EDISON - Four months after a Kane In Your Corner investigation exposed harmful motor oil for sale in New Jersey, the bad brands are still on the market, and the state Division of Consumer Affairs, which promised to take action, has yet to do so.
"It's disheartening to say the least," says Tom Glenn, president of the Petroleum Quality Institute of America, an industry watchdog group.
News 12 New Jersey became the first television station in the country to expose the problem of potentially harmful motor oil last December. Kane In Your Corner used an independent lab to test oil purchased at gas stations and convenience stores and gave failing grades to four brands, MaxiGuard, U.S. Spirit, U.S. Economy and Black Knight. MaxiGuard was so contaminated with sand and metal shavings that the lab tests indicated it could be waste oil that was repackaged and resold.
In response to the investigation, Consumer Affairs officials promised to work with the PQIA to analyze questionable motor oils and take action if violations were found. But Glenn says that after an initial conversation, he has been ignored. "We've written to them on at least 3-4 occasions...continually asking 'Is there anything we can do to help? Is any action being taken?' And the silence has been somewhat deafening," he says.
Division of Consumer Affairs spokesman Neal Buccino says, "The Petroleum Quality Institute of America has provided us with valuable information, and we appreciate their input. To date, the Division has not taken public action against any retailer (but) we will not… confirm or deny the existence of any investigation."
If the state has yet to take action, some gas stations have. Last winter, several stations told News 12 New Jersey's Walt Kane they had no idea the oil they were selling could damage cars. Kane In Your Corner went undercover and confirmed those stations had kept their promise to switch to different brands. But the brands that failed News 12 New Jersey's tests are still easy to find at many other locations.
If you'd like more information on how to make sure the motor oil you buy is safe, check out the Kane In Your Corner guide to purchasing motor oil.