Jeffrey Harmening, Manager
Diesel engine oil has a big job to do given the tight tolerances of today’s emissions compliant engines. In addition to lubricating parts, it helps prevent wear, allows the truck’s engine to operate at peak efficiency and helps regulates engine temperature. For years the American Petroleum Institute’s Engine Oil Licensing and Certification System has identified marketers that manufacture and sell oils meetings API standards. Now through its Motor Oil Matters program, distributors and service providers that deliver and install oil will be eligible to be licensed and certified.
According to Kevin Ferrick, engine oil licensing and certification systems manager at API, it’s not always as obvious to identify the quality of motor oil sold in bulk as is that sold in bottles. Theoretically bills of lading for bulk oil should include the brand and viscosity grade of oil, but API has found out during its inspections that that is not always true.
“It is really important that anybody who is taking delivery, whether that is a service provider or a consumer, ask what they are getting,” he says. And they should ask for documentation that verifies the claim.
API took over the Motor Oil Matters program from Shell in 2011. “We are converting it into an industry-wide effort. We are trying to provide some standardization on how bulk product is being handled so that distributors, installers and customers know exactly what oil they are getting,” Ferrick says. Basically the program seeks to develop and document a chain of custody for the oil. This chain of custody will allow API, if it finds a problem during an inspection, to have better recourse for correcting the problem.
The new program is just for oil distributors and installers — a program already exists for marketers. In order to be certified and licensed, distributors and installers will have to demonstrate that they handled the product in a certain manner, Ferrick explains. “That means their documentation will have to include brand, viscosity grade and API performance level. The documentation needs to follow from the point of manufacture, so from the oil marketer itself, to the distributor to the installer to the consumer.”
More specifically, when an auditor comes to a site once a distributor or installer has applied for certification, he will look for the following:
The main goal of the licensing program, according to Ferrick, is to make sure consumers are protected. “We want to make sure they get what they expect to get. In addition, there are a lot of good companies out there that work hard to safeguard the quality of their product and we want to identify and reward them for that dedication.”
API hopes to launch the licensing program this fall, and will then develop a searchable database of certified and licensed motor oil distributors and installers.
“Our hope is that this will give consumers a little more faith in the location they are going to, to give them a little more assurance that they are getting a quality product,” he says.
Dealers who become licensed installers can promote that fact and Ferrick says API hopes the database directory will help drive traffic to the dealer’s locations. “It is an acknowledgement that they provide the right type of product and can give consumers some peace of mind.”