New Oil Labeling Requirements
Effective July 1, 2013, the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s new oil labeling convention took effect in many states. (Although, currently not all states have adopted these regulations. Each operator should check with their state agency to determine whether the new standards apply.) The regulations require oil distributors to include adequate oil descriptions on their invoices to operators. They also place responsibility on the operator to ensure invoices carry the appropriate language for the consumer.
What does this mean specifically for operators? Basically, it means many operators need to “clean up” their oil descriptions.
I have worked with hundreds of operators and have seen countless variations of oil line-item descriptions on customer invoices. Some invoices simply describe “Motor Oil” without brand name or SAE viscosity grade classification. Others include only limited brand detail like “Rotella” without distinguishing T Triple Protection, T5 synthetic blend or T6 Full Synthetic. These and countless other examples do not fulfill the requirement to fully inform the customer as to the oil installed in their vehicle.
Below is a summary of the requirements:
• Name, brand, trademark or trade name of the motor oil
• Viscosity grade classification preceded by the letters SAE
• Type of oil, and the API and ILSAC designations
• Obsolete oil is also required to be labeled as such
A further challenge for operators is providing the description within the amount of space allowed by their point-of-sale system. Fortunately, the Bureau of Weights and Measures allows use of abbreviations, so long as they are deemed to be discernible. A full description of Pennzoil Gold SAE 10W-30 API SN ILSAC GF-5 could be abbreviated as “PZL GLD SAE 10W-30 SN GF-5” or even “PZLGLDSAE10W30SNGF-5.” Shell Rotella T Triple Protection 15W-40 could be shortened to “SH RTLA T3 SAE 15W-40 CJ-4.” Operators may need to work with their local bureau to clarify the definition of discernible.
Brand listings need to be specific. For example, listing the brand Pennzoil will not suffice. The description needs to include detail such as Ultra, Platinum, Gold, high-mileage or conventional. In this case, Ultra and Platinum designate the oil as synthetic. Gold signifies a synthetic-blend and, of course, high-mileage and conventional are self-descriptive.
The letters “SAE” must be listed in the description. However, the letters “API” and “ILSAC” are not required, because it is believed there is enough general understanding of the API rating and ILSAC. Alternately, operators may configure inventory items with the API and ILSAC information as the description, such as API SN ILSAC GF-5 and attach it to each oil meeting that specification.
It may take more than one line on the invoice to fully describe your oil without confusing your customers. Using the above example, the oil could be described as follows:
Pennzoil Gold SAE 10W-30
API SN ILSAC GF-5
Finally, it is important to properly designate obsolete oil. Any oils with an API classification of SH or earlier are currently considered obsolete and must be labeled as such. On the diesel side, anything classified CG-4 and earlier is considered obsolete.