One in Five Bulk Oils Bad


The American Petroleum Institutes annual motor oil testing program found almost one in five samples of bulk motor oil purchased from the North American marketplace in each of the last five years failed to meet API motor oil performance standards.

API said it purchased and tested more than 1,000 motor oils dispensed from bulk tanks in North America over the last five years and nearly 20 percent of the bulk oil samples tested failed to meet API standards. The association compared the test results against thousands of licensed oil formulations to determine the identity of the oils and to verify that the oils met the performance level claimed.

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API is concerned about the high levels of failure we are finding in our audit results, Kevin Ferrick, APIs engine oil licensing and certification system manager, said in an Oct. 21 news release. API is sharing these audit findings with the public as part of its new Motor Oil Matters program, which helps reduce the risk of consumers receiving oil that doesnt meet their cars performance requirements.

Under the MOM program, distributors and installers can register for licensing and are able to display a trademarked logo that signals to buyers their participation in the quality monitoring program. Each participant must submit to an auditing process, and MOM holds the oil distributors and oil change locations accountable if theyre not up to MOM standards. According to the programs web site, the process includes random product tests, supply and delivery audits and careful screenings.

Ferrick said API collects the samples nationwide as part of its annual audit program. We purchase bulk and packaged API licensed oils from the marketplace, based on a randomly-generated list, he told Lube Report, adding that API has usually tested about 600 packaged motor oil samples collected globally and 200 bulk motor oil samples collected in North America per year during the last few years.

API tests the oil dispensed from a bulk tank into a clean, one-gallon jug. Our collection folks arrive at a location with a jug, they identify themselves as sampling for API, they interview the location about the brands available, and they witness the oil being dispensed into the one-gallon jug, Ferrick said.

He said API hasnt broken down the sample failures by type. Some were certainly critical fails, while others would have been less severe failures, he noted.

We share the actual results with the oil marketers and provide summary information to the locations, Ferrick said. Oil marketers are required to respond to all nonconforming reports and explain how they will remedy the nonconformance.

Motor Oil Matters had its roots in a 2009 initiative started by Shell Oil, which transferred the program to API in 2011 so that all distributors and installers could participate. The MOM program aims to provide information to consumers on the importance of using quality motor oils, ensuring the quality oils are installed in cars and trucks, and verifying the oils are properly identified on invoices and receipts. API has been monitoring the quality of engine oils sold in containers on the retail market since 1994 under its Engine Oil Licensing and Certification system.