Retailers Should Check Their Engine Oil Labels

A new labeling rule goes into effect in January.

November 22, 2021

Engine Oil

ALEXANDRIA, Va.—The Independent Lubricant Manufacturers Association is advising all retailers to check engine oils for compliance with a new labeling rule that will begin Jan. 1, 2022.

The new rules were adopted in July as amendments to the National Conference on Weights and Measures’ Handbook 130. The two key changes are as follows:

  1. The SAE J300 cautionary statement for obsolete American Petroleum Institute (API) service categories must appear on the front- or forward-facing container label.
  2. It is illegal to misrepresent the SAE viscosity or specification for a motor oil, including the API service category, European Automobile Manufacturers Association specification or original equipment manufacturer specification.

Obsolete API service categories for light-duty gasoline engine oils include anything prior to API SJ. For example, an obsolete API SH oil must include a statement on the front-facing label that the oil is: “Not suitable for use in most gasoline-powered automotive engines built after 1996. May not provide adequate protection against build-up of engine sludge, oxidation, or wear.”

A list of current and obsolete API service categories can be found here.

There is no sell-through period, so all noncompliant products must be pulled from shelves by January 1. The obsolete oil requirements will be published in the 2022 edition of Handbook 130.

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