Quaker State Joins Wear Wars


Quaker State wants to join Castrol, Valvoline and Mobil 1 in the marketing boxing ring to decide whose synthetic motor oil has better wear protection, but the question is whether any of the three other brands will accept the challenge.

On Friday Quaker State invited Castrol, Valvoline and Mobil 1 to a motor oil challenge, a one-time Sequence IVA engine test to determine which brands synthetic motor oil provides better wear protection. The deadline to reply is March 27 at 5 p.m. Eastern Standard Time.

Steve Harman, president of the Americas for Quaker State, sent a letter to executives responsible for Mobil 1, Castrol and Valvoline, and a reprint of that letter was published in a full-page advertisement in Friday’s edition of USA Today to make the motoring public aware of the challenge. According to USA Todays advertising rate card, a full page color ad on Fridays costs $231,000, before any discounts.

In the letter, Harman noted that in recent months, some companies – Valvoline and Castrol – had generated marketing materials that make claims and comparisons against other brands related to engine wear protection as shown by the Sequence IVA test, but did not include Quaker State Q HorsePower synthetic motor oil in their comparisons.

Valvoline Lubricants advertised in online and print media last year claiming its SynPower SAE 5W-30 motor oil offered four times better wear protection than Mobil 1 5W-30. Last month Castrol started advertising that its Edge synthetic motor oil offers eight times better wear protection than Mobil 1. Both companies have cited Sequence IVA engine wear test results in their advertising.

To facilitate this, Quaker State now officially challenges your brands in the Sequence IVA test, Harman continued. Well even pay for it. We would be grateful if you could name one ILSAC GF-4, SAE 5W-30 full synthetic motor oils from your brands that is widely available across the U.S. to take part in this challenge against our Quaker State Q HorsePower 5W-30 full synthetic motor oil. He said the results of the test would be published.

These are marketing tactics, ExxonMobil told Lube Report, referring to Quaker States motor oil challenge. Besides assessments based on laboratory and bench tests, the performance and protection of Mobil 1 fully synthetic motor oil has been repeatedly recognized based on real world conditions and experiences. The worlds leading auto manufacturers use and recommend Mobil 1 synthetic motor oil more than any other motor oil brand; the worlds top motorsports teams rely on Mobil 1 technology for outstanding engine protection and performance.”

I can confirm we got the letter, and we are looking through it, David Gannon, marketing director for passenger car engine oils at BP Lubricants USA, owner of the Castrol brand, informed Lube Report yesterday.

Were reviewing the matter, James Vitak, spokesman for Valvoline parent Ashland, told Lube Report yesterday.

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. In the test, Quaker States Harman said, a score of 90 microns of wear is the acceptable threshold for the most current ILSAC GF-4 and API SM certifications; the lower the score in the ASTM Sequence IVA, the higher level of wear protection provided by the motor oil.

He indicated the products will be marked as blind samples for the test. The results of the test will be analyzed at 95 percent statistical confidence level to determine which oil performs best, Harman stated in the letter.

Quaker State arranged for the independent, San Antonio, Texas-based testing firm Test Engineering Inc. to purchase off the shelf at a major national retailer the product identified for testing. The Sequence IVA test costs roughly $20,000 per run, a Test Engineering company official told Lube Report.

Troy Chapman, marketing team leader for Pennzoil/Quaker State brands, which are part of Shells SOPUS Products business in Houston, said, What really was the catalyst for a lot of this was that over the last month or so, weve been doing a fair amount of consumer research, talking to our customers, and we continue to hear a lot of confusion about this topic of wear protection. They see a lot of big brands naming each other in this space, and nobodys quite sure exactly what it means, or who at the end of the day is the best. He noted that Quaker State itself has been questioned directly about its stance on it, and how its products perform in comparison.

Lube Report will report next week on whether Castrol, Valvoline and Mobil 1 agreed to participate in Quaker States motor oil challenge.

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