Charlatan : char·la·tan (shär’lə-tən) Noun: A person who makes elaborate, fraudulent, and often voluble claims to skill or knowledge; a quack or fraud.
Some Auto Product Info You Might Want To Read!
Some claims are just that … Claims!
As with any product market such as the auto parts market, there are always a handful of companies that generate products that claim some amazing results. And it is up to us to debunk them. My point here is that I am not going to tout a product if I haven’t used it myself successfully or have knowledge of it giving good results. I definitely will warn off anyone from products such as those listed below for the simple fact that they were charged and found guilty of false or misleading claims. And yes, some are still around but that doesn’t make them a better product.
Now before you go on to my list you may want to take a look at a couple of articles that will set the stage for the rest of the page.
- Snake Oil: Is that Additive Really A Negative? This very interesting article is the one posted on the GS Garage, a site for resources on Suzuki motorcycles. Read it and you can make your own decisions as to whether additives are really a good thing.
- Gas-Saving Products: Fact or Fuelishness? This is the FTC/EPA article on the general status of all the products that they tested. All came out unsubstantiated.
- The Low-Down on High Octane Gasoline – Do you really need it? Probably not!
- Engine Oil Filter Study – Another area filled with clouds of gray information. This may help in your own decisions.
The good part is that some of these questionable products have been brought to the table and lost. The bad part is a majority of this bad info has come in “under the radar” so to speak. Leaving most consumers clueless to the proven false/questionable claims and the resulting legal results.
And being in the auto parts retail business it comes up almost every day. So here are some of the more common members of the shady claims family.
- SplitFire Spark plugs (FTC File no. 952-3029)
- ProLong engine treatment (FTC file no. 972 3014)
- MotorUp engine treatment (FTC File No. 972-3034)
- DuraLube products (FTC file No. 962 3136)
- Quaker State’s Slick 50 engine treatment (FTC File No. 932 3050 and Docket No. D-9280 [PDF])
- STP engine treatment (Civil Action No. 78, Civ. 559 and Docket No. C-2777)
- zMax Power System (FTC File No. 002 3256 and Civil Action No. 1:01CV00126)
Slick 50 – just how slick? (July 1996)
A shining example of a product everyone has heard of but most aren’t aware of the dark side of their product.
It starts when the Federal Trade Commission filed a Complaint in 1996. In this complaint, they challenged pretty much every advertised claim of the product. Between the time of the complaint and the settlement Slick 50 changed hands. They eventually settled the suit on July 23, 1997 and the judgment basically bars Slick 50 from making any of the claims about the product and required Slick 50 to distribute at least $10 million in rebates.
Then come a flock of class action lawsuits based on this result. The most prominent is DAVID RAYSIC VS QUAKER STATE – SLICK 50 INC., SLICK 50 MANAGEMENT, INC., SLICK 50 PRODUCTS CORP., and SLICK 50 CORP.
According to the Preliminary Settlement Notice issued by the 68TH JUDICIAL DISTRICT item NO. 96-12610-C on March 16,1998 shortly after the FTC action began, Slick 50 was hit with eight class-action lawsuits. All pretty much claim the same things. And the settlements are similar with a few interesting twists. It seems that you have to purchase Quaker State products in order to get the rebates mandated by the court.
The whole scenario is here. The original Federal Trade Commission Complaint
and Notice, with all the accusations; the Agreement
Containing Consent Order basically a cease and desist order; and the Decision and
Order, which details the final settlement.
STP Engine Treatment (December 1995)
In December 1995 the FTC said “STP To Pay $888,000 Civil Penalty To Settle Charges Over Ad Campaign For STP Engine Treatment” FTC Docket No. C-2777
What this action basically said was that STP even after a 1976 order to cease their misrepresented claims without scientific backup, and a following settlement in 1978, for the second time they continued to falsely represent the product.
DuraLube Engine Treatment (March 2000)
In May 1999 FTC says “Ads for Dura Lube Were False and Unsubstantiated.” FTC File No. 962 3136. Dura Lube was an interesting case because the FTC went after them and their advertising agencies!. There were a bunch of class action lawsuits against them also. Settlement Agreement Announced
Prolong Engine Treatment (September 1999)
In September 1999 FTC says “Performance Claims for Motor Oil Additive Were Unsubstantiated” . FTC File No. 972 3014
November 1999, the makers of Prolong reached an agreement with the FTC wherein they wouldn’t have to pay a fine but they would have to immediately cease all claims that Prolong will reduce engine wear, extend engine life, reduce corrosion, protect against breakdowns, or that what works in a racecar will work in a street-driven car. The original FTC Complaint, the Agreement Containing Consent Order, the Decision and Order, and one commissioner’s partial dissent.
zMax Power System (February 2001)
Motor Up Engine Treatment (March 2000)
Motor Up really took a hard hit and decided to just cease and desist. They FTC was so mad as to require the owner of the company to report where he was employed for the next 10 years. And there is no record of a legal battle. Settlement Agreement Announced
SplitFire Spark Plugs
SplitFire spark plugs are another questionable product knocked down a notch but still on the market. Once again tagged for unsubstantiated claims. SplitFire Consent Order