By on April 17, 2012

Like a sign on a door, this sum of financial flammables has indeed been given two meanings.

The first is that it represents the daily gasoline usage of all of us here on planet Earth.  Scooters, cars, industrial machines, toys, generators, plastics and petrochemical materials the world over all amount to this “deficits don’t matter” level of daily consumption.

That number alone will be incredibly hard to change on a voluntary basis. Heck, it may indeed be close to the realm of impossible barring another financial crisis. But there is a smaller usage level that can be altered depending on… well… you!

That’s the amount of motor oil used in the United States. Approximately three billion gallons a year are put exclusively into the machines that power our mobile freedoms and conveniences.

The car that gets you around. The drink you just bought that came from a delivery truck. The code enforcement officer who burns taxpayer money by aimlessly wandering around your neighborhood looking for new sources of county revenue. All of these folks depend on motor oil to get them where they need to go.

Here is a short video to get you better educated about this important lubricator.

Well, wrong chemical but right idea. Now that you are better familiarized with one of the additives used in motor oil, we here at TTAC must now ask you to consider a question.

Would you be willing to use a re-refined oil if it met API-SN standards?

Since motor oil simply gets dirty with use, it doesn’t lose lubricative properties. Aproximately 85% of the used oil can now be recycled and re-refined with a new additive package making up the remaining 15% portion.

In simple English, if you used 60 quarts of re-refined motor oil over the next decade you would avoid the pumping and importation of twelve barrels of crude.

The financial cost? Not much for right now. You can pretty much get this stuff for free if you are the DIY type. Advance Auto Parts and O’Reilly’s now offer mail-in-rebates that make re-refined oils almost free if you frequent those stores. Pep Boys offers $20 back if you buy a $30 oil Nextgen oil change special. But since Manny and his minions decided to pollute their stores with cheap scooters and one sole checkout person, I would advise shopping around the 0ther places first.


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31 Comments on “Hammer Time: Three Billion Gallons...”

  • avatar

    I used recycled water all the time (do you think the stuff that comes out of the tap or in a bottle was never put through a sewer system). If I can drink recycled water my car can use recycled oil. Nuff said. Close the comments.

  • avatar

    If it does the job, why not?

  • avatar

    If it was cheaper, sure.

  • avatar
    Don Mynack

    Dammit! Just changed the oil on one of the cars with Castrol (it was on sale). Would have used this one for sure…

  • avatar

    I wouldn’t mind, as long as it is properly tested and certified

  • avatar

    Is used oil any worse than crude? Hardly.

    Thus, if we refine crude to make lubricants, and if the used lubricants are already closer to the finished product, it is reasonable to think that re-refining it would be simpler, cheaper, and deliver a final product just as good.

  • avatar

    The API has designated groups for base oil, I-V, before the additives go in. Group II or better is required to make API SN finished motor oil. There are base oil plants going up all over the US that use hydroprocessing to make Group II out of waste oil. Your engine cant possibly know the difference. The problem is actually obtaining reliable supplies of uncontaminated waste oil. When fleets were the customer and supplier, the loop was closed and it was less complicated.

    Valvoline has been the marketing king of motor oil for quite a while. First it was “High Mileage”, then “Synthetic Blend” and now rerefined oil in green bottles.

  • avatar

    I’d be all for using recycled motor oil. Which motor oils are recycled? Does it say it on the bottle?

  • avatar

    I just did an oil change on my 99 Ford Ranger V6 and purchased recycled oil.

    How do you get recycled synthetic, since I assume the oil I dumped in the tank for recycling at the auto supply store is all mixed together?

    Both of our other newer vehicles (one is a turbo) require synthetic oil.

    • 0 avatar
      bill h.

      Yes, I wonder about those recycling tanks, especially as the municipal one I use also takes ATF and gear oil in the same tank as the motor oils. Is there a way to refine out the sulfur additives in the gear oils, or the red dyes used in the tranny fluids?

  • avatar

    If it makes sense do it, but I wonder if this is just another sign of a peak…

    • 0 avatar

      Not a sign of a peak, a sign of the equalization of economic power across the globe. And, having been the wealthiest nation on the globe for half a century, there is only one way to go with that sort of equalization.

      I remember twenty years ago getting told by a guy from Ford how much he wanted $5 a gallon gas and expensive motor oil to teach us a lesson. The lesson is done taught.

      This is concomitant with global-designed cars on the streets: it’s not a certainty anymore to just sell to the US and make a fortune. Fortunes can be made selling lots of other places.

