From an article by George Gill in “Lube Report,” Wednesday Oct 23, 2013
“The American Petroleum Institute’s annual motor oil testing program found almost one in five samples of bulk motor oil purchased from the North American marketplace in each of the last five years failed to meet API motor oil performance standards.”
The results were based on approximately 200 samples of bulk oil per year taken over the last 5 years. The API is the organization that organization that is responsible for testing and certifying that lubricants meet the established standards. This sampling is part of their followup testing to make sure the manufacturers are continuing to maintain the standards for which they have been licensed. (Note: The API standards are the MINIMUM standards the lubricant must meet to be licensed. If lubricants are not meeting these standards they should not be used in any vehicle or equipment calling for that licensed standard.)
Should you be concerned? It depends. If you have a newer vehicle and routinely have your oil changed at a location that uses bulk oil pumped from a tank, maybe. Without knowing more about where the defective samples were taken, the type of facility involved, the brand names involved, and the reason for failure, it’s hard to determine the severity of the problem and whether it impacts the average consumer.
What can you do? If you don’t normally change your oil yourself but have it done for you, request that your oil be changed using a name brand oil from a bottle (not bulk tank) that meets the current API Standards or bring your own oil and request they use that for the oil change.
Note: Anyone doing oil changes for the general public should be using oils the meet or exceed the most current API / ILSAC standards (SN, CJ-4, GF-5)
Current API Standards For Gasoline Engines:
- SN Current Introduced in October 2010, designed to provide improved high temperature deposit protection for pistons, more stringent sludge control and improved seal compatibility. API SN with Resource Conserving matches ILSAC GF-5 by combining API SN performance with improved fuel economy, turbocharger protection, emission control system compatibility and protection of engines operating on ethanol-containing fuels up to E85.
- SM Current For 2010 and older automotive engines.
- SL Current For 2004 and older automotive engines.
- SJ Current For 2001 and older automotive engines.
Current API Standards For Diesel Engines:
- CJ-4 Current For high-speed four-stroke cycle diesel engines designed to meet 2010 model year on-highway and Tier 4 nonroad exhaust emission standards as well as for previous model year diesel engines. These oils are formulated for use in all applications with diesel fuels ranging in sulfur content up to 500 ppm (0.05% by weight). However, the use of these oils with greater than 15 ppm (0.0015% by weight) sulfur fuel may impact exhaust aftertreatment system durability and/or drain interval. CJ-4 oils are especially effective at sustaining emission control system durability where particulate filters and other advanced aftertreatment systems are used. Optimum protection is provided for control of catalyst poisoning, particulate filter blocking, engine wear, piston deposits, low- and high-temperature stability, soot handling properties, oxidative thickening, foaming, and viscosity loss due to shear. API CJ-4 oils exceed the performance criteria of API CI-4 with CI-4 PLUS, CI-4, CH-4, CG-4 and can effectively lubricate engines calling for those API Service Categories. When using CJ-4 oil with higher than 15 ppm sulfur fuel consult the engine manufacturer for service interval.
- CI-4 Current Introduced in 2002. For high-speed 4 stroke engines designed to meet 2004 exhaust emission standards implemented in 2002. CI-4 oils are formulated to sustain engine durability where exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) is used and are intended for use with diesel fuels ranging in sulfur content up to 0.5% weight. Can be used in place of CD, CE, CF-4, CG-4 and CH-4 oils. Some CI-4 oils may also qualify for the CI-4 PLUS designation.
- CH-4 Current Introduced in 1998. For high speed four stroke engines designed to meet 1998 exhaust emission standards. CH-4 oils are specifically compounded for use with diesel fuels ranging in sulfur content up to 0.5% weight. Can be used in place of CD, CE, CF-4 and CG-4 oils.
ILSAC Standard For Passenger Care Engine Oils:
- GF-5 Current Introduced in October 2010, designed to provide improved high temperature deposit protection for pistons and turbochargers, more stringent sludge control, improved fuel economy, enhanced emissions control system compatibility, seal compatibility, and protection of engines operating on ethanol-containing fuels up to E85.