Re-refined oil - Canada vs. US observations

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Sep 8, 2005
Its been established in many threads here that Safety-Kleen re-refines oil, and that oil ends up as various engine oils brands on store shelves, in both Canada and the US. In Canada, there is a lot of that oil on discount store shelves - Wal-Mart has 'Tech 2000'; Canadian Tire has 'Autolab'; and Zellers has 'Auto Prix'. From my observation, that oil takes up at least 50% of the shelf space for motor oils in these stores. Also, Wal-Mart now offers a $18 oil change using this oil. This oil is packaged in very cheap, bland packaging, and you wouldn't know it was a re-refined oil, except for the price, which is about half that of virgin oil. I'm assuming b/c of this availiablility, it is used quite a lot in Canada. In the US, it seems that there is a lot less use of re-refined oil. It seems like it is marketed as a specialty 'environmental' product, not just a cheap oil brand. The packaging of it seems to bear that out: From what I have read here, it is not as availiable as a store brand at any stores, nor do people on this board seem to think it is worth it - it doesn't seem to be much cheaper there than here. Up here, as mentioned, it is up to half as cheap as virgin dino, and an oil change with it is a full $6 cheaper than the next nearest package. I'm not really sure where I'm going with this, it just seems like the Canadian market treats this as just a cheaper product and option for oil, but no fuss is made about it being an environmental product. I don't know if that means Canada is more environmentally friendly than the US in this regard, or if we are being given a bill of goods b/c we are getting fleeced on the price of regular oil. Thought/comments on this? If I'm wrong about how availiable re-refined oil is in the US, and how much it is used by the civilian population (I'll exclude fleet/cop use), please let me know....
WalMarts in my area briefly carried a re-refined motor oil, but it was actually priced higher than equivalently rated virgin Pennzoil and Castrol. Some of it might've even been sold for all I know. As long as recycled oil is <i>actually</i> re-refined by running it through a catalytic hydrocracker to isomerize it to Group II, Group II+, or Group III status and additized to meet SM standards, I'd have no problem at all using it if it's competitively priced with virgin motor oils. But to have to pay a premium just for "green" bragging rights when very good quality virgin motor oils such as SuperTech, the ConocoPhillips brands, and the Chevron brands are available for around a buck and a half a quart is somewhere north of the <i>Twilight Zone</i>. In my humble opinion.
I agree entirely. which is the main reason for my post - in Canada, these oils are priced and packaged, for lack of a better term, as cheap junk. There is no mention of them being 'environmentally friendly' or focus on that aspect at all. And you certainly don't pay a premium for them - you pay a lot less. So, as you said, Ray, if they are properly processed, they are a heck of a bargain. It's just interesting how differently the US and Canada market these products.
Re-refined motor oil used to be much more common here than it is now, but never that popular. The premium, API rated stuff was never that much cheaper than the virgin oil. McMillan Ring-free is the one I remember. Non-detergent, non-API re-refined oil was sold in plain gallon cans primarily to those with smoking or leaking old cars. Today, almost all of the used oil is burned directly as fuel oil. Retail oil pricing strategy may make the difference in demand between Canada and the US. Motor oil is frequently a "loss-leader" and the profit margins are thin or non-existant, making name-brand dino oils a comparative bargain here.
Keep in mind that what was once referred to as "re-refined" was nothing more than filtered and re-bottled/re-drummed used oil. Before I'd expose my engine to ANY used motor oil product touted as re-refined these days, I'd want assurances in print on the labeling that the collected used oil had undergone full isomerizing purefication through a hydrocracker just as virgin petroleum distillates undergo. With crude hovering around $60.00/barrel, I can't blindly accept that collected used oil is priced that high or higher. Maybe it's time the major refiners look into accepting used motor oil for processing along with virgin petroleum.
Ray, the issue is that most lube oil feed stocks from virgin are simply bottoms from the fuel production proccess. Meaning alot more volume. To meet the sequence rerquirements of SM and ISLAC GF-4 requires base oils with the oxidative stability of Grp II or better. So the Hydroisomerization of these oils is a moot point if they carry this label we know that they have to meet the standards. How do we know any oil meets the standards set by their Label? Running seperate small refineries for used oil is hardly cost effective in my opinion. Considering how much base oil a fuel refiner puts out as a side product with existing equipment it is not a winning competetive business model to compete just for lube oil sales that are kept at low prices do to the supply put into the market by the large refiners. Keep in mind also that nearly 50% of the original mass of recycled oil is lost during the cracking process. It would be better to just sell or give used oil to standing refiners to mix with there bulk crude. I am not certain that such things do not already happen. Nothing wrong with rerefined lube oil but I have a hard time seeing it as competetive as a stand alone product considering the other sources.
You're right, it was only very recently that I found out these oils were re-refined. I always assumed they were so cheap just because they were basically no-name brands. Whenever I go to Canadian Tire, the Autolab section is usually pretty empty so I'd say people are scooping it up. I wouldn't hesitate to use it myself. I keep it in mind as a "safety oil"... if I can't find name-brand oil on sale when I need it, I'll pick up some re-refined stuff.
I have worked at a plant that turned used motor oil into heating oil and there is a plant here that re-refines used motor oil into re-useable refinery feedstock and I have seen the enviro-friendly "GREEN " labelled re-refined motor oils as well. But you do get what you pay for in a motor oil and when the lowest possible price is the only factor you also get what you ask for. An engine oil is only as good as its additive package for its given application. Refining, packaging and shipping all cost the same between premium and entry level oils so the savings can only come in one area and that is additives.
One of my family friend used to work in a factory that use either used oil or re-refined oil as feedstock of CV boot manufacturing.
Might sound abit dumb....Wal-Mart's T2000 motor oil might be outstanding and nothing wrong with it, but if you compare the smell of Wal-Mart's T2000 to gear oil, I won't use what smells like gear oil in my engine [Eek!]
Well, by heck, <i>I'm</i> not dumping my used oil in my backyard! (Leastways unless my next door neighbor builds onto the fence sitting on our property line...)
When I was a young gas pumper in the 70's, the station I worked at sold a brand of motor oil, "Apex", if I recall correctly, that was filtered and re-additized (maybe) used oil. It was only bought by the poor people, but they did buy a lot of it. Recycled oil will, to me, always have that impoverished stigma attached to it, no matter how irrational that may be in light of the advanced technology these days.
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------- What we need is a VOA on a common re-refined oil. That should put a slight damper on the speculation. =-) Alex. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- wont show anything but add pak,. a good rerefined oil will show NO metals or additives. bruce
I never seen filtered used oil sold as re-refined oil. Sorry guys, but who starts these rumours? Show me some pictures of that unrefined filtered rebottled used oil. If it is re-refined, it'll be labelled with a spec, SAE weight, and might even be refined to a higher level then some new oils. Its all about supply and demand. Since there is no demand for it around here, most of the used oil collected is sent to the powerplants to make heat and electricity. Electricity is in more demand then 'green' oil. And, concerning supply, we still don't recycle ENOUGH oil. Maybe if everyone quit dumping into the yard, sewer, or garbage can, we'd have a bigger supply of oil for re-refining. From what I've read, the amount of oil collected vs sold is pathetic. Sure, some oil is lost to engine consumption, but the local enviroweenies claim that there are the equivalent of 30-40 Valdez spills every year into our backyards and sewers because we are too stupid or lazy to collect the oil and drop it off for recycling. I just can't wait until they legislate oil off of the store shelves.
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