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Recycled oil at Walmart, Jiffy-Lube, etc

I got my oil changed today, and it cost me $37.25! In the course of discussion with the mechanic he mentioned that big outfits like Walmart and Jiffy-Lube do not use new oil but recycle used oil on the cheap, thus they can offer lower prices.

Question #1: Is there any truth to this?

Question #2: Is recycled oil good or bad for our cars? Should we care?

No truth.

  1. There is no truth to this. WM is the 800 pound gorilla and can put intense pressure on their suppliers to cut the cost to WM. This allows them to undercut many others. JL, just like many car dealers, may buy oil in 55 gallon containers at a discount. It’s all the same oil, no matter the size of the container.

  2. There is some recycled oil out there but it’s usually sold in quick shops/small stores under obscure names and will state this on the bottle. The only thing it’s good for is topping off a car if you’re in a real pinch and there is nothing else around.

This comment could raise some ethics concerns about your mechanic.

No, it’s not recycled oil. $37 sounds pretty cheap for an oil change.

I think the guy probably got confused when he heard that they recycle their used oil. Send it to be recycled, not used to change oil with. Some of these guys are not the brightest bulbs on the string.

Just an FYI but did you know that the Wal Mart Automotive Dept. is not even owned by WM? It’s a sub-let operation even though they all wear the WM uniforms and whatnot.

Quaker State used to run them but that may have changed.

It’s only $22 at my wal-mart if I use their brand oil and fram filter. taxes and enviro fees included. It’s $39 with synthetic.

OK has covered it very well, as usual. Your mechanic is either not very bright, or not very honest. Both issues would be a concern for me.

I have to agree with that.

Your mechanic is saying that because if you buy his story you’ll only go to him for your oil changes.

Jiffy-Lube (and most of the fast lube companies) use the waste oil to heat their garages. So it’s NOT being recycled.

The low prices of oil canges are volume-related. Big chains buying goo quality oil in drums can give you a good deal.

Recycled oil is sold by a number of chains and packaged in quarts or gallons and specifically labeled as “recycled”. Many older railroad locomotives use recycled oil as well as some other heavy industrial machinery not requiring complex additive packages.

How good is it? If I had an older US V8 or V6, I would gladly use it, since the demand on the oil would not be severe. Years ago in college, I had a Chevy “stovebolt 6” which had an appetite for oil. I kept a case of 24 quarts in the trunk. At that time it came to $0.29 cents a quart for the recycled oil.

In Germany, oil has to be recycled by law, and 60% actually is. So Germans use a lot of recycled oil. Their processes are probably much more severe though, to get the quality up to the latest standrds.

Back to the mechanic, he is probably deliberately lying or not too bright, as stated. Big chains don’t need to use recycled oil to give you a low cost oil change.

I don’t think recycled oil is resold as oil. I think recycled oil is used to make other petroleum-based products like plastic and gortex. Can any of you petroleum experts confirm that?

There are a couple universal truths most of us agree on:

-Places like Jiffy Lube are infamious for screwing up cars. Whether they under-torque your oil filter or strip the threads on your drain plug, loss of your oil can kill your engine. So it might be worth it to spend a few more dollars.
-Some mechanics and service advisors will say almost anything to get your business. They can be very imaginative.

I have gotten my oil changed at a dealership in the past for about $25. Shop around.

Yes, Jeremy, there is just too much waste oil to be recycled. Although some is sold as recycled oil, and properly labelled, most is used as a) fuel in special heaters, b) as a chemical feedstock in making other products. Waste oil is an excellent fuel for cement kilns, for instance.

When the government says “recycled”, they mean that it is used for some other purpose, and not landfilled, dumped down the drain, or used on rural roads as a dust suppressant.

It wouldn’t matter. Motor oil has to meet DOT standards before it can be sold. No matter the source, it has to be acceptable for the intended use.

Actually SafetyKleen is selling recycled & re-refined motor oil under the America’s Choice brand. See the America’s Choice website for more details. Their claim is that it meets API classification SM, which is the most current. I would suspect their prime customer is a fleet operation. Sam’s Club used to sell this brand, last time I was in one of the clubs.

Also think GSA has a fed govt program that purchases similar recycled oils, based on a Congressional mandate to conserve and re-use.

OIl has to meet, in addition to DOT, the applicable SAE,API, and ASTM standards. Oil, as you know, comes in many different grades and quality designations. Recycled oil normally meet the specs for older cars such as SG, SH, and therefore is safe to use in those vehicles. It will seldom meet current quality standards, and therfore should be avoided in newer cars.

This particular brand is, or was, sold in many small stores here in OK and probably many other states also.
Note the first paragraph.

I was never in the military but have been told that they use recycled oil in some situations.Any truth?

You guys are the BEST. Thank you for all of your comments! Please feel free to add additional info. This has been a very interesting learning experience for me (and hopefully for others as well)

Once while gassing up about midnight I checked the oil on one of my old cars and discovered it was about 2/3 of a qt. down.
Figuring I’d pick up a quart of overpriced Pennzoil or something I found they had no oil at all except that reconstituted Double Eagle oil.

Since the car was due for an oil change I figured a partial bottle of this stuff would not harm anything until the next day.
This was some pretty sad looking oil. Thin, dark in color, and not much lubricity to it at all. I think they recycle old oil through a giant filtering system that weeds out most of the particles and any additives.
My advice is NEVER use this garbage except in a real pinch and on a very short term basis.

And actually, 37 bucks is really not that bad.