California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle) 

Used Oil Recycling Program

Myths and Questions About Rerefined Oil

Rerefined base oil is the end product of a long process involving used oils. These oils are first cleansed of their contaminants--such as dirt, water, fuel, and used additives--through vacuum distillation. The oil is then hydrotreated to remove any remaining chemicals. This process is very similar to what traditional oil refineries do to remove base oil from crude. Finally, the rerefined base oil is combined with a fresh additive package by the blender.

There are many misconceptions about rerefined oil.

Here are a few of them:

Myth #1: Rerefined oil is not of equal or sufficient quality compared to virgin oil.

Reality: Rerefined oil certified by the American Petroleum Institute (API) is of the same quality as virgin oil. Oil does not break down; it simply gets dirty, additives become depleted and chemicals break down. The rerefining process cleans up the used oil and adds additives.

Myth #2: Rerefined oil will void the warranty on new cars.

Reality: New-car and new-engine manufacturers require that an API-certified oil be used to keep a warranty intact. Since rerefined oils earn API certification, the warranty will not be voided.

Myth #3: Some buyers for large fleets specify brand names rather than oil performance criteria.

Reality: Brand names may simplify purchasing but they do not guarantee high-quality oil. If specification-based purchasing is utilized, buyers may be guaranteed specific oil qualities and rerefined oil will not be excluded.

Myth #4: Jurisdictions may have long-term lubrication contracts, and are unable to switch easily.

Reality: Long-term contracts generally have exemptions allowing for pilot projects and minor contract amendments. This flexibility can be used to set up an initial conversion of part of the fleet to rerefined oil.

Myth #5: Jurisdictions must accept service from the lowest bidder on a contract, potentially excluding rerefined oil.

Reality: Managers can solve this by using a procurement ordinance or price preference. There is an alternative strategy--have a major-brand oil distributor purchase rerefined oil from a local blender, then package the product under the major-brand name.

Myth #6: Fleet lessors do not have control over the type of oil used in their vehicles.

Reality: Fleet lessors do have some control. They can take their business elsewhere if certain requirements are not met. Fleet lessors can contact the lease agents and express their willingness to work with other agents if vehicles do not use rerefined oil.

Myth #7: Major oil companies are opposed to rerefining because of their enormous capital investment in virgin oil.

Reality: Major oil companies, including Unocal, Chevron, ARCO, and Texaco, have all become involved in the rerefining market, often by purchasing independently rerefined base stock and manufacturing their own brand name of rerefined oil.

Rerefined Oil Home

Last updated: May 25, 2016
Used Oil Recycling Program, http://www.calrecycle.ca.gov/UsedOil/
Contact: UsedOilHHW@calrecycle.ca.gov (916) 341-6457