Market Topics

Letters to the Editor


Performance is What Defines Synthetics

Dear LubesnGreases,

I have been following the synthetic definition columns by Tom Glenn and other dialog in your maga-zine. The commentary trivi-alizes what took place between Castrol and Mobil several years ago.

As someone who was intimately involved in the debate before the National Advertising

Division (NAD) of the Better Business Bureau, I can assure it didnt revolve around Websters Dictionary definitions, as Hatcos Tom Schaefer suggests. Both Castrol and Mobil presented liter-ally boxloads of data. Also outside experts were brought in on both sides. This included a Nobel Laureate in chemistry. Both parties incurred sub-stantial legal costs. Exxon and Shell weighed in on Castrols behalf. (You may recall that Exxon was making a base oil called Exxsyn at the time.)

What ultimately matters is whether there is any real trade-off in perfor-mance in motors oils. The answer is a resounding no. I emphasize real because nonstandard tests can be contrived to differentiate products. It has been shown time and again in litigation and government (FTC) action that there is lit-tle consumer relevance in most of these.

If PAOs or esters could show superiority we would be seeing advertising to that effect. As far as stretching the synthetic definition, in terms of con-tent the market has been self-correcting when it comes to product claims. That is, litigation, NAD chal-lenge, the FTC or an article in Consumer Reports will have the necessary impact.

Mike McHenry

McHenry Consulting

Washington, N.J.

Regarding Tom Glenns column in the October issue, I couldnt help but chuckle when I saw that the second respondent to the question about whether there should be some better definition of what constitutes a syn-thetic engine oil was a Castrol representative – arguably THE company most responsible for the dilemma we now face as a result of their [NAD] win over Mobil!

In addition, would Scott Schwindaman from Lubrication Engineers sup-port the argument that since 20 percent or more of a Group I based engine oil is manufactured chemi-cal additives and some products promoted as synthetic blends contain 20 percent or less of syn-thetic base stocks, then the case could be made that virtually any blended lube is a synthetic blend? I think this perspective was posited in a prior issue.

Better clarification or defi-nition would certainly help.

Paul Buck

Independent Amsoil dealer

Duluth, Ga.

Looking Good

Dear LubesnGreases,

I just want to compliment you and your staff on the magnificent artwork, pic-tures and layout of LubesnGreases. I can understand why you win awards and recognition for the way the magazine looks. I about fell over laughing at the Pinocchio cover (June 2003), and the can of worms picture that accompanied Tom Glenns recent column on synthet-ic motor oils was killer.

There have been countless others as well; who can forget the great annual Pie in the Sky covers?

Thanks again for adding some visual humor and attractiveness to a subject that can easily be much too technical and lifeless.

Mike Meadows

Moroil Technologies

Concord, N.C.

I always look forward to LubesnGreases every month and on receipt the first thing I do is open the last page to read, digest and absorb Jack Goodhues masterpieces to the best of my capabil-ity. As Nancy DeMarco mentions, his columns are informative and provocative, and I would like to add that they are very crisp. Mr Goodhue, please continue the good work of writing for LNG.

JR Khona

Savita Chemicals Ltd.

Mumbai, India

Where Does it Go?

Dear LubesnGreases,

I want to congratulate David McFall on his recent columns. Almost 1.5 Billion Gallons (November, page 6) has hit pretty close to home. I was wondering when you would get around to dis-cussing used oil and what happens to it. The issue of collecting used petrole-um products is so impor-tant, yet few people really know how it works or what drives it. Is the industry doing what it should do? or is it still in the dark ages? There are many, many small collec-tors who have their transporter license, but does that really mean they are tried, true, and tested? There are only a few large players that truly cover a large part of the country: Who do they serve, and what happens to the products after they are collected?

I have been fortunate enough to work and see, over my career, all facets of this lubricant industry. And now, in this job, I get to work and see the final end of the lubri-cant chain.

George Crow

Atlantic Industrial Services

Savoy, Texas

As an auto repair shop owner, I believe there is another place oil gets into the environ-ment that someone should try to evaluate: In western Washington state, it rains a lot! We get somewhere around 60 to 80 inches each year – Seattle and Tacoma less, but still plenty to wash their streets clean. The waste oil dripped from road vehicles that ends up as the dark stripe on the roadways is ending up in the bays and ocean. I have a gut feeling it is a large number.

Auto makers have nearly cured the new engines of leaking but plenty still do. A quart of oil a week at $2, or $250 to replace the rear main seal? Theres little incentive to do the repair.

Conrad H Jobst Jr.

B&B Automotive

Aberdeen, Wash.

I thoroughly enjoyed David McFalls column Almost 1.5 Billion Gallons, and I was particularly interested in the section related to oil filters.

The Filter Manufacturers Council (FMC) is providing greatly inflated numbers on the recycling rate of oil fil-ters to persuade federal and state governments that the filter industry can take care of its waste without government regulation. If you confront the FMC it will readily admit that it doesnt know what the rate is, and those figures are mostly just a guess. It doesnt have any data to support its [50 percent] claim.

Many studies conducted by individual states show much lower rates of recy-cling. A recent Virginia study (see http://www.nova ort.pdf) showed only a 10 percent rate of recycling. Florida claims that 52 per-cent of filters were divert-ed from the waste stream; that is mostly due to the fact that 30 percent of all the waste in Florida is incin-erated (http://www.dep. topics/publications/shw/ used_oil/03NEW.pdf). That means that only 22 percent of the filters in Florida were actually recycled.

Except for five states (CA, FL, MN, TX and RI) commercial repair facilities are not required to recycle their used filters. The only regulation on used oil fil-ters in the rest of the United States is the EPA hot drain. That is why so few filters are actually recy-cled and most are just thrown in the trash.

In the future, please ask that FMC substantiate its claims. Remember that its a lobbying organization. One of its primary mis-sions is to prevent govern-ment regulation of its members products.

Bret Nichols

Nichols Filter Co.

Bristow, Va.

Valued Data

Dear LubesnGreases,

Thank you for publishing the Lubricants Industry Salary Surveys. The infor-mation is very helpful in determining the correct compensation range for our key management posi-tions. It would be regret-table to lose a key employ-ee to a competitor because you felt like his or her monetary demands were too great, only to dis-cover later that your own assumptions were askew.

Sorry you guys have taken some lumps over this but for Petes sake, you are journalists and should remain independent from industry influence. You are of no value to me if your message can be controlled by anyone in the industry. Keep up the good work.

Fred Pate

Summit Industrial Products, Inc.

Tyler, Texas

Related Topics

Market Topics