Mostly Mechanical

Auto & Truck Oils, Lubes & Filters – Separating Technology from Hype

Petroleum Oil Marketing to Gullible Consumers

I recently found this example of how extensively big-oil substitutes marketing deception for actual performance and test data. Here’s what is being passed off as “Product Specs” direct from Valvoline’s website on MaxLife:

“Product Specs

MaxLife is formulated with extra anti-wear additives to exceed the engine protection requirements of ILSAC GF-3 and GF-4, and API SL/SM standards and is safe for use in new and rebuilt engines, and will not void new car warranties.”

That’s it.  Believe it or not, those are supposed to be “product specs”. I also noticed that the description of MaxLife includes this wording “The synthetic blend formula…”   But in their FAQ’s they have this specific Q&A:

“Is MaxLife motor oil a synthetic product?

No. MaxLife is made with premium base oils and special components to help slow the aging process of a vehicle’s engine.”

Clever, huh? They tell us it’s synthetic, but they also clarify by telling us it’s not. So then maybe it’s not really false advertising after all?

But then in another MaxLife FAQ, are these gems, listed as #7 and #10:

“Has MaxLife always been a synthetic blend?

MaxLife Synthetic Blend motor oil is actually the same product as regular MaxLife. MaxLife has always been a synthetic blend oil; we just now label the product that way. It is the same oil as before. As long as you have used MaxLife, you have used synthetic blended oil.”

Why is there no mileage limit given on MaxLife Synthetic motor oil? Mobil 1 says 15,000 miles and Amsoil says 25,000 miles?

Valvoline recommends following the oil change intervals recommended in your owner’s manual no matter what type of oil you use. Most manufacturers recommend every 3-months/3,000 miles.

So Valvoline is deliberately continuing the same give-me-money 3,000 mile oil change scam that GM and California have organized to end. And sorry, but what manufacturer recommends a 3,000 mile engine oil drain interval? GM’s OLS system averages 8,500 mile oil changes, and that assumes mediocre API Licensed petroleum.

A brief background is important for the majority of Americans who have no idea about the petroleum oil scam of the decade: It is only legal in America to sell Group III (hydrocracked petroleum) oil as “synthetic”, and the shelves are full of these supposed Big-Oil “synthetics”. Why? Because their studies showed that after 25 years of effort Amsoil had succeeded in bringing the synthetic-oil-market growth to critical mass, and demand was beginning to take off. Since a growing number of their customers were willing to pay big dollars for synthetics in order to save money and gain much better performance and value, Big Oil needed a solution. So in 1999 they flexed U.S. muscles, quietly redefining “synthetic”  in order to deceive the public and cash in on the profits. 

So with the new definition of a “synthetic” being a Group III (petroleum) as background, I have to conclude that MaxLife is only a Group II, perhaps with some synthetic additives (they claim 30% synthetic in one spot): that’s as mediocre as oil can get and still (barely) pass the API minimums. Clear and factual information? Comparative test data? Forget about it.

The Treasury Department teaches that you have to know what real money is, in order to spot a counterfeit.  So because most people have never seen one, here’s a real motor oil product data page.  And here’s my idea of comparative engine oil test data.  Keep in mind that those are the industry benchmark ASTM tests that all the oil companies use  – but to the public it’s as if they don’t even exist. Only one oil company publishes meaningful test results, they’re done by the same certified independent labs that do much of the API testing, and in over 30 years of publishing results against named engine oils with embarrasing performance gaps, they’ve never once been accused of falsified data. (Hmmm.)

In conclusion, here’s my translation out of Valvoline marketing-hype into reality:
All oils that meet any minimum requirements will “help slow the aging process” more than canola oil, but you can feel good about using our run-of-the-mill-mineral-oil because we’ve studied how the magic “synthetic” word, combined with our copy writing and label-designing skills, can give you warm emotional fuzzies about paying too much money for it.

Suggestion: don’t be a gullible consumer. If you educate yourself you can triple your remaining vehicle life. The million mile van used the best synthetic lubes and nanofiber filtration technology, and is still running strong on the original untouched transmission with 150,000 mile synthetic tranny fluid changes.

