Michigan Yanks Substandard Lubes


A Michigan agency on Sept. 12 announced stop-use and stop-removal orders for motor oils and transmission fluids from City Petroleum of Dearborn and Star Petroleum of Detroit.

The stop-use and stop-removal orders prohibit the sale, offering for sale, or use of motor oils or transmission fluids manufactured, packaged, and/or distributed by City Petroleum (doing business as City Star) and/or Star Petroleum, the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development said in a Sept. 12 news release.

Get alerts when new Sustainability Blog articles are available.


These products should no longer be used, immediately be removed from store shelves or other product displays, and no longer be offered for sale. These products may cause damage to vehicle engines, the department stated.

After a presentation on problem oils at a weights and measures conference, staff began to sample the Michigan market, department spokeswoman Jennifer Holton told Lube Report.

The agency said that as part of an 11 month investigation, it discovered the motor oil and transmission fluids sold by the companies dont contain the amount of product claimed. In addition, the agency noted that the motor oil doesnt meet the viscosity labeled on the containers. For example, a container may say the product is an SAE 5W30 motor oil, but doesnt meet that viscosity or other specifications for a motor oil.

According to photos of the products bottles posted at the agencys site, the City Petroleum 5W-30, 10W-30 and 10W-40 grades are labeled as SA products, while the equivalent Star Petroleum grades are labeled as SB products.

Both categories are obsolete, according to the American Petroleum Institute. An SA engine oil contains no additives and isnt suitable for use in gasoline-powered automotive engines built after 1930, while SB isnt suitable for use in such engines built after 1951.

The photos indicate the City Petroleum automatic transmission fluid has no designation, while the Star Petroleum ATF is labeled as Type A fluid.

The Michigan agency said the products were primarily sold at small independent gas stations, discount and party stores. Its possible they were also sold in some oil change facilities across the state, the department noted.

These two companies are selling substandard product, and the stop-use and stop-removal orders ensure Michigan consumers and business alike are getting what they pay for and protecting their vehicles, said Jamie Clover Adams, director of the department. When products dont meet viscosity levels, it can cause lasting damage to vehicles. So its vital that consumers and businesses stop using or selling these products immediately.

The department has been in contact with the companies and they have been cooperating with our investigation, Holton said.

Rianda Faraj, director of Star Petroleum, emphasized the company is not misrepresenting anything on its own branded lubricant bottles labels. The Star Petroleum brand, is what we call our low end market oil, where people are looking for a $1.99 quart of oil to top off with, Faraj told Lube Report, noting that it only distributes the product within Michigan. The state of Michigan pretty much joined hands with the API and big oil companies, and decided they basically want to ban this oil out of the market, he asserted.

Faraj claimed that the agencys announcement was too broad in banning use of all products distributed by Star Petroleum, and he hopes the orders will be amended. We do carry a lot of other brands like Mobil, Pennzoil and Quaker State, he said. We also offer bulk oil, antifreeze and washer solvent. We are still open for business – were just selling other brands and products.

Lube Report was unable to reach City Petroleum for comment by deadline. City Petroleum officials have previously told Lube Report its City Star product is an SA oil that has no additives and is considered a top off oil.

In October 2011, North Carolina officials instituted a stop-sale order on 5W-30, 10W-30 and 10W-40 grades of City Star brand motor oils after they failed quality tests.

In December 2012, the Petroleum Quality Institute of America issued a Dont Buy alert for products bearing City Star, Super Star, Royal Star and Royal labels. In November 2012, PQIA issued a Buyer Beware warning on City Star and Everclear automatic transmission fluids, noting that, the very low viscosity of these products, lack of additives and high silicon levels indicate these products may cause damage to automatic transmissions.

In 2011, PQIA issued a Consumer Alert on the 10W-30 Star Petroleum High Mileage Formula product, saying test results showed the product was not a SAE 10W-30, and did not meet any recognized specifications for a motor oil. The viscosity for the oil was 68 percent below where it should be for a SAE 10W-30, PQIAs test results found.