The Petroleum Quality Institute of America tested four brands of 5W-30 motor oil (three synthetics and one conventional). The results of the tests conducted on samples of the brands meet the SAE J300 specifications for the SAE Viscosity Grade listed on the product label, and are consistent with the listed API Service Categories.
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SPIRIT OIL MD-III
Are you putting motor oil in your transmission or transmission fluid in your engine?
There is a lubricant currently on the shelves in the Midwest that has caught the attention of the Petroleum Quality Institute of America (PQIA), and for good reason. The product is Spirit Oil MD-III from Spirit Oil Company and it is a product PQIA recommends consumers DON’T BUY. The front label on the product identifies it as “MD-III Semi Synthetic Blend Motor Oil SN-GF5 Conventional.” In addition, the front label displays the API Certification mark and also states “MD-III Meets: SL, SJ, CF-2, CD-11 Specifications.” It does not, however, display an SAE viscosity grade.
PQIA issues a DON’T BUY on this product and here’s why.
To anyone even somewhat familiar with motor oil specifications, the front label is at best confusing.
Starting at the top, the prominent display of the term “MD-III” could be interpreted to mean it’s an automatic transmission fluid (ATF) formulated for use in vehicles recommending Dexron III/Mercon type ATF. This is because it is not unusual to see similar nomenclature on bottles of transmission fluid. But assuming consumers take the time to read on, it appears this product is not a transmission fluid since the label states, bold and in all caps, “SEMI SYNTHETIC BLEND MOTOR OIL.” Further, the words “For Petrol Engines” appears in the API Certification mark and the label displays API Engine Oil Service Categories (both gasoline and diesel). So with that, even if confused by the “MD-III,” the rest of the label says we are looking at a motor oil. But there is more.
While the label clearly states, in all caps and bold font, that it is a “SEMI SYNTHETIC BLEND” it also prominently states it’s a “Conventional” motor oil. Understanding it can’t be both, one might turn to the back label to learn more, and when they do, it gets even more confusing and concerning.
The back label prominently displays the letters “ATF” in red at the top, right over the term “MD-III.” Further, the balance of the language on the label identifies the product as an automatic transmission fluid, not an engine oil. At the same time, the API Certification mark, with “For Petrol Engines” is also on the back label. In addition, the label reads, “Spirit Oil API Certified, synthetic blend, multi vehicle automotive transmission fluid is specially formulated with a unique combination of API certified motor oil and advanced additive technology. This will ensure high performance in the latest automatic transmissions vehicles. Spirit Oil uses a licensed GM DEXRON III additive.”
So here we are, back to square one, is it an ATF or is it a motor oil? And although even more questions and concerns about this product arise from its claim to use “licensed GM DEXRON III additive” and to be an “API Certified, synthetic blend multi vehicle automotive transmission fluid,” along with other language issues on the label, enough has been said to make it clear this is not a product consumers should buy. If they do, buyer beware, they could be using a transmission fluid in their engine, or an engine oil in their transmission. And in the event they experience engine or transmission damage when using this product, they will have a hard time taking the manufacturer to task. This is because although the law requires manufacturers to include the name and address of the responsible party on the label, the label on this product fails to do so.
Please notify PQIA if you see this product on the shelf.