• Karolena Serratos

Buyer Beware: Motor Oils


My last post helped clarify the importance of regular oil changes and touched briefly on reading the oil bottle and consulting your owner’s manual. However, I want to emphasize the importance of physically locating the American Petroleum Institute (API) logo on the bottle.

I recently stumbled across an update from an old story posted originally in December 2013 where a New Jersey report had exposed inferior oils to the public. In one case a gas station was selling bottles of oil that clearly stated not ‘suitable for use in most gasoline-powered automotive engines built after 1930. Use in modern engines may cause unsatisfactory engine performance or equipment harm’ directly on the bottle. The same gas station was then selling oil with a viscosity range… 5-30 versus 5W30.

Unfortunately, just because you are purchasing the oil from a well-known gas station does not protect you from possibility of purchasing an inferior quart of oil, as it is the decision of the independent gas station operators for any items sold in the store, like motor oil.

Luckily, for those who live in Michigan, North Carolina, New Jersey, Missouri, Alabama and Georgia; you all may enjoy peace of mind because the state governments in those states are banning the sale of inferior oils. For the rest of us, be sure to look for the API logo on the bottle. The American Petroleum Institute has two distinct logos in which API-licensed companies may place on their bottles. The first being the API Service Symbol ‘Donut’ and the second the API Certification mark ‘Starburst’.

Look for a Sign

The API Service Symbol ‘Donut’ may be broken down into three sections. The top half describing oil performance level, the center specifies the viscosity and the bottom half discloses if the oil has energy conserving properties. (It is from my understanding and research that an individual gasoline vehicle owner may not notice the gasoline savings denoted on oil marked ‘energy conserving’ so do not worry if this section is blank.)

API Certification mark ‘Starburst’ identify engine oils per application, like gasoline service. In order for an oil to be licensed to receive the ‘Starburst’ it must meet the current minimum requirements of the ILSAC (International Lubricant Standardization and Approval Committee).


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