It is very important to feed your engine with the right motor oil. It’s one of those strategic decisions that may seem relatively insignificant at the time, but lead to consequential long term implications. Get it wrong and you’ll see the resultant slump- deterioration in performance, excess component wear and severe operational issues. The safest bet perhaps is to go with the manufacturer’s recommendations; all new vehicles come with a recommended kind of lubricant in the manual which is shown essentially in the form of a numerical grade. The SAE has devised a viscosity grade to ascertain the resistance of oil to flow at given temperatures. However, the problem here is that the oil industry is self-certifying. While the SAE defines the specifications, it is up to the manufacturers to make sure that the products they put out meet them. This has led many companies to misinform the truth about their product.
This is where the API steps in to strengthen the trust of the consumers in the oil that they are purchasing. It has laid out a stringent list of specifications that the manufacturers must conform to in order to earn the API certification. This leads to strict quality control measures and high compliance to industry standards on the manufacturer’s end. It also helps the manufacturers to get recognized for their product quality and set their product apart from other non-complying products available in the market. The API donut symbol works as a clear physical marker for customers to distinguish between licensed and unlicensed brands. However the buyers of motor oils must be wary of unlicensed brands that use deceptive terminology on their packaging in reference to API such as “approved,” “accredited,” “endorsed,” “qualified,” “verified,” “meets specifications” etc. Improper labeling, unauthorized marks, and inaccurate information are some malpractices prevalent in the marketplace. Therefore, buyer discretion is of paramount importance while purchasing lube; don’t be fooled by less reputable, cheap selling brands even if they claim to comply with API standards. If a lesser-known product is selling at a price much lower than the well-known brands, it forms a valid ground for suspicion. As an informed customer, learn to ask the right questions- if it’s too good to be true, then it probably is. A compromise on oil quality can be a very expensive proposition in the long run though it may seem to be a tempting way to save a few bucks in the short term.
Only the oil makers approved by API’s EOLCS (engine oil licensing and certification system) are authorized to use the API engine oil quality marks. This API approval is followed up with a system of regular monitoring and enforcement to ensure consistency and compliance. The licensed oils are subjected to random market checks by API wherein they procure samples from the market and undertake lab testing to verify that it matches the formulation on file as well as the program specifications. Product packages are checked too, to make sure they correctly display the API marks. A failure to demonstrate compliance in this test can lead to grave consequences amounting to termination of the license or even removal of the product from the market. This is how the licensing system holds the manufacturer responsible for the integrity of the brand name and quality of the branded product in the marketplace. Unocal is proud to be among the handful of Indian brands to have the API approval.