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Publishers Letter


With this issue, Automotive Editor David McFall continues his terri?c series on some of the steps this industry takes to ensure engine oil quality, with a look at the quality manufacturing programs at lubricant giant Valvoline and at Pinnacle Oil (which may not be a household name, but where quality certainly comes ?rst). Its clear that the commitment to consistently manufacture, and accurately label, on-spec products isnt contingent on company size.

This point was driven home at the Independent Lubricant Manufacturers Associations Management Forum in Tucson on March 31, when Ad Hoc Ethics Committee Chair Jim Taglia, of Nor-Lakes Services Midwest, unveiled the results of nearly two years of work. ILMA has proposed a quality program with teeth. It has asked the American Petroleum Institute to expand its established aftermarket audit program from the current 600 annual samples (of which about 33 are typically ILMA members products) to include roughly an additional 70 samples of ILMA members engine oils. And ILMA wants to collect and test not only its members API-licensed products, but nonlicensed oils as well, to verify compliance with marketing claims such as meets API SM.

Once ILMAs proposed expansion of APIs audit program is ?nalized, approved by both groups (as anticipated this month), and successfully implemented, ILMA hopes to expand the program to cover tractor hydraulic ?uids, transmission ?uids and other products prone to misrepresentation.

Theres more good news. As more and more engine oil is sold in bulk, API has long wanted to increase its sampling of bulk products. ILMA likewise wants to assure that it pulls a representative number of bulk oil samples. Coming at the problem from the other side, the Automotive Oil Change Association wants to stop substandard engine oils from reaching consumers through its members fast-lube outlets. The effort to sample and test bulk engine oils is just beginning, and the challenges are signi?cant – but a lot of the key players, including lube distributors, are now talking seriously.

Who knows? Perhaps theres hope this industry will some day confront its weakness for mouse milk.

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