May 28, 2009 Posted by | Amsoil, Engine Air Filtration, Filtration Technologies, Lubrication Oils & Fluids, Petroleum Oil, Synthetic Oil, Vehicle Maintenance | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Good thing Amsoil doesn’t stoop to API Licensing

Irresponsible and unqualified “maroons” too often leave ugly trash commments on vehicle forums, making grossly incorrect statements about Amsoil synthetic oils that just infuriate me. Like this classic gem from the Slant Six forum: “Don’t let the Scamsoil droids convince you their expensive gunk is superior to properly-tested, properly-certified regular or synthetic name brand oil.” Or over at Ford-trucks.com you find “Most of Scamsoil’s products ARE NOT API certified!!!! Sounds like you have been reading the lies on the Scamsoil website, stay away”.

If they were merely sharing their opinion and stating their credentials, people wouldn’t have much heartburn over it. But to make false statements like that, irresponsibly leading people away from the superior performance and lower costs of advanced technology, gets me irate.

So, for the record, let’s establish qualifications before we talk about facts. I’m a B.S. degreed Mechanical Engineer. I’ve been in industry for more than 20 years, the last 5 as an engineering manager, and have spent more than the last 10 in the Tier 1 and Tier 2 suppliers, where most automotive parts are made and a lot of value-added engineering is done to improve the products and manufacturing processes. As a matter of fact, while the OEM has some involvement when a subassembly has a defect, guess who is required to do an “8-D” root-cause analysis, implement corrective actions, and monitor to make sure the CA’s are effective and it can’t happen again?

In 2004 I bought a 2002 GMC Sierra with the Duramax turbodiesel and Allison transmission package. That was the beginning of a journey of extensive personal research into vehicle drivetrain lubrication and filtration, and a growing passion to tell people the astonishing facts I learned. I became an Amsoil dealer, not only to help people get literature and best pricing, but to continue learning.

Opinions are as worthless as armpits – everyone has one, but most of them are smelly. And you can see some of the smelly opinions in detail on this “scamsoil” page for Amsoil skeptics, which corrects Amsoil myths using facts.  I tell people what I know, and the conclusions I can reasonably prove with facts and data. So let’s talk about facts. But before I can get far, I have to explain the common sense backdrop to correctly “frame” the facts.

I find it interesting how one-sided the online forums often are: if an Amsoil dealer makes a statement, he’s often dissed, disbelieved, and ridiculed – even if he’s an engineer. If he’s not a “supporting sponsor” of the forum who is paying for the right to make “commercial” comments, he may get warned, censored or kicked off by the moderators for “advertising” helpful facts or suggestions. However, no one seems to question if naysayers have ever worked for petroleum suppliers, if they have an engineering degree, or if they have had training sponsored by “big oil” – and they aren’t required to be a paying sponsor to make glowing recommendations of petro oils. Couple that with a forum’s discussion environment of one or two pararaph comments, and the deck is strongly stacked against open an discussion of engineering facts and test data.

Executive Summary-in-One-Paragraph of the
Facts on API Certification of Synthetic Engine Oils
Under Their EOLCS:

Unfortunately for consumers, the API has no Certification for high performance: only minimum performance. Further, the API provides no reasonable certification options for genuine Group IV and Group V synthetics, deliberately maintaining a skewed structure that multiplies synthetic test costs by several times. In addition, the API Certification adds content restrictions (not required by the SAE, not required by the OEM’s) that prevent long drain intervals and prevent very low wear rates. So the world of API Licensing implies that high-profit mediocre products are high performance, it ensures that only petroleum-company oils can be cost-effectively Certified by the API, and it ensures that the world’s highest-performance products cannot be API Licensed/Certified at all. Fortunately for consumers who want high performance and high value, the API Certification monopoly is a voluntary trademark Licensing program that does not matter in vehicle warranties.

Now, that’s stunning information for many people.  So let me clarify:

Close examination of the OEM Owners’ Manuals shows that engine oils must meet the API/SAE Service Grade requirements that the OEM states.  Continue reading

May 23, 2009 Posted by | Amsoil, Fleet, Lubrication Oils & Fluids, Scamsoil, Synthetic Oil | , , , , , , | 5 Comments