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Letters to the Editor


ATF+4 Licensing Costs: Unacceptable

Dear LubesnGreases,

On Sept. 1, Chrysler began issuing ATF+4 licenses to independent lubricant manufacturers meeting quality criteria (see page 38, September issue). Allowing independent blenders the choice to seek OEM product approval licenses is always a big step in the right direction. Our company has always welcomed independent fluid monitoring and we participate in many annual programs.

Cost of licensing is the relevant issue. Based on my experience, it costs 15 to 25 percent more for a quality- and performance-driven ILMA member to manufacture the same high-end fluid, licensed or unlicensed, as refinery-backed major oil companies. The other side of the coin is the additive developers. If one additive company holds exclusivity on a licensable products additive system, it creates unfair pricing and restricts trade. (Will Lubrizol remain the only company supplying additive for licensed ATF+4?)

Applicants (blenders) must undergo a wide range of tests to verify that their blending capabilities meet ATF+4 specifications. As LubesnGreases noted, Blenders bear the costs of these tests, plus a $5,000 licensing fee and an additional fee of $1 per gallon of ATF+4 that they sell. We have no issue with the test verification process or field sample inspection. However, the associated cost is unacceptable – more than the combined approval and monitoring test programs of both Mack/Volvo and Detroit Diesel Corp. Further, charging an additional fee of $1 per gallon of ATF+4 sold annually is grotesquely out of proportion compared to the total number of gallons of transmission fluids manufactured in North America.

Adoption of a mutually equitable cost tier system, with less emphasis on a minimum annual fee, is more in line and is necessary for gathering support for OEM product approvals.

We agree OEM approvals and industry monitoring are essential to ensure the bar of quality remains high, and to weed out less-than-honest product performance claims. However, it seems evident that Chrysler has created a token program based on the cost associated with obtaining an ATF+4 license.

Terry Noland

Champion Brands LLC

Clinton, Mo.

Cover Up!

On the cover of the August issue, shouldnt the guy working under the car during the oil change be wearing safety glasses?

Jeffrey Allen

Caterpillar Technology & Solutions

Peoria, Ill.

Tipping and More

I read David McFalls Teetering on a 15,000-mile Tipping Point with interest. One thing not addressed by it or, I think, ExxonMobil and Amsoil, is how many miles the oil filter will last. The quantity of materials collected by the filter should be the same over a given distance, regardless of the oil change interval.

I have practiced extended oil change since some time in the mid-1980s, with used, low-mileage and new vehicles. The oil filter however, was replaced every 3,000 miles. I used Mobil 1 in these engines, with a lot of faith in the oil but not much in the filters. With over 110,000 miles on the engines at trade-in time, there was never a problem related to lubrication. The engines needed no more makeup oil at trade-in than they did when new(er).

Alan Trebs

Dynegy Midwest Generation

Alton, Ill.

I am amazed at David McFalls lack of thought in the area of changing oil. Yes, I will concede that new motor oils are better and have the ability to withstand the rigors of daily driving. But have you considered the consequences by most motorists if they were to follow such extended drain intervals? I have been in the automotive service business for 25 plus years, and an ASE Certified Technician for the better part of those years, and I routinely deal with vehicle problems from extending oil change intervals.

Lets first review the real world of stated guarantees on motor oil from all the major oil companies. They all state that they will warrant against oil-related failures. Sounds good, right? Wrong. Technically it is almost impossible to determine what has caused a camshaft lobe to round off, or the lifter face to disintegrate, rod/main bearing to start to wear and lose its surface, a piston pin to wear prematurely, etc. So proving to an oil company that damage was caused by the oil failing is nearly impossible. I am not saying all engine problems are oil related – but they arent all defective parts either.

Second, specified oil change intervals vary from manufacturer to manufacturer; if these are not met your warranty can be voided. If your vehicle is under warranty and you use Mobil Extended Life oil or Amsoil and extend your oil changes out to 12,000 to 15,000 miles and have an engine problem, you wont be treated very well by your dealerships service department. In fact, in most cases your claim will be denied due to exceeding the required oil change interval. I am not saying extending your oil change interval caused the failure, but it will void your warranty.

I think you do a disservice to the motoring public by advocating extended oil change intervals. The long-term effect is likely to be premature engine problems with very expensive repair costs. Sure the oil held up, but the oil company warranty didnt, nor the vehicle manufacturers warranty, nor the oil filter. So who ends up paying the high price of your recommendations in the long run? Everyone who foolishly followed them.

Dan Hinchee

Someplace USA

Having spent 30 years in the industry working with preventive maintenance schedules, I especially enjoyed David McFalls well-written column. I agreed with most of what he said except for high-mileage engine oil for cars (vehicles?) with more than 75,000 miles on the odometer. The high-mileage oil is for ENGINES with 75,000 miles or more, regardless of the odometer reading.

Unfortunately, Mark Ferners report, An Investigation Into Used Engine Oil Condition, was, to excerpt Davids words, relentless technobabble. Plus the man in the picture wouldnt need the funnel if he held the bottle correctly.

Roger L. Fennema

Los Gatos, Calif.

Congrats to David McFall on a great article. I appreciate (and agree with most of!) his comprehensive yet straightforward insights. I for years subscribed to, and preached to those that asked for my opinion (as a car nut as well as an engineer who at one point worked for GM), that 3,000-mile oil change intervals were best. Ive changed my tune to the 5,000 mark, at least for mineral oil based products. Personally, Im a little skeptical about going to 15k with the full synthetics, but feel up to 10k is a reasonable benchmark. The concern here is due in part to the efficacy of the filtering – as Im sure the latest oil and additive packages in these are still working.

As for the semi-synthetics, these seem to be questionable compromises, [due] to the uncertainty of exactly how much synthetic is actually in there.

Mark Eckstein

Auto-Mark Inc.

Midland, Mich.

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