The independent resource for information and insights on the quality and performance of lubricants in the marketplace.
With few exceptions, the lubricants business is fundamentally self monitored. In other words, the quality of engine oils, transmission fluids, gear oils, and most other lubricants are not regulated by government standards and authorities. Instead, it is established and monitored by lubricant manufacturers, marketers, and trade associations. But PQIA changes this...
Prior to PQIA, there were three entities working to assure the quality of lubricants in the marketplace. These include:
- Engine Oil Licensing and Certification System (EOLCS)
- American Petroleum Institute's After Market Audit Program (AMAP).
PQIA says: The API is an industry trade organization who serves the interests of their oil company members. Whereas the AMAP program is reasonably effective in monitoring the quality of engine oils in the market, it has limitations. First, it does not audit unlicensed engine oils. This is a particularly significant issue due to the proliferation of unlicensed products in the field. The second limitation is that the auditing is not random. Instead, the number of samples audited is a function of the marketer's sales volume. This means the majors are audited more frequently than independent lubricant manufacturers and marketers of private label engine oils. Another limitation is the amount of time it takes for API's to interact with a company that fails part of a test battery. The process can take several months and during that time, the product batch in question may have already been totally consumed by the marketplace. And finally, the identity of failing products are not revealed and all discussions and negotiations with the manufacturers are kept private.
- ILMA Code of Ethics
PQIA says: ILMA's Code of Ethics works well to protect the interest of the association members and to establish standards of professional conduct. These standards include assuring that products comply with industry specifications. Whereas, ILMA's Code of Ethics is effective, it's effectiveness is also limited for a number of reasons. One is that ILMA's code of ethics only applies to companies that are members of the association. Not all lubricant manufacturers are. In addition, violations to the code of ethics by members (including those involving product quality) are addressed only between ILMA and the violating member. No information about the violation or its resolution, if any, are made public.
North Carolina is the only state with an oil inspection program and its audits are limited to the state. The program is supported by part of the state gasoline tax.
PQIA says: The North Carolina Program is very effective. The State has the authority to demand product recalls, and they have. In addition, the State makes information public about violators. Such information is often picked up by the media and this too helps make the public aware of specific company and product issues. As good as it is, however, this program is limited to the State of North Carolina.
Whereas the API, ILMA, and the State of North Carolina should be commended for their efforts to assure the quality of lubricants from their specific perspective, these efforts fall short of assuring the integrity and quality of lubricants in the US marketplace. Our job is not to do what these other fine organizations already do – our job is to do what they don’t do, with an unwavering eye on the interests of the lubricant consumer.