API Standards and Programs Provide Benefits and Protections to Shop Owners and Operators

There is more to the Engine Oil Licensing and Certification System (EOLCS) than developing and licensing engine oils. There are a number of other programs that benefit shop owners and operators by providing protection and monitoring programs.

Guest column by Jeffrey Harmening, American Petroleum Institute, Manager – EOLCS/DEF/MOM

The American Petroleum Institute (API) works across the auto industry to develop motor oil standards that meet changing lubrication demands as engine technology advances. We have been licensing engine oils for almost four decades through the Engine Oil Licensing and Certification System (EOLCS). However, there is more to EOLCS than developing and licensing engine oils. There are a number of other programs that benefit shop owners and operators by providing protection and monitoring programs.

Engine Oil Licensing and Certification System

The most recognizable program from EOLCS is the voluntary licensing and certification program that authorizes engine oil marketers that meet specified requirements to use the API Engine Oil Quality Marks. API 1509 – Engine Oil Licensing and Certification System has recently been updated and contains the latest standards and marketing guidelines for API Engine Oil Quality Marks. It governs how engine oil marketers certify that gasoline and diesel engine oils meet API’s stringent performance standards. The certification system provides assurance that shops, vehicle dealers and consumers are receiving the high-quality motor oil they are expecting.

Aftermarket Audit Program

The API Aftermarket Audit Program (AMAP) supports the licensing and certification program through the sampling of API-licensed oils in the marketplace. Samples are tested to verify compliance with engine oil specifications. This ensures that oil marketers, distributors, shops and consumers can have confidence in the quality of API-licensed motor oils in the marketplace. 

API-licensed engine oils are purchased in packages and from bulk tanks in the marketplace and tested to determine their physical, chemical, and performance properties. The results are compared to the formulations submitted by the licensed oil marketer to API. Conforming oils will show test results that are consistent with the formulations on file with API and meet the API specifications claimed as well as all other EOLCS program requirements. Key elements of the program include:

  • To confirm the oil quality, all oil samples undergo elemental analysis and testing for required properties, which include viscosity at 100°C, high-temperature/high-shear testing, cold cranking, pumpability and volatility. 
  • At regular intervals, the oils may also be tested for foaming properties, shear stability and oxidation, among others. 
  • Product packages are inspected to make sure they correctly display the API Marks, comply with licensing requirements and carry product traceability codes.

If a licensed oil does not match the physical and chemical data on file, API will work with the licensee to evaluate all nonconformances and take appropriate corrective action. Unresolved nonconformance issues are subject to additional enforcement actions. Actions may include termination of the license to display the API Marks and recall of noncomplying product from the marketplace.

Counterfeit Oils

We also investigate oils that falsely claim to be certified by API. Unscrupulous manufacturers producing low quality oils may add API marks to confuse distributors, shops, retailers and consumers. API hosts an Unauthorized Oil listing of oils which are not licensed by API and displays product labels.  This listing is continuously updated as API works with infringing companies to remove their unauthorized products from the marketplace and alter their marketing materials accordingly.

Motor Oil Matters

Motor Oil Matters (MOM), API’s program for licensing the rest of the engine oil supply chain, provides benefits for distributors, installers and their customers. MOM-licensed oil-change locations and distributors certify that they meet the API 1525A standard which provides bulk oil chain-of-custody and quality documentation guidelines throughout the supply chain. MOM participants also commit to dispensing oils meeting API performance  standards and permit API to periodically sample and test bulk oils from their shop. MOM provides protection and assurance for you and strengthens your reputation with your customers. Information about all the benefits of MOM can be found at MotorOilMatters.org 

The standards and programs established by API are continuously evaluated and updated as needed with input from OEMs, oil marketers, distributors, shop owners and other stakeholders in the industry. This helps assure shop operators that they are getting high-quality oil that will meet the needs of their customers’ engines. 

If you have questions or need additional information, contact the API Engine Oil Licensing and Certification System (EOLCS) at eolcs@api.org


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