FOR RELEASE: JULY 23, 1997
Three subsidiaries of Quaker State Corp. have agreed to settle Federal
Trade Commission charges that ads for
In July, 1996, the FTC issued a complaint against four now-defunct
--"Every time you cold start your car without Slick 50 protection, metal grinds against metal in your engine";
--"With each turn of the ignition you do unseen damage, because at cold start-up most of the oil is down in the pan. But Slick 50's unique chemistry bonds to engine parts. It reduces wear up to 50% for 50,000 miles";
--"What makes Slick 50 Automotive Engine Formula different is an advanced chemical support package designed to bond a specially activated PTFE to the metal in your engine."
According to the FTC complaint, these claims and similar ones falsely represented that without Slick 50, auto engines generally have little or no protection from wear at start-up and commonly experience premature failure caused by wear. In fact, the complaint alleged, most automobile engines are adequately protected from wear at start-up when they use motor oil as recommended in the owner's manual. Moreover, it is uncommon for engines to experience premature failure caused by wear, whether they have been treated with Slick 50 or not, according to the FTC. Finally, the FTC alleged that Slick 50 neither coats engine parts with a layer of PTFE nor meets military specifications for motor oil additives, as falsely claimed.
The FTC complaint also charged that Slick 50 lacked substantiation for advertising claims that, compared to motor oil alone, the product:
--reduces engine wear;
--reduces engine wear by more than 50%;
--reduces engine wear by up to 50%;
--reduces engine wear at start-up;
--extends the duration of engine life;
--lowers engine temperatures;
--reduces toxic emissions;
--increases gas mileage; and
In addition, the complaint alleged that the company did not have adequate substantiation for its advertising claims that one treatment of Slick 50 continues to reduce wear for 50,000 miles and that it has been used in a significant number of U.S. Government vehicles.
Finally, the complaint challenged ads stating that "tests prove" the engine wear reduction claims make by Slick 50. In fact, according to the FTC complaint, tests do not prove that Slick 50 reduces engine wear at start up, or by 50%, or that one treatment reduces engine wear for 50,000 miles.
The agreement to settle the FTC charges bars any claims that:
--engines lack protection from wear at start-up unless they have been treated with Slick 50 or a similar PTFE product;
--engines commonly experience premature failure caused by wear unless they are treated with Slick 50 or a similar PTFE product; or,
--Slick 50 or a similar PTFE product coats engine parts with a layer of PTFE.
In addition, the agreement will prohibit misrepresentations that Slick 50 or any engine lubricant meets the standards of any organization and misrepresentations about tests or studies.
The settlement also prohibits any claims about the performance, benefits,
efficacy, attributes or use of engine lubricants unless
Finally, the agreement holds open the option that the FTC may seek consumer redress. If the private class action suits against Slick 50 currently under litigation do not result in at least $10 million in redress to consumers, the agency reserves its right to file its own federal district court action for consumer redress. In addition, the FTC has reserved its right to seek to intervene in any class action suit to oppose a settlement it believes is not in the public interest.
The Commission vote to approve the proposed consent agreement was 5-0. A
summary of the agreement will be published in the Federal Register
shortly and will be subject to public comment for 60 days, after which the
Commission will decide whether to make it final. Comments should be
addressed to the FTC, Office of the Secretary,
NOTE: A consent agreement is for settlement purposes only and does not constitute an admission of a law violation. When the Commission issues a consent order on a final basis, it carries the force of law with respect to future actions. Each violation of such an order may result in a civil penalty of $11,000.
Copies of the complaint, consent agreement, and an analysis to aid public comment are available on the Internet at the FTC's World Wide Web site at: http://www.ftc.gov and also from the FTC's Public Reference Branch, Room 130, 6th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20580; 202-326-2222; TTY for the hearing impaired 1-866-653-4261. To find out the latest news as it is announced, call the FTC NewsPhone recording at 202-326-2710.
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Claudia Bourne Farrell
Office of Public Affairs
Elaine D. Kolish or Mary K. Engle
Bureau of Consumer Protection
202-326-3042 or 202-326-3161
(FTC File No. D09280) (slick)