PQIA Certified Motor Oil Program

The Petroleum Quality Institute of America (PQIA) is an independent organization with a mission to serve consumers of lubricants. The firm does so by testing and reporting on the quality and integrity of lubricants in the marketplace and by certifying motor oil manufacturers and marketers.

The PQIA Motor Oil Certification Program helps assure lubricant manufacturers and distributors meet good manufacturing standards. In addition to helping assure motor oils are manufactured in accordance with good business practices (GBP), the PQIA Certification Program helps assure motor oils are right for consumers. This means they meet critical specifications, are not labeled deceptively, display appropriate API Service Symbols and/or Certification Marks, and include any cautionary statements specified in the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) Standard J183.

The Petroleum Quality Institute of America does not warrant the quality or acceptability of motor oils manufactured or marketed by PQIA Certified Facilities. Experience shows, however, that manufacturers and marketers which voluntarily participate in the PQIA Certification Program adhere to Good Business Practices (GBP) and the highest quality standards.

The PQIA Certification Process

All PQIA Certified Motor Oil Suppliers agree to the PQIA Code of Ethical Business Conduct (CODE), provide access to manufacturing and packaging facilities for PQIA plant audits and random and periodic sampling and testing of bulk and packaged lubricants.

The PQIA Motor Oil Certification process comprises five steps:

  • Application and Code: The first phase is an evaluation of the candidate’s PQIA application for certification. This includes the applicant’s signed agreement that it complies with the PQIA Code of Ethical Business Conduct (CODE). This is followed by a pre-audit.

  •  Pre-Audit: The pre-audit looks to assure the applicant is in compliance with the PQIA CODE. In doing so, PQIA conducts an in-depth review of the applicant’s motor oil API licenses and an examination of the applicant’s website, product literature, and product claims. In addition, a search is conducted to determine if the company’s motor oils are subject to any Stop-Use Order, Stop-Removal Order, or any other action by any state authority to restrict or ban sales.

  • Facility(s) Audit: Assuming a PQIA Certification applicant meets the requirements of the first two phases of the process, PQIA conducts an audit of the applicant’s facility(s).

  • Sampling and Testing: The fourth and ongoing stage of the PQIA Certification Audit Process is to obtain a random sampling of bulk motor oils and packaged products from the candidate’s blend plant(s) and/or warehouse. Samples collected by PQIA are sent to a third party, ISO 9001:2008 certified laboratory for analysis. Laboratory test results are reviewed and assessed by PQIA to determine if they meet SAE J300 viscosity claims and are representative of the claimed API/ILSAC performance level.

  • Report: Following completion of the audit, PQIA reviews the audit findings to determine eligibility and submits a confidential report to the applicant either confirming compliance with PQIA’s standards or summarizing deficiencies. In the event of deficiencies, (pre- or post- audit) the applicant has a 60-day opportunity to address the issues and provide PQIA with evidence that the deficiencies have been resolved. In the absence of such documentation, PQIA reserves the right to deny or retract certifications.

Benefits of Certification

Certified companies are authorized to apply the PQIA Certification Mark on their motor oil packaging and marketing material. The PQIA Mark shows that the manufacturer and/or marketer’s facility(s) have been audited by PQIA, the company has agreed to the PQIA CODE of ethical Business Conduct, and a sampling of its motor oils have undergone evaluation and testing.  The PQIA Mark provides installers and consumers a very simple way to recognize quality motor oil products. Further, the PQIA Certification Program conducts annual inspections to verify the manufacturers and/or marketers comply with PQIA standards.


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