PQIA in Action!

City Star Motor Oil Ordered Off the Shelves

The Petroleum Quality Institute of America (PQIA) applauds the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services for taking action to remove one of the bad actors in motor oil from store shelves. North Carolina officials last week ordered that three grades of City Star Motor Oil be removed from retail stores throughout the state because of the manufacturer's failure to meet stated viscosity claims.


PQIA publicly exposed significant issues with City Star engine oil last month when it purchased a bottle of City Star 5W-30 motor oil from a retail store in Gary, Indiana. PQIA's independent analysis of this oil showed that its viscosity was 74 percent below the minimum specification required for a 5W-30 oil and, in fact, was so thin that it's use could actually damage car engines. Furthermore, the sample that PQIA analyzed contained none of the additives necessary to protect engines from wear, corrosion, and sludge. The product did not meet any recognized specifications for motor oil, yet the label proclaimed to unsuspecting consumers that it was "a quality motor oil, refined and distilled by the latest method" and that it "provides efficient lubrication in many types of service." Clearly these claims are false and misleading.


As troubling as the City Star example is, it is not alone. PQIA has found several other brands of motor oil for sale in Ohio, Michigan, and New York that have raised serious quality concerns similar to City Star. In fact, one of these inferior oils, Bullseye, was the primary brand of motor oil sold at a store affiliated with a major gas station brand, and it is also offered in many other states at convenience and grocery stores.


PQIA has issued Advisories and Alerts for more than a dozen additional oils that failed to meet their stated specifications or claims or that were otherwise unsuitable for use in modern vehicles. These oils were purchased at retail stores in California, Georgia, New Jersey, Illinois, Nevada, Maryland, West Virginia, and South Carolina.  


In an effort to protect consumers, PQIA notified the Ohio and Michigan attorneys general several months ago about some particularly egregious oils purchased in those states. However, the AGs have so far ignored PQIA requests for corrective action. The Michigan AG's office did not respond at all. The Ohio AG's office replied that these quality issues are indeed troubling but cannot take action at this time due to resource constraints. Although PQIA appreciates the Ohio AG's comments suggesting that corrective action might be taken in the future, PQIA remains very concerned that automobile engines will be damaged by some engine oils currently sold in Ohio and other states while consumers wait.


A car is the second highest cost item purchased by hard working Americans, and protecting this investment is a high priority for most. PQIA serves consumers by publicly exposing low quality oils and working with state agencies to get these products off the shelves.


Once again, the Petroleum Quality Institute of America applauds North Carolina for its work in protecting consumers from low-quality off-specification engine oil.



The Petroleum Quality Institute of America is able to serve buyers and consumers of lubricants in part through the generous support of lubricant manufacturers, marketers, and others. Please contact us at the link below if you too would like to sponsor PQIA's efforts to help assure the quality of lubricants in the marketplace.
Click here to contact us about how you can help supporter PQIA's efforts
or call us at


PQIA’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.


The Petroleum Quality Institute of America (PQIA) Code of Ethical Business Conduct (Code) is the cornerstone of the PQIA initiative as it clearly and strictly defines the standards by which PQIA and its management, employees, and supporter (“Supporters”) will conduct business in the lubricants marketplace.  
Code of Ethical Business Conduct

The Petroleum Quality Institute of America's Advisory Board comprises a distinguished group of professionals with prominence in a broad range of fields in the lubricants business.

The role of the Advisory Board is to provide PQIA's management with guidance, advice, recommendations and counsel in how to best pursue PQIA's purpose and mission.
Click here for AB Members