      • 0 avatar

        “Not a sign of a peak, a sign of the equalization of economic power across the globe.”

        Here’s something to ponder, which of the two is more dangerous for American interests?

  • avatar

    Do oil-change shops, mechanics or dealers supply recylced oil? I have no objection to it, it just hadn’t occurred to me to ask for it.

  • avatar

    I would. There’s no real reason not to, assuming all of the protective properties are the same.

    What good reason would there be not to use recycled oil?

  • avatar
    Felix Hoenikker

    I learned about recycled oil when driving 57 Chevy coupe with the SB V8. The fuel pump started leaking gas into the oil sump, and the local Chevy dealer mechanics were too arrogant and ignorant to correctly identify the problem. Dad ended up going to an independent garage who correctly diagonosed the problem and repladced the fuel pump. Too late, the damage was done. This resulted in two consequences. First, the oil rings were ruined, and second my father never patronized that dealership again.
    Anyway, my dad decided to buy a new car to replace the 57 Chevy, but was looking for a good deal and in no hurry.
    In order to keep the Chevy going until it was replaced we used re-refined oil. I would drive about 10 miles to a plant that refined used oil and buy two gallons (bring your own cans) for $2. That would last about two weeks. Every week I removed the spark plugs and cleaned them with solvent to remove as much of the residue as I could. The smoke that car put out going down hill with you foot off the accelerator was impressive. I could have hid a tank behind me. This went on for about six months until the replacement arrived.
    I was then introduced to the pleaures of a manual three on the tree in the form of a new 69 Plymouth Valiant.

  • avatar

    When a teenager in high school (1968-69), I bought re-refined oil at a local drug store for my old bomb. I don’t recall how much it was a quart, but it was significantly cheaper than the usual Quaker State, that when all I had was pennies, every cent counted!

    That old heap, my rusted-out 1961 Bel-Air 235 stick didn’t even have an oil filter!

    It didn’t seem to care, either…

  • avatar

    This reminds me of 25 cent gas and bulk oil. When a heater and anti-freeze were options on new cars. When we had to put brakes and tires on the demos after 6-8 months of service. I’m too old and stupid to change my ingrained habits now. Re-refined? Not in my machines.

  • avatar

    There’s Nexgen which is recycled oil, and then there’s G-Oil which is truly “synthetic” as it’s made out of beef tallow. Both of them meet API requirements and I don’t see any problems using them.

    Valvoline is trying to pitch the green bottle as a superior product, and it is priced slightly above the regular stuff. I think people have less hangups about the recycled part, than the price. “Why would I pay more for that, when I can get 100% brand new oil for less?”

  • avatar

    Steve, have you heard of this little tool:

    Saw them on KickStarter middle of last year. Looks like they are almost ready to go to the public.

  • avatar

    But will it blend?

  • avatar

    I would like to use this recycled oil, but I haven’t used dino oil for years now and I don’t want to go back. If they made a recycled synthetic oil I’d be game to try it.

  • avatar

    What do car manufacturers say about this?

  • avatar

    Of all the places to save money this seems like one of the worst. Used engine oil can be recycled into many different products, from asphalt to heating oil to fuel. But if I am going to spend many thousands of dollars to purchase and maintain a vehicle the one place it makes sense to spend money is on the best oil I can afford. Extra virgin, please.

    However, the great thing about a free market is that there are people who want recycled oil for a variety of reasons and now they have more products to choose from.

    Of course, re-refined oil used to be cheap junk sold at a discount. Now that is has a green halo it is sold for the same price as “virgin” oil. Gotta love marketing.

  • avatar

    If I had a vehicle that didn’t require the use of synthetic oils, sure would.

  • avatar

    I would be willing if it was a synthetic oil like the synthetic oil I put into my vehicle.

    This has to do with thermal stability and the differences in length of the molecule chain in synthetic vs normal oils.

    Synthetics are much more stable because of the uniform length of molecule chains. Normal oil has short and long chains of molecules and the shorter ones burn faster and at lower temperatures and pressures.

    If I can do this and ensure that my source of oil is synthetic, I’d be more than happy to do this. I can’t think of any real argument to be made against this other than an emotional one.

  • avatar

    Why recycle used oil? It burns REALLY well on a campfire.

  • avatar

    I’m surprised that used oil at the consumer level doesn’t have any significant value, or carry a deposit. Is it too hard to evaluate the actual liquid being returned?

    I’d use recycled oil for the right price (same or less than anything else reputable). Used oil starts out at a much higher quality than crude, apart from any contamination that must be separated.

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