati, was formed in November 2010by the merger of four individual companies in the lubricant distributors: Mid-Town Petroleum Inc.(Ill.),Oil Distributing (Ohio),Hurt Co. Inc.(Texas), andPumpelly Oil Co.(La.). RelaDyne has acquired additional distributors since then.