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Is all API Rated Oil Safe To Use?

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Is all API Rated Oil Safe To Use?

We all know how much motor oil acts as the essential lifeblood throughout your vehicle, keeping engine parts lubricated and at a safe temperature throughout the year. However, many novice car drivers fail to understand the grave consequences that come with using expired motor oil. We’re not talking about sediment-filled sludge that has already passed through your vehicle, we’re talking about obsolete oils that haven’t been usable for decades. You may be saying to yourself, “duh, of course I’d never purchase expired oil” but in reality, picking up the wrong motor oil may be easier than you think. Surprisingly, many drivers pick up any API rated oil and believe that just because it is API rated that it will work for their car’s oil change, unfortunately, they are wrong. Not all API rated oil is safe for your car, some are outdated. We are going to go over why this is, and give you a bit more understanding of what API (American Petroleum Institute) engine oil classifications mean, and how obsolete oils can adversely affect your vehicle.

Basics Of API

We can spend numerous articles covering every classification that has evolved with each car innovation, but for now, let’s just cover the basics of what API accomplishes. Since the 1930s, the institute has rated motor oil to ensure it meets the quality standards of your OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer). Motor oil brands receive a rating, which appears as the “API donut” on the label of the product, informing consumers of what automobile categories the oil can service. A two-letter code in the top ring lets buyers know the service rating, while the grades in the middle represent the viscosity rating.  As more certifications come in for different types of vehicles, the complexity of the chart classifications deepen. No matter what, it is regularly understood that motor oil with API service grades of “SA” through “SH” is now obsolete. Yet still, greedy shop owners continue to sell this outdated oil to make a quick profit at the risk of your car damage.

API oil classification chart so you can stay away from outdated motor oils for your specific vehicle!

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Pay attention to the API classification when buying motor oil from stores or ask your car technician what oil they are planning on using for your vehicle’s oil change.

The Dollar General Debacle

Around 2015, hundreds of class action lawsuits began flooding in from vehicle owners who accidentally purchased obsolete motor oil from Dollar General locations across more than 16 states. On one side, thousands of people endured thousands of dollars in damage because they didn’t properly check the API labeling, on the other side, the consumers rightfully didn’t expect a store to be selling obsolete oil, because, why would they? According to consumers, the expired oil was purposefully placed alongside usable oil, in order to confuse people into buying the outdated product. Dollar General’s only defense was that they believed people were buying the obsolete oil for “other equipment compatible with the oil” even though vendors claim to have informed them that the oil was expired. In any case, we must take the Dollar General debacle as an important example of how critical it is to read and understand the API labeling.

Inquire Your Car Technician 

Whether you’re getting your oil change in Orlando or you’re headed to another Jiffy Lube location across the states, our car technicians can point you to the correct motor oil for your vehicle. Without any sales gimmicks or confusing lingo to steer you in the wrong direction, we can also find oils laced with additives to suit your vehicle’s specific needs. Is all API rated oil safe to use? The answer would be no, but unfortunately, some stores wouldn’t want you to know that. At Jiffy Lube, we can answer any questions you have regarding viscosity grade, your particular vehicle model, or anything else you have to ask.


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