Understanding Doubt

by Ed Newman
Marketing & Advertising Manager, AMSOIL INC.

Os Guinness, in his thought provoking book In Two Minds, begins his discussion of the problem of doubt by stating that trust is the foundation of all relationships. The problem we have is this: Whom can I trust? And how can I be sure?

Those of us who grew up in the sixties were taught to trust no one, especially those in authority. This creates a problem however. By doubting everyone and everything, we can never come to a firm belief in anything.

In this article I want to address several areas where people have struggled because of questions or confusion they had about synthetic motor oils. By understanding the way doubt works we can improve our effectiveness when selling synthetics. Doubts can be legitimate, but are usually due to a lack of information. Honest doubters are not helped by criticism. They need a sympathetic ear, and when we understand where they're coming from, we can
offer solutions.

There are a number of areas where doubt creates a lack of confidence with regard to switching to synthetic motor oils. Here are a few of them.

1) Some people are concerned about synthetics being compatible with seals. In response we note that it would be foolhardy for lubricant manufacturers to build a product that is incompatible with seals. The composition of seals presents problems that both petroleum oils and synthetics have had to overcome. Made from elastomers, seals are inherently difficult to
standardize. Ultimately it is the additive mix in oil that counts. Additives to control seal swell, shrinkage and hardening are required, whether it be a synthetic or petroleum product that is being produced.

2) Some people are concerned about synthetics being compatible with petroleum. In truth, the synthesized hydrocarbons, polyalphaolefins, diesters and other materials that form the base stocks of high-quality name brand synthetics are fully compatible with petroleum oils. In the old days, some companies used ingredients that were not compatible, causing quality synlubes to suffer a bum rap. Fortunately, those days are long gone.

3) Some people are afraid that synthetic oils are too thin to stay in the engine. We respond by noting that in order for a lubricant to be classified\ in any SAE grade (10W-30, 10W-40, etc.) it has to meet certain guidelines with regard to viscosity ("thickness"). For example, it makes no difference whether it's 10W-40 petroleum or 10W-40 synthetic, at -25 degrees centigrade (-13F) and 100 degrees centigrade (212 degrees F) the oil has to maintain a standardized viscosity or it can't be rated a 10W-40.

4) Some people have been concerned that synthetics aren't good for catalytic converters and oxygen sensors. In truth synthetic oils have a lower volatility and release fewer emissions. Both synthetic and petroleum basestocks are similar compounds and neither is damaging to catalytic converters or oxygen sensors. It is actually the additives that can become
a problem. Because volatility is less with synthetic oils, less of the harmful additive compounds make it to the exhaust. If anything, because engines tend to run cleaner with synthetics, sensors and emission control systems run more efficiently and with less contamination.

5) Some people are concerned about voiding their warranties. This is an unfounded fear. Major engine manufacturers specifically recommend the use of synthetic lubricants. In point of fact, increasing numbers of high performance cars are arriving on showroom floors with synthetic motor oils as factory fill. New vehicle warranties are based upon the use of oils meeting specific API Service Classifications (for example, SJ/CF). Synthetic lubricants which meet current API Service requirements are perfectly suited for use in any vehicle without affecting the validity of the new car warranty.
In point of fact, in the twenty-eight years that AMSOIL Synthetic Lubricants have been used in extended service situations, over billions of miles of actual driving, these oils have not been faulted once for voiding an automaker's warranty.

6) Some people believe synthetics are too expensive. This is because many people are unaware of the benefits of synthetics. One way to address this is to have point of purchase literature on hand in the waiting area. Ask your customers to read the literature with a red Sharpie in hand. Have them mark anything that they have questions about. This simple technique will
lead them into the literature and teach them the benefits of synthetic motor oil. The many benefits of synthetic oil -- extend drain intervals, better fuel economy, reduced engine wear, greater vehicle reliability -- more than offset initial price differences.

Doubt is not a crime. It is simply a signal that information is lacking. The key to overcoming doubt is education. When good information is provided, and people choose not to believe, that is a different matter.

This article provides answers to a few of those places where niggling doubts might be undermining acceptance. The more informed we ourselves become, the better we are able to reassure others.

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