Slick 50

Many people ask about using engine additives such as Slick 50 in their Miata. Even the United States Federal Trade Commission has filed complaints against the makers of Slick 50 for false advertising claims! The makers recently agreed to a settlement of the complaint in which they agree to stop the deceptive advertising. In addition, here is another article of interest on the subject, along with some history.

Bottom line: We don't recommend it.

The following email question was sent to Slick 50 Vice President, Doug Ross. His reply follows.

I've read your rebuttal to the various bits of information which have circulated for some time. (I've also read the same "Snake Oil" type of article in print as well as on the Web.) What I have not seen is anyone other than your company tout the benefits of your product as compared to plain old motor oil (which has gotten me 180,000 miles on my last car and 140,000 on the current one, both without any sort of engine wear which would result in burning excess oil.)

Why don't the automakers demand that their customers use Slick50 as a condition of the powertrain warranty? Wouldn't it save them a fortune in warranty repairs?

Gary J. Fischman

Mr. Ross replies:

From: Doug Ross <>


You rarely see anyone touting the value of any product unless they have an
interest in it.  Slick 50 is offered by thousands of new car dealers,
mechanics and oil change specialists.  Slick 50 is endorsed by automotive
journalists such as Bob Sikorsky.  Click and Clack (Tom and Ray Magliozzi)
have come out in favor of it.  I guess we could pay some ex-astronauts,
ex-swimmers, ex-baseball players, ex-racers, etc. to endorse it, but why?

Slick 50 sponsors and lot of racers (of course they endorse the products)
but not for their endorsements.  That's promotion, advertising and
association with a positive experience for our customers.  An awful lot of
racers used Slick 50 long before the company ever even thought of getting
involved at the track.

If imitation is anything like an endorsement, you can look at Valvoline
which has come out with engine treatment combining Teflon and other
surface active ingredients in a manner similar to Slick 50.  Quaker State
endorsed Slick 50 in the most sincere way possible:  It paid good money for
the company.

I don't truly know the answers to a lot of your questions regarding the auto
industry.  I caution everyone who reads the "Snake Oil" type articles to do
so critically.  Notice whether they actually are saying sometbing proven
about Slick 50 or just tarring the product through negative association.
Also know there has been (and still is) a lot of animosity toward Slick 50
from the oil companies.  Their sales and marketing forces have pushed a lot
of outright false material into the popular press over the years.  

Since Slick 50 has run so much legitimate research and published with the
SAE most of the negative information has dried up.  But, a lot of old, false
material remains in the record and probably will for a long time.

So far as why the auto industry hasn't adopted Slick 50 as standard
equipment, I don't know.  The old negatives may be some reason why.  The
mainline oil industry and its scientists are much closer to the auto
industry that Slick 50 has ever been.  As a part of the Quaker State group
of companies that may change.

Then there is money (which should probably be listed first).  The auto
industry doesn't really enjoy that fine a reputation among the general
public.  Also, anyone familiar with first fill and OEM economics will tell
you, it's tough to get rich supplying the auto industry.  It may well be
that being a "high tech product on the OUTSIDE of the old boy network" is
better for Slick 50 than becoming a part of the group that has given us
side-saddle gas tanks, exploding Pintos, Chrysler mini-van door latches, get the idea, hundreds upon thousands of technical failures
and shortcomings.  

Slick 50 may never want to be original equipment.  But, either way, it has
only been in the past few yeares that Slick 50 has produced the kind of
serious test data automakers need. The unfortunate part about that is that
the fuel and lubricants experts inside the industry long ago staked out
positions on Slick 50, most of them negative.  It's hard to change when you
have argued against something for so long.

Then there is the famous reticence to adopt new technology, especially
technology not invented within their network.  How long did consumers wait
for suspect technologies such as radial tires, gas shocks, rectangular
headlights?  Again, the list is long.

Who knows what the future will bring.  The oil and auto industries are
increasingly desperate for new wear fighting chemistries to support the
demands on oil.  Components of Slick 50 technology may well find their way
into that mix. 

Hope this isn't too much.  But, felt I ought to offer you some thoughts.

Doug Ross

Back to the Garage

20 January, 2002