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Letters to the Editor


Gaming the System

Dear LubesnGreases,

Congratulations on July 2005, an excellent, well written and informative issue. I was particularly impressed with David McFalls column describing APIs recent meeting actions – and his article on implementation of the American Chemistry Councils protocol on testing of engine oils is of the highest journalistic quality.

McFalls description of past gaming practices in testing and qualification by both additive suppliers and major oil companies and the effect the ACC Code of Practice has had on these past practices is excellent. His writings bring back past memories and experiences of gaming practices of a similar philosophical nature, which had been employed by blender-compounders in the formulation and blending of engine oils.

Also, Tom Glenns series on oil filters (The Dirt on Filters, June and July) is excellent, and a vivid example of additive and major oil companies not being the only practitioners of gaming.

Bob Portwood

RBP Consulting

Claremore, Okla.

Whats in that Filter?

I am an owner/operator of a Chevron branded gasoline station/c-store, quick lube, and car wash on the same site. Tom Glenns column, The Dirt on Air Filters, touched on a subject which is long overdue to be looked at by the lubricants industry and the Filter Manufacturers Council. With the recent trend of automotive OEMs requiring the use of very specific oils, meeting certain approvals, etc., it is sad to see there is no conscious effort by anyone to require a standard for oil and air filters.

I have long been suspicious of the parts that are sold to the aftermarket, so several months ago I started a project in my shop to cut open and examine used oil filters of all makes, models and manufacturers. The results were startling: Ruptured media, poorly designed bypass valves, extremely low media content, poor construction, weak anti-drainback valves seem to me the norm with many oil filters sold to the installer market, including the top-selling models, their clones sold under various brand names, and house brands. After cutting open about 500 used oil filters, I can honestly say that the longevity of consumers engines is not the primary concern of many filter manufacturers. You get what you pay for definitely applies here.

Tom, keep up the good


John Alto

Altos LubeXpress

Sherwood, Ore.

Really excellent, Tom. When I was a machineshop student (in the 70s) one of my classmates said, Theres a really good rule of thumb about changing oil and filters …. all that stuff about 3,000 miles only counts when you perfectly meet average driving conditions. The rule of thumb is this: Change the oil and filter when the oil gets dirty.

Dumb me asks, And how do you know when it gets dirty? You look at it. If it doesnt look like it did when you put it in, its getting dirty, he said. When it looks like it shouldnt be sloshing around in your engine, change it. It aint sposed to be black and gritty.

Now that I teach machine shop and lubrication, the rule of thumb still seems pretty good. But I have to ask about the Wal-Mart $2.00 Super Tech filter. I figure it has to be made by one of the major filter manufacturers, just like green beans are packaged under different brand names at the grocery store. So would you use it in:

A. Your Porsche?

B. Your family car?

C. Your teenagers car?

D. Your brother-in-laws car?

E. Your lawn mower?

F. Only if you were changing the filter in somebody elses rental car?

Rod White

Northwest Technical Institute

Springdale, Ark.

Voices on a Tipping Point

I just finished reading David McFalls column, Teetering on a 15,000-mile Tipping Point (August 2005), and although his perspective on the ExxonMobil concept is interesting I found that some clarification from an OEM was needed. You should understand that how an engine oil performs/ protects an engine can be and is most likely different between vehicle manufacturers. Each OEM makes decisions concerning vehicle durability, emissions and fuel economy. These decisions pertain to engine design, how they are calibrated for operation, position in the vehicle, transmission shift points and operating temperature

I would not find it unusual that an engine oil would perform differently between different manufacturers. This is the basis for requiring field testing in our vehicles of those engine oil formulations being considered for initial fill and service products. The message we send our customers is not mixed but is a consistent message based on validation testing and field performance.

Dennis W. Florkowski

Daimler Chrysler Fuels & Lubricants Group

Auburn Hills, Mich.

David McFalls article, Teetering on a 15,000-mile Tipping Point, did a good job favorably positioning XOMs new product line – 21 references to the company in the six-page article made sure of that. But how does adding a third (and entirely selfserving) category of typical to the two existing categories ( normal and severe) settle confusion in the consumer market?

Whats more, XOMs endurance oil product labels read, If your vehicle is covered by a warranty or is equipped with an oil life sensor, follow the recommended oil change interval. That leads consumers right back to the task of determining whether they operate under normal or severe driving conditions. And for those customers driving an American car, 90 percent of the owners manuals through 2004 will recommend 3,000-mile severe service intervals, not just the quick-lube industry. Its also worth mentioning that the average car on the road today is approaching 9 years of age and most of those have 3,000-mile intervals as well.

As for the environmental windfall? I see pressure on big oil companies for incremental improvements in oil performance as a way for domestic auto manufacturers to continue to meet government CAFE standards and delay, yet again, the inevitable task of designing more truly efficient, environmentally friendly cars.

Tom Morley

The Lube Stop Inc.

Berea, Ohio

It has been an hour since I read Teetering on a 15,000-mile Tipping Point, and my ears are still ringing. David McFalls words were written with such force and directness that they were transformed into a James Earl Jones-like presence in my mind. The point that he raises has such enormous implications, it should be required reading for anyone who drives a vehicle. At the very least, his words should be republished in Time or Newsweek, or maybe even turned into a 60 Minutes segment.

Thank you Mr. McFall, for saying what needs to be said. You have certainly tipped the scales.

Mark Hill

Companion Products Inc.

Kingston, Ill.

Digs the Digital

Many thanks for including me in the mailing list for the digital edition of your magazine. Since my early days as a professional in the field of lubrication and lubricants marketing, LubesnGreases has been my standard for our industrys publications. Your articles are quite useful and make an excellent guide for well-rounded professionals in the lubricants field. Keep up the good work and more power!

Beau Santos

Qatar Fuel – WOQOD

Doha, Qatar

Editors note: Subscribers everywhere can sign up for LubesnGreases digital edition easily at Its completely free worldwide. (Of course, readers are welcome to continue receiving our print edition as well.)

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