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PQIA Shines Light on “303” Tractor Hydraulic Fluid

The Petroleum Quality Institute of America released a Bulletin this week addresing the actions taken by the states of Missouri, Georgia, and North Carolina issuing stop-sale orders for tractor hydraulic fluid (THF) labeled, claimed or implied as meeting THF 303. The bulletin provides important insight on the quality of “303” THFs in the market.


The bulletin reports that although each of the ten J20C samples of THF examined by PQIA meet the viscosity requirements for that specification, 21 out of 23 (or 91%) of the samples of 303 PQIA examined failed to meet the viscosity requirements for the current J20C specification, and J20A which has been obsolete since 1989. What’s more, if you go back to J14B, a specification obsolete since 1978, 17 (or 74%) of the “303” samples still fail to meet the viscosity requirements. In addition to failing the John Deere specifications, the viscosities of the “303” samples examined also come up short in applications where other OEM lubricant specifications are called for, including: AGCO, Case, New Holland, Massey-Ferguson, White, and Kubota.

But what the PQIA says should be the “most concerning and compelling number to consider among the odds is the 100% chance of not knowing if a “303” THF meets the requirements of, or is suitable for use in a tractor when the product label fails to provide the purchaser with information about the specifications the product meets and its intended use.”

For these reasons, the Petroleum Quality Institute of America says it supports the actions by the states of Missouri, Georgia, and North Carolina to remove THF products from the market that fail to provide buyers with the information needed to make an informed buying decision, and prevents states, PQIA and others from testing the fluids to help ensure compliance with specifications. In addition, PQIA encourages other states to follow the lead of MO, GA, and NC in stopping sale on these products while providing lubricant manufacturers and marketers time to clear the system of 303 and label its products appropriately. Further, PQIA encourages the lubricants industry to adopt an existing manufacturer’s specification as the minimum requirement to meet the needs of tractor owners looking to service older equipment with an economical fluid, and to include warnings on labels of product only meeting obsolete specifications. Because in the absence of this, the unfortunate reality is that consumers’ equipment will remain at risk and the 303s will continue to unfairly tilt the playing field against responsible lubricant manufacturers and marketers. CLICK FOR BULLETIN

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