PQIA: Don’t Buy Orbit


Orbit brand motor oil and transmission fluid can cause damage to car engines and automatic transmissions, the Petroleum Quality Institute of America said, recently issuing Dont Buy alerts for both products.

Metuchen, N.J.-based PQIA tests and issues reports on the quality of lubricants in the U.S. market.

Lube Report was not able to reach Orbit Oil, which has a listed street address in Gary, Ind., for comment by deadline.

PQIAs analysis of multiple Orbit motor oil samples obtained in Missouri and Indiana found the products extremely thin, as much as 74 percent below the minimum viscosity requirements for their implied viscosity grade.

Motor oils this thin are not able to adequately separate and lubricate moving engine parts and can lead to rapid wear and even engine seizure, PQIA said in its March 13 consumer alert. In addition, the samples tested lack the critical additives needed to protect car engines from wear, sludge, rust and corrosion, and may contain abrasive contaminates.

PQIA President Tom Glenn said that Missouri government officials are aware of the dont buy alert on Orbits motor oil. Indiana will be made aware of it today with an overnight letter to the attorney general, Glenn told Lube Report last Friday.

PQIA pointed out that the products tested are labeled, for example, as 5-30, which suggests the oil is a 5W-30 motor oil. None of the products tested came close to the implied viscosity grades on their labels, the institute noted.

Glenn said that while PQIA obtained the Orbit motor oil products from convenience stores in parts of Indiana and Missouri, the products are also offered online by wholesalers. We found it at nine different convenience stores, in the general area from South Bend to Indianapolis, he noted. They have a sizeable presence there.

He said its important for prospective buyers to look closely at the label on the bottle. Labeling it as 5-30 for example, minus the W, is an old trick, Glenn pointed out. Marketers of substandard products may also try to trick customers by eliminating the dash in the product label, so products may read, 5W30.

While Orbits label touts all season protection, he noted that falsely implies the product is a multi-viscosity oil, when it isnt. If you shake the bottle, it sounds far more like water than it does oil, he said.

He said test results also indicated that the Orbit motor oil product has no ability to neutralize acids in the engine. Thats typical of an [API] SA, maybe even SB, 1930s motor oil. Orbits label doesnt say that – just older cars. Even if I had a Model A, I wouldnt put this in there.

PQIAs dont buy alert for the ATF on Monday pointed out that while the label on the product says Automatic Transmission Fluid, Type A, test results showed the sample was more than 70 percent below the minimum viscosity requirement for a Type A ATF, an obsolete specification intended for use in General Motors automatic transmissions built prior to 1957. In addition, PQIAs tests found the flashpoint was 24 degrees C below the minimum requirement for that type of transmission fluid. Use of this oil will cause damage to automatic transmissions, PQIA concluded.

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