ARTICLES

Is There a New MVAC Regulation in Your Future?

Motor vehicle air conditioning (MVAC) is an almost universal part of the modern automotive scene. When the temperature is over 100 F, or even when the temperature is 20 F (aids in defogging windows), your air conditioning system (AC) is vital to passenger comfort and safety. What changes could be coming? Surprisingly, the basic concept of AC was first noted by none other than Ben Franklin. In a recent piece from The Mobile Air Conditioning Society Blog it was reported that in the mid-1750s, Franklin was experimenting with using a vacuum to evaporate liquid ether and reported a significant
Read More

After The Warranty Expires

Do Customers Still Have to Use the OEM Recommended Oil? OEM recommendations have forced auto maintenance and fast lube shops to carry multiple oil brands, which can be cost prohibitive. Many of those affected have chosen to be brand specific in order to have availability of the required products. It’s either that or have a very large inventory of seldom used product. The question asked over and over is, “After the warranty, do I still have to use OEM recommendation?” Customers are feeling frustrated and confused, especially with the prices of the synthetic oils that are being recommended. So
Read More

How Did We Get to dexos?

What You Need to Know About GM’s Motor Oil Spec General Motors’ dexos brand of engine oil has been out since 2011. The question many have is why GM developed their own oil specification. After all, they are members of the International Lubricant Specification Advisory Committee (ILSAC) group of automotive OEMs. They have sponsored API GF series engine oils, which includes the current API GF-5, as well as the more familiar API service categories, the most recent of which is API SN and SN-RC. This all started back in 2009 when GM started to analyze their resource issues with
Read More

AmazonBasics: A New Player in the Oil Market?

By now you may have heard about AmazonBasics, the new engine oil brand available on, you guessed it, Amazon. First introduced in late July and prominently featured on Amazon’s oil page, AmazonBasics is a synthetic engine oil with API SN Plus and GF-5 credentials. It comes in three viscosity grades: SAE 0W-20, SAE 5W-20 and SAE 5W-30. In addition, it carries dexos1 gen 2 approval. It is featured with the big names (Pennzoil, Mobil1, Castrol, etc.) in synthetic engine oil marketing. Although marketed as AmazonBasics, this product is actually a rebrand from Warren Distribution in Omaha, Nebraska. The concept
Read More

Ford Chooses API FA-4 for New Small Diesels

The world of so-called “light duty” diesels is getting more complex. Any auto manufacturer with diesel options either has their own oil, such as GM’s dexos2, or is specifying the oils to be used based on the recommendation of the engine builder, such as Cummins, who specifies API CK-4 for its engines. All of this is the result of the introduction of API CK-4/FA-4 in December of 2016. Since these categories have been introduced, there have been over 800 licenses granted for CK-4 but less than 100 for FA-4. It seems logical that FA-4 would be the product of
Read More

Putting a Failed Engine Test Under the Microscope

API CK-4 has been in the market since December of 2016 and has replaced a large portion of the heavy-duty engine oil (HDEO) market, which had been ruled by API CJ-4. There were several changes to the performance requirements of CK-4 vs. CJ-4. In addition to tightened limits on some bench tests, such as volatility and shear stability, two new engine tests, the Volvo T-13 and the Caterpillar Oil Aeration Test, were added. One engine test, the Sequence IIIG, was removed. The Volvo T-13 is a diesel engine test that measures oxidation resistance of the engine oil. It replaced
Read More

Smart Pouring: Why it is Important to Stick to the OEM Recommended Viscosity

We’ve all been taught that the single most important property of any lubricant is viscosity. Why is that? Since the four primary purposes of an engine oil are: 1. Lubricate, 2. Clean, 3. Cool and 4. Protect, it stands to reason that the proper viscosity will maximize lubricant performance in all four aspects. But what happens when the proper viscosity isn’t used? If the viscosity is too low, the critical surfaces in an engine will be subjected to increased metal-to-metal contact. That would mean increased friction and wear. It also might cause engines to run hotter. On an operational
Read More

Will We Return to Individual Oils for Vehicles?

About 50 years ago, the motor oil business was based on individual OEM requirements. Ford, General Motors and Chrysler had special tests they required in addition to what was then known as the MS tests. It made for additional complexity in supplying oil to dealers and do-it-yourselfers. That’s when API devised the forerunner to the current system, which sets a category based on what the OEMs and oil marketers can work out through discussions and test development. In 1992, a further modification to the process was developed and is what we now follow. The process is documented in API
Read More

How Many Flushes?

The first thing I need to state is that this is not a plumbing discussion. Rather, it deals with a question that many have raised about flushing engines, cooling systems and transmissions. There are many good reasons to flush any of these systems. New engines run more efficiently, but over time, they gather harmful deposits that cause power and performance loss. Stop-and-go driving, prolonged idling, short trips that do not allow the engine to reach full operating temperature, towing, the ingestion of airborne dirt, fuel dilution, water condensation and oxidized oil all can promote sludge build-up in motors. As
Read More

On the Cusp of Change: SN+, 0W-16, GF-6 and More

The current status of motor oils in the U.S. market is getting confusing. Let’s see if we can sort it all out and give you the background you need to provide your customers with the service they need. Current Specs & Backward Compatibility The American Petroleum Institute (API) sets standards for engine oils. These standards are designed to protect the engines in cars and trucks. Currently, the API category recommended for cars and light trucks is API SN. Because of the way the API categories are developed, the most recent category is compatible with older engines. This is known
Read More

Considerations When Growing Your Business

There's good news and less than good news in the automotive care business these days. The good news is that folks are keeping their vehicles longer. The average age of cars and light trucks on the road is pushing 12 years. There are several reasons for this, but one that is significant is the initial cost of a vehicle - second only to the cost of a home. The longer they keep them, the more maintenance they'll require. Auto manufacturers can take a bow here, as well. The quality of construction, as well as fit and finish is at
Read More

Water: We Love It and Hate It

It would be pretty safe to say that 2017 was the year of natural disasters. Houston, Florida and Puerto Rico all had monumental levels of rainfall that created havoc for automobiles and trucks. On the flip side, California and the West had fires that caused untold millions in damage and not a drop of water left to put them out. One recent fire, the Thomas Fire on the California central coast, is the largest fire in California history. What happens to lubricants under such trying conditions? In the case of fire, it's doubtful that any lube will survive, let
Read More

CVT Fluids, What's the Score

Prior to 2000, about 80 percent of the automatic transmission fluid (ATF) market was covered by General Motors’ Dexron III, Ford’s Mercon or Chrysler’s ATF +4 standards and specifications. It was easy for an installer, mechanic or do-it-yourselfer to figure out which one to use for makeup or replacement fluid. Lubricant marketers only had to carry a couple of aftermarket fluids to meet a majority of the demands. Today, Dexron III/Mercon fluids are gone, replaced by Dexron VI and Mercon LV. In addition, they account for less than 50 percent of the aftermarket use. OEM-specific fluids with special requirements
Read More