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PQIA's mission is to serve the consumers of lubricants by testing and reporting on the quality and integrity of lubricants in the marketplace.  

Under the Nose of Our Lawmakers
August 12, 2015

Maybe it's Time Washington Lifts the Blind a Bit to Take a Peek at Motor Oils 
The Petroleum Quality Institute of America (PQIA) recently purchased samples of passenger car motor oils in Washington D.C. To our disappointment, a significant number of the motor oils we observed and purchased on shelves at convenience stores in D.C. meet only API SA and SB Service Classifications. API SA is not suitable for use in gasoline engines built after 1930 and API SB is not suitable for use in gasoline engines built after 1951. These are obsolete specifications and oils that may cause harm in modern engines.  

So one has to ask,why are obsolete motor oils that can cause harm to nearly all cars currently on the road, sold in stores right under the nose of our lawmakers in Washington, D.C.?

The First Round of Motor Oils Purchased in Washington D.C.  (and there are more to come)

These Products Meet Obsolete Specifications and May Cause Harm to Modern Engines 

Click Bottles for Details

Are these obsolete motor oils in the market to service the collection of old cars housed in the Smithsonian? You can be sure they are not. Could it be that it takes decades for some of these convenience stores PQIA visited to turn inventory? That's highly unlikely in the 22nd-most populous city in the United States.
Instead, maybe they are on the shelves to take advantage of consumer ignorance about our industry's cryptic codes that define motor oil performance. Maybe some that sell obsolete oils understand that most consumers have no idea what API SA, SB, or S (whatever) means? And because of that, consumers will take comfort in seeing words on front labels that they believe denote quality.
To understand how this can happen, take a look at the front labels on the bottles of "XCEL" motor oils PQIA purchased in D.C. (see links above). The label on the front of the XCEL bottles state "Protects like no other" and below that, in 36 point font (and that's hard to miss), it reads "PREMIUM." And adding to the adornment on the front label, it shows a race car flag with the word "SPECIAL" overprint on the flag. Say no more, that's language most consumers understand, especially the part about "Protects like no other." Take it and go!
But not so fast... if a consumer takes the time to read the back label, it says the XCEL oil is "Recommended for older cars where a minimum amount of additive is required." And just below that, the label reads, "API Service SA." 
So what's that about and who are they fooling? Certainly they are not looking to fool anyone in our industry that has a clue about standards and specifications.
Unfortunately, however, they may fool reasonable consumers who, rightfully so, don't connect the statement "for older cars" to mean a 1929 Model T or a 1950 Ford Country Squire. Instead, they may think it means their car; a 2001 Camry, Honda Civic, Ford Expedition, or some other car they drive that is out of warranty. With that, unless they have a decoder ring or an industry Guru to tell them what API SA means, let's be real, most consumers might buy obsolete oil because they have no clue who API is, let alone what API SA, SB and on up to SN means. 
And there is more.
Adding to PQIA's concern about some of the motor oils we purchased in D.C. being obsolete, there are other issues of concern. One is that the "Black Knight" brand found in D.C. has, in various viscosity grades, been ordered off the shelves by state authorities in Alabama, Georgia, Missouri, and New Jersey. See link.
So at the end of the day, after PQIA's tour through D.C.,although it's good to see some states are taking action to protect consumers from harmful motor oils, it's disappointing to see that the lawmakers in the U.S. Capital have yet to take action to protect consumers from obsolete, potentially engine damaging motor oils sold just below their nose on Capital Hill.

Stay tuned, there is more to come on PQIA's pass through the D.C. 

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Help support PQIA's efforts to assure the quality and integrity of lubricants in the market.

The Petroleum Quality Institute of America's mission is to serve the consumer of lubricants by testing and reporting on the quality and integrity of lubricants in the marketplace. It is expected that this improved visibility of quality will lead to wider conformance by lubricant manufacturers to specification and performance claims. 

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