California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle)

Used Oil Recycling Program

The Facts About Re-Refined Oil

What is Re-Refined Oil?
Re-refined oil is used motor oil that undergoes an extensive re-refining process to remove contaminants to produce a good-as-new base oil. This base oil is then sold to blenders who add additive packages to produce lubricants such as motor oil, transmission fluid, and grease. The main difference between re-refined and virgin oil products is that re-refined represents the responsible choice for the environment.

Are Re-Refined Lubricants Safe to Use?
Lubricants made from re-refined base stocks must undergo the same testing and meet the same standards as virgin lubricants in order to receive the certification of the American Petroleum Institute (API). Vehicle and engine manufacturers such as Ford, General Motors, Chrysler, and Detroit Diesel have issued warranty statements that allow the use of re-refined oil as long as it meets API standards. Many government and private fleets have used re-refined lubricants in their vehicles for years and report no difference in performance from virgin lubricants.

Why Use Re-Refined Oil?
Re-refined oil is good for the environment and it’s priced competitively to regular motor oil. Also, do-it-yourself oil changers “close the recycling loop” with re-refined oil by turning in their old oil and purchasing motor oil that has been used, re-refined, and put back on store shelves for reuse.

Buying re-refined oil reduces our dependence on imported oil, reduces the depletion of natural resources, eliminates waste material, and helps create jobs. By using and promoting the use of re-refined lubricants, you accomplish the following:

  • Preserve a non-renewable resource—oil.
  • Demonstrate your commitment to a cleaner environment through recycling and proper waste management.
  • Help protect the environment against pollution.

What is Being Done to Promote the Use of Re-Refined Oil?
The California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle, formerly know as CIWMB) promotes closed loop recycling and the use of re-refined lubricants. The CIWMB awarded a contract to the California State University-Long Beach Foundation to promote the use of re-refined lubricants. The Long Beach Foundation project focuses on fleet manager training. Fleet manager training increases the market demand for re-refined oil by educating fleet managers on re-refined oil quality and successful uses.

Local governments, State colleges and universities, and correctional facilities can purchase re-refined oil for their fleet vehicles through the state’s lubrication contract. For more information about re-refined oil or the existing state lubrication contract, visit our Re-Refined Oil website.

You may also download this fact sheet in MS Word or Adobe PDF, or order hard copies, from our Publications Catalog (in English).

Spanish version of The Facts About Re-Refined Oil.

See also Myths and Questions About Re-Refined Oil

Re-Refined Oil Home

Last updated: November 1, 2011
Used Oil Recycling Program, http://www.calrecycle.ca.gov/UsedOil/
Contact: UsedOilHHW@calrecycle.ca.gov (916) 341-6457