Made For TV: The Rise And Fall Of Dura Lube Engine Oil Additives

Back in the 1990’s, Dura Lube infomercial ads were a sensation on cable TV, where what appeared to be an awesome engine additive appeared to be able to perform amazing feats of engine oil strength such as an engine able to run after all the oil was drained with no breakdown. But, actions by the FTC including a $2 million dollar fine against the company as well restrictions on what the product could claim to do severely restricted the product and made the item disappear from many auto parts store shelves.

Starting out as a high pressure quality lubricant for trucks, the Dura Lube company decided to move into the more lucrative market for automobile lubricants. And with a a wave of 1990’s infomercials, Dura Lube was once a very popular engine oil additive product which seemed to work very well for many motorists. But, one day the tide began to turn against the company when lab tests seemed to confirm that the company misrepresented the product when chlorinated paraffins were discovered in Dura Lube, after the company had long claimed that they were not present in the engine oil product.

The problem with chlorinated paraffins is that they worked well in very old fashioned engine oil lubricants at the turn of the century because of their high pressure characteristics, however the automobile industry soon abandoned these type of lubricants when it was discovered that they turned into hydrochloric acid in the pressure and water moisture of an engine, where they tended to be very corrosive of the engine components and cause eventual engine damage and possible failure.

The FTC also took action against the company, hitting them with the huge $2 million dollar fine, and restricting the company from claiming to offer better gas mileage or longer service life of an engine among important claims that the company once was able to use to sell the product.

With the twin scandals of the chlorinated paraffins as well as the FTC actions against the company, infomercials for Dura Lube disappeared from the airwaves and Dura Lube disappeared from store shelves, where the company still sells products through their website, but sales have to be a ghost of what they once were.

If Dura Lube made any huge mistakes, it was in an advertising campaign that used claimed reliable scientific tests to compare Dura Lube against other other leading engine oils and additives, probably only encouraging bigger oil companies to put Dura Lube to the test and likely tipping off the FTC that the product was perhaps not all that it was really claimed to really be. But that’s the problem here. When a company boldly claims to be better than other products, it’s painted itself into that “put up or shut up” corner.

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