To the Editor:
Sludge? Whose problem should it be?
If you fill up a gasoline-engine car with diesel fuel and ruin the engine or have to spend thousands of dollars to have the entire fuel system drained and cleaned, would you or should you blame the vehicle manufacturer?
What if you consistently fill your high-performance car with an engine designed to run on high-octane (95) premium gasoline with low-octane regular (85) and burn holes in the pistons because of excessive detonation and pre-ignition? Is the manufacturer responsible?
Most people in the automobile industry would have no issue with either of those situations and would feel no responsibility at the manufacturer level to make any adjustments to the owner of the vehicle.
Why, then, randomly assume any responsibility for engine sludge that is caused by the oil in the engine?
It is not the engine that generates the sludge; it is the oil that is in it that inherently polymerizes, oxidizes and causes gum, varnish and sludge. Even synthetic oils will do that under the right conditions.
Why not install engine-hour meters on cars and recommend service by engine-run hours?
The other issue is the availability of oil of substandard quality in the United States. The Society of Automotive Engineers specifically recommends that such oil should carry a label warning consumers that it will damage any engine manufactured after 1930. Such motor oil should not even be produced.
The writer is a lubrication engineer. Mirox Corp. owns Oka Auto USA and SynLube Inc., which makes a synthetic motor oil.