The results of the tests conducted on samples of the brands below meet the SAE J300 specifications for the SAE Viscosity Grade listed on the product label, and are consistent with the listed API Service Categories.
It should be noted, however, that the Par Mar API SN product does not display the API certification mark (donut) showing that it is an API licensed product.
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Read the Labels When Buying Motor Oil
The Petroleum Quality Institute of America (PQIA) heard from a number of readers after we published results on October 24th for the most recent SAE 5W-30 motor oils PQIA examined, and their comments shared common concerns. The first concern is why there are motor oils currently in the market labeled with API Service Categories no more recent than API SJ and SL.
In the views of some, such products should not be on retail shelves alongside with API SN motor oils. This is because they can easily be perceived by a reasonable consumer to meet the same specification as the majority of other motor oils in the market. Further, they say, since API SN motor oils are backward compatible, there is little reason to sell anything less, and by doing so may confuse the consumer.
The second concern focused on the fact that although some of the motor oils tested have labels with language that suggests the products meet an API Service Category (i.e. formulated to meet…), they do not explicitly state the product does, and/or does not display the API Donut certifying that it is licensed. Although there are no laws requiring that a motor oil is licensed by the API trade association, such licensing provides a level of assurance that the oil meets the performance requirements set by the API and subject to quality testing conducted by API’s Aftermarket Audit Program (AMAP).
The PQIA understands and shares the concerns expressed by its readers, and has and will continue to bring attention to these issues and work with the industry and others in an effort to address them.
At the same time, it remains very important for consumers to refer to their owner’s manual to determine what motor oil specifications their vehicle requires and match those requirements with the specifications on the label of the bottles they purchase. These specifications include SAE Viscosity Grade, API Service Category, and any applicable performance specifications specific to the vehicle manufacturer (i.e. General Motor’s dexos®).