Petroleum Quality Institute of America

The Petroleum Quality Institute of America (PQIA) is an independent resource for information and insights on the quality and performance of lubricants in the marketplace.  Our mission is to serve the consumer of lubricants by reporting on the quality and integrity of lubricants in themarketplace.

 

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A National Surveyof  Lubricant Industry Stakeholders

2012 - DIFM Labeling

This report summarizes responses to a survey conducted by the Petroleum Quality Institute of America (PQIA) dealing with the information provided to consumers when they purchase engine oil from such Do-it-for-Me installers as fast lubes, new car dealers and others.

 HIGHLIGHTS OF THE FINDINGS

 1.      The survey reveals overwhelming support for sellers of engine oils to provide customers with documentation on the brand, viscosity grade and API service classification for the engine oils sold in the installed class of trade. In fact, 89.6% of the survey respondents say they currently do provide such documentation for the products they sell.

 2.      Another interesting and very telling takeaway from the survey is that 90% of those in our industry responding to the survey would not have their car serviced with engine oil without knowing the brand, viscosity grade, and API Service Classification of the product used. They say consumers have a right to this information to protect them from fraud and product misrepresentation. In addition, such information is critical to assuring their warranties remain intact. 

3.      The results of the survey indicate strong support for the National Conference on Weights and Measures amendments to the National Institute of Standards and Technology Handbook 130 as it relates to bulk motor oil sales. The amendments, which become enforceable on July 1, 2013, require retail installers to provide the SAE viscosity grade, API Service Classification, and lubricant brand on customer invoices for oil change services. In addition, the amendment will require a cautionary statement on bulk tanks and invoices when the motor used to service a vehicle does not meet an active API service category.

 BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE

The Petroleum Quality Institute of America conducted a survey completed by 161 industry participants, including major oil companies, independent lubricant manufacturers, lubricant additive suppliers, and others, in September 2012. The purpose of the survey was to gather opinions from lubricant industry stakeholders about the labeling of bulk lubricants at Do-it-for-me (DIFM) outlets (e.g. fast lubes, new car dealers) and the documentation such outlets should provide to their customers.  

RESEARCH METHODOLOGY 

The PQIA online survey was conducted between September 6 and September 28, 2012.  The survey comprised qualitative questions about the information provided to consumers when they have their oil changed at DIFM outlets.  

Great care has been taken to preserve the anonymity of survey participants. In addition, responses were filtered to remove company specific comments.   

DEMOGRAPHICS 

Survey participants included 161 respondents; 45% are lubricant marketers/distributors, and 14% each are major oil companies and independent lubricant manufacturers. The balance is additive companies, installers, and others.  

SURVEY RESULTS 

The following are the results of the survey, including links to verbatim responses to two open-ended questions.  

1 - Would you have your car serviced with engine oil without knowing the brand, viscosity grade, and API Service Classification of the product used? 

The majority, nearly 91%, of stakeholders in the lubricants business would not have their car serviced with engine oil without knowing the brand, viscosity grade, and API Service Classification of the product used. Of the few who would, they say they would if they trusted the installer and/or had previously relationships with them.  

 

2- How important is it that fast lube operators include the following information on the invoices/bills they provide to their customers? 

The majority of respondents to the PQIA survey believe that lubricant brand, viscosity grade, and the API Service Classification are important for fast lube operators to include on invoices they provide to their customers.  Whereas identification of brand is considered important to include on a customer’s invoice, it’s generally considered less important than the SAE viscosity grade, and the API Service Category. This is because some say the brand name is tied more to marketing than performance. At the same time, customers should know the brand of the oil used to service their vehicle. 

 

 3- Do you provide your customers with documentation as to the brand, SAE Grade and API Service Classification of the engine oil you sell them?

By far, the majority of respondents to the PQIA survey say they provide documentation to their customers on the brand, SAE viscosity grade, and API Service category for the engine oils they sell. And for the few that don’t, most say they would be more than glad to provide such information upon request.

 

4- If an API obsolete engine oil is used to service an older car, should the fast lube operator tell its customer that the oil is "obsolete?" If not, why?

 

Eighty seven percent of survey respondents say a fast lube operator should advise its customers if engine oil deemed “Obsolete” by the API is used to service their vehicle. Many comment that all current oils are backward compatible so stocking obsolete products is unnecessary.  

 

 

Of the few who feel it is not necessary to advise consumers when obsolete oils are used, they generally say it doesn’t matter as long as the oil used meets the requirements for the make and model of the vehicles being serviced.

 

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5- Should sellers (manufacturers, marketers, installers) of engine oils provide their customers with documentation on the brand, viscosity grade and API service classification for the engine oils they sell?

 

Ninety one percent of the respondents to the survey say sellers (manufacturers, marketers, installers) of engine oils should provide their customers with documentation on the brand, viscosity grade and API service classification for the engine oils they sell.

 

As to why they should , 33% of survey respondents say it’s the consumer’s right to know the SAE viscosity grade, API Service classification, and brand of engine oil is used to service their car. Further, 20% say that providing such information will help reduce fraud and misrepresentation of products sold.

 

It should also be pointed out that 10% of survey respondents say such information should be provided for warranty protection. Consumers have little to no recourse if something goes bad with their engine and they cannot document the type of oil used to service their car.

 

 

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Figure 5

 

Why sellers (manufacturers, marketers, installers) of engine oils should provide their customers with documentation on the brand, viscosity grade and API service classification for the engine oils they sell.