Valvoline, ExMo Lock Horns


Valvoline Lubricants advertising in recent months, both in online and print media, claiming its SynPower SAE 5W-30 motor oil offers four times better wear protection than Mobil 1 5W-30 has become a sore spot between it and ExxonMobil.

A Nov. 20 letter by Valvoline technical director Thomas Smith to its customers and marketers reiterated that claim, and then stirred the pot further by saying testing with an independent laboratory indicated Mobil 1 5W-30 does not meet minimum API SM or ILSAC GF-4 specifications because of its inferior performance in the Sequence IVA engine wear test. Vehicle manufacturers recommend consumers only use oil which meet those minimum standards.

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While we are aware of Valvoline’s assertions, ExxonMobil stands behind the quality of Mobil 1 and all of our lubes products, company spokeswoman Prem Nair told Lube Report. ExxonMobil has not lost GF-4 licenses for any Mobil 1 products, and our GF-4 licenses for all product lines are valid.

Smith said ExxonMobil hasnt contested Valvolines claims with any outside group. Theyve questioned our claim about four times better wear protection when we first came out with it, he said. We have since provided them with the data to show there are some concerns over how their product performs. We did that in September, and as of yet weve not heard back from them.

Because ExxonMobil has challenged our claim, both directly with Valvoline and with many our customers, we feel compelled to reassure interested parties that our claim is fully substantiated, Smith said in the letter, which included an attached Q&A to provide additional information and data. He said Valvolines premium conventional motor oil, DuraBlend synthetic blend, MaxLife and SynPower brands all meet or exceed the SM and GF-4 specifications. SynPower, he claimed, substantially exceeds the Sequence IVA wear test requirements.

The Sequence IVA wear test (pronounced four-A) measures cam-lobe wear in the valvetrain at low temperatures and rpms, simulating idling after start up and stop-and-go traffic. Smith said that over the last two years, Valvoline conducted a number of tests and commissioned an independent laboratory to evaluate the performance of SynPower and segment leader Mobil 1 in the wear test. The labs used SAE 5W-30 because it is is the top-selling viscosity grade.

What we can speak to from the data is in the Sequence IVA test – which is the primary wear test for API , ILSAC and for many of the North American and Asian OEMs – we show a very large, significant benefit, for Valvolines SynPower, Smith said.

Valvoline asserted that because its tests show Mobil 1 5W-30 does not meet basic API SM or ILSAC GF-4 specifications, that means Mobil 1 5W-30 cannot meet basic GM, Ford, Chrysler or Honda specifications.

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