ARCO "Graphite Oil"

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Oct 28, 2002
Everson WA - Pacific NW USA
Who knows/remembers and can tell the full story of ARCO graphite motor oil? Maybe not the correct forum - but it was motor oil. I heard some "anecdotal" stuff in the Late 70's, but what are true facts? Maybe we could learn something. [ December 20, 2002, 07:58 AM: Message edited by: Pablo ]
The oil had a colloidal suspension of graphite in it. It was black as coal. I tried it in a dodge 360 but had to take it out because one guide leaked enough that it fouled the plug. That graphite is a conductor and does not burn off once the plug is fouled. Thats it from my end, I am sure others can add more. RW
If I recall it appears that it was not thoroughly tested to prove it actually reduced wear or improved mileage. They pulled it off the market when they finally realized it had no benefit.
I used it and loved it. I kept meticulous gas mileage records at the time, and I got at least 10% better mileage than any other oil. I think I used Castrol at the time. I also felt (subjective, I know) that my car ran much smoother and with a little more power.
Man, I'd forgotten all about that stuff! I had a '71 Super Beetle at the time, living in SoCal, & I wanted something to really protect the newly-rebuilt engine. "Airflow & Oil" on those things! With only 2-1/2 qts of oil, I was looking for something more protective than 10-30. I was a Castrol fanatic at the time, but I really liked the graphite idea with that tiny sump. Amway had a graphite oil additive at the same time as Arco's product. It was a 16oz bottle, designed for 4-6 qts of oil (I think). This was it! I could get 2x-3x the graphite that Arco was offering! I'd dump in 2 qts of Castrol 20-50 & this 1/2 qt of graphite concentrate. Changed it every 3k & adjusted the valves (stone cold) every 6k. Man, I'll tell you what; that was the best running Bug engine I've ever had! Of course, as Dick said, it would probably wreak havoc on an engine with lots of blow-by. I'm guessing that this happened a lot, as folks used it as a cure-all for their ailing engines. (We're always looking for that magic bullet, aren't we?) I'd imagine Arco got WAY more complaints from this kind of use than praise from new engine use. The funniest part was taking our Skylark in for oil changes & ALWAYS having the tech come out of the back of the shop shaking his head. "How long have you had that oil in there?!?! It was so dirty I couldn't see any light thru it AT ALL!!" I tried to explain it a few times, but everybody had the same fear about the stuff. So I just got used to saying, "Really?" & nodding my head while looking concerned & promising to be better about it. Then I had to tell them to leave it a qt low 'cuz I had "an oil additive" back home. (I had to tell them to leave it a full quart low 'cuz they always overfilled it by 1/2 a qt, regardless of who I used or how much they were filling.)
My recollection is that it was taken from the market primarily due to customer resistance. Just couldn't get the users to accept black oil from the get-go, so sales weren't enough to justify continued marketing. Used to use it to demonstrate the ability of the AMSOIL bypass filter to remove the black.
Originally posted by Dick in Falls Church: My recollection is that it was taken from the market primarily due to customer resistance. Just couldn't get the users to accept black oil from the get-go...
I agree. I couldn't convince ANYbody I knew to try it, regardless of the good luck I was having with it.
I gave it a try for a couple of oil changes but did not like the black look of the oil. Reason I gave it a try to start with was the mislabeled batch of oil Quaker State made in the late 70's. It was on the news that the oil would not pump in extreme cold. Of course I found this out after it was at least -20F and the oil would not pump up to the lifters so I had to shut off the motor. Had a dipstick heater at the time so plugged that in to thaw out the oil.
Elf (of Europe) has a product called Molygraf which claims there is moly and graphite in it. Unfortunately it only comes with 10w 40 viscosity. If I can find a 10w or 5w 30 I'd try it. Next time at the supermarket I will look at the color... if memory srves correctly it wasn't so black may be a shade darker. How about adding plain graphite powder to the oil since it was originally a colloidal suspension? A no-no?
As I recall it also liked to leak, as if they had to use a thinner stock to make up for the graphite. I still have 5 or 10 quarts in the garage. Ira
I ran this Graphite Oil in a '77 Chevy Wagon for about 40000 miles. Really liked it because it actually did get better gas mileage. Long term, because I extended the change intervals to 8000 miles (7 weeks - I drove a lot), it likely caused too much wear on the rings. The local service station was an ARCO and I thought that this oil was a good idea at the time. By the time this Chevy had 140000 miles on it it was using a full quart of oil every fill-up. As I look back on things this was not a good oil to use for extended change intervals. The only bright spot. Spray and Wash had just come out, and they said that their stuff would get any stain out of your clothes. If you got a spot of this graphite stuff on anything, it would not come out. The Spray and Wash folks sent me a check for 2 new shirts, when I sent them 2 shirts stained with this oil. regards, Jim White - [email protected]
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