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A hydraulic fluid so bad, its been banned!

Tags :  fluid-basics  |  hydraulic-fluid  |  hydraulic-oil  |  oil  | 

Neil from Messick's here with today's Three-Minute Thursday. Today's short conversation is going to be about a recent news article that I came across referencing a discontinued hydraulic oil from 1974 that you'll still find on store shelves today. 

 

[music] 

 

I might be a little weird, but hydraulic fluids is actually one of my favourite topics. It's really because I see so much misunderstanding about this topic out there on the internet. There's definitely a significant subset of people out there who seem to really not understand what goes into one of these buckets of oil. Reality is that there's a lot of engineering for a lot of very different applications that goes into these fluids and they can be radically different from one to the next. One is not like the other. Also, a lot of people seem to think that it's okay to use whatever you want as long as it meets the specifications. You'll see that a lot. The reality is that there is actually no specifications for hydraulic fluids. 

 

Engine oils do have specifications like 10W-30 and those kinds of things, but there are no mandated government minimums for hydraulic fluids. They're all made to a manufacturer's recipe or formula that isn't necessarily published and known. It is their bit. When you see on the back of a bucket of oil, "Meets compatibility for products X, Y, Z," that is the opinion of the people who bottled that oil, that that oil should be okay in those applications. There's not huge amounts of material science and knowledge behind those statements. 

 

This news article just came out here and popped up to me as being really interesting and something I thought worth sharing you guys, because I think it's really applicable to that conversation and that baseline knowledge. The state of North Carolina, their standards division within their state government, recently put a stop-sale order out on a hydraulic fluid known as J303. J303 is a hydraulic fluid that you'll find for sale in most of your rural box stores, and some of your auto parts stores will sell it as well. It's branded as a generic tractor hydraulic fluid. Typically, you'll see it for sale in the $30-35 range for a five-gallon pail. It's a super inexpensive product. One has to wonder why is this happening? 

 

The J303 standard is actually a John Deere hydraulic fluid standard that was discontinued in 1974, so, a solid 45 years ago they stopped using this stuff, but it continues to be bottled and sold today as a generic THF (Tractor Hydraulic Fluid). You can assume that that's being done for price, right? It's so that they can sell that at a really, really low price point. The state of North Carolina actually stepped in on this one and removed that from sale in their state because the standards division was looking at this oil and saying that it's not actually properly specified for use in any modern equipment. Their concern was that the residents of that state were being fleeced into buying this product that wasn't right for use of their machinery. So, they came out and removed it from sale. 

 

They came out with a whole bunch of other things here as well, changing the way that a lot of that labelling is done and those references are made between different products, but just really interesting to me that you're seeing not just a dealer now, not just a manufacturer saying this stuff, but the state actually stepping in and saying that some of those really low-dollar products really don't belong in your equipment. So, another encouragement from us to simply put good fluids and good products in your equipment. We're much more concerned that you're taking that piece of equipment and you're treating it well so that it's going to operate properly for the lifetime. 

 

We do absolutely see problems when these kinds of products are dumped into your tractor. Just be really cautious about what you're doing because you can cause problems by skimping for a couple of bucks on a five-gallon pail of oil that's going to be in there for hundreds of hours. If you're going through the process of servicing any of your equipment, we've got a great group of guys here that can help you out with all of your parts and service needs. Our parts hotline for the guys that are going to get you hooked up with those oils and filters and stuff that are appropriate for your application is (877) 260-3528 or you can pick most of this stuff up on our website at messicks.com 

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