In the Matter of




The Federal Trade Commission, having reason to believe that Prolong Super Lubricants, Inc., a corporation ("respondent"), has violated the provisions of the Federal Trade Commission Act, and it appearing to the Commission that this proceeding is in the public interest, alleges:

1. Respondent Prolong Super Lubricants, Inc. is a Nevada corporation with its principal office or place of business at 6 Thomas, Irvine, CA 92618.

2. Respondent has advertised, labeled, offered for sale, sold, and distributed products to the public, including Prolong Engine Treatment Concentrate, a motor oil additive ("Prolong ETC").

3. The acts and practices of respondent alleged in this complaint have been in or affecting commerce, as "commerce" is defined in Section 4 of the Federal Trade Commission Act.

4. Respondent has disseminated or has caused to be disseminated advertisements for Prolong ETC, including but not necessarily limited to the attached Exhibits A through C. These advertisements contain the following statements, demonstrations, and other visual depictions:

A. A program-length television advertisement for Prolong-branded products, entitled "The Prolong World Challenge" (Exhibit A):
(1) Host: "...Prolong is here to set the record straight, with some amazing proof to demonstrate why experts are saying, 'Prolong has no equal in the world!' In fact, Prolong is so superior to other lubricants, they're offering a $1 million world challenge." (Exhibit A, p. 3)
. . . .
(2) The "Duel in the Desert" Demonstration
Announcer: "We have automobiles, trucks and motorcycles representing almost every kind of vehicle manufacturer...A pick-up truck with over 100,000 miles...These vehicles have been treated with the patented Prolong Engine Treatment, and drained of all their engine oil." (pp. 4-5)
. . .
Yeager: {Previously identified in on-screen super as "Steve Yeager World Series MVP"}: I just saw him drain the oil from my vehicle, and I really have my doubts if this car will go out there, with the inclines, and the downhills and the curves, and not overheat, and just freeze up. (p. 6)
. . .
{Ad depicts vehicles driving laps in the desert after their oil has allegedly been drained. One driver is identified as "Al Unser, 4 time Indy 500 Winner."}
. . .
{After unspecified lapse of time}
Unser: I just didn't believe that it would make it...and the thing is still running good. The oil light never went off, or the gauge ever moved...I ran almost 90 mph!...With no oil in it. (pp. 33-34)
. . . .
(3) The "Friction Test Machine Demonstration"
Announcer: "The automotive professionals of J.E. Pistons...will witness the world challenge as Prolong is compared to other well-known lubricants. (p. 7)
Host: Elton's [Elton Alderman, President of respondent] using a torque bar on a friction test machine to apply tremendous pressure on a static bearing against a spinning race...Pressure is added until the test lubricant fails, damaging the bearing and seizing the motor...Professionals use a torque wrench to apply extreme pressure to accurately measure the shock load engines experience on start-up. (p. 7)

{Ad depicts various lubricants being poured into the machine, and pressure being applied. After each lubricant is tested, the screen shows the bearing with its "wear scar" from the pressure that was applied. The size of the "wear scar" varies from lubricant to lubricant.}

First Pennzoil was tested. {Super: "Certified Test."} Look at the bearing up close, as certified by a licensed professional engineer, and you can see the severe damage." {Super: "Failed."} {Ad depicts bearing with large "wear scar."} Next, look at the wear with Castrol Syntech, a leading synthetic oil, tested under the same load. {Super: "Failed."} {Ad depicts bearing with large "wear scar."} Then Slick 50 Engine Treatment was tested. {Super: "Failed."} {Ad depicts bearing with large "wear scar."} They all ended up with severe damage...{The ad depicts other lubricants being tested and "failing," with large "wear scars."} (pp. 7-8)
. . .
{Ad depicts machine continuing to run after a small amount of Prolong ETC is applied.}
. . .
Now, let's test the Prolong Engine Treatment! Watch as the torque wrench applies the maximum shock load of over 200,000 pounds per square inch at point-to-point contact....The motor continues to run with no strain, as shown by the amp meter. (p. 10)....{Ad depicts bearing with very small "wear scar."} After all this tremendous abuse, you can see that the other lubricants don't even come close to comparing! Indisputable proof that Prolong has no equal in the world! {Super: No Equal In The World}" (pp. 10-11)
. . . .

(4) Consumer endorser: "Once the product is into the motor, and found the friction points, and taking care of those friction points, that same engine made eight more horsepower! {Super: Lee Chapin, AVP Mktg. Mikuni American Corp}" (p. 11)

. . . .

(5) The "Test Tube" Demonstration:

{Ad depicts a bearing partially submerged in lubricant in a test tube, which is then heated.}

Announcer: "We coated a test bearing with a well-known engine treatment that was heated and left for a short period of time. Look at the corrosion on the bearing, just from the fumes! And look at the bottom which was actually submerged! When Prolong is put to the same test, look at the difference with its anti-corrosion formula! The high temperatures in your engine can cause lubricants to break down and become corrosive. ...But Prolong's patented formula fights corrosion, and extends the life of your car, which saves you money! {Super: "Fights Corrosion."} (pp. 13-14)
. . . .
(6) Consumer endorser: "I ran 30 miles with no oil, no oil pressure, with the oil light staring me directly in the eye, and the car kept going. The last ten years I haven't won a race. Now starting using Prolong, two years later I'm winning races now. {Dan Mathews, Race Car Builder/Driver}" (p. 17)
(7) Guerrero [Identified earlier in ad as Roberto Guerrero, Indy 500 Single Lap Speed Record Holder.]: "If it's going to work on the race car, it's going to work on the road car 100 times better, so it really is amazing." (p. 17)
(8) The "Four-Hour Drive" Demonstration
{Ad depicts two women driving a car which has been treated with Prolong ETC and then allegedly had the oil, oil filter, and oil plug removed.}

Announcer: "...Sandra Bartley has gone an unbelievable four hours and 40 minutes with no oil, no oil filter, or oil plug! {Super: "4 HR 40 MIN 7 SEC"} She's been in stop-and-go city traffic on a hot summer day in Southern California. Freeway driving above 60 miles per hour, as well as steep hills which really put a strain on the engine." (p. 23)
. . . .
(9) Announcer: "Today's motor oils are better than ever. But they have their limitations! Friction causes heat which leads to engine wear, poor performance, lower gas mileage and even engine breakdown. {Super: "Friction Causes Engine Wear; Poor Performance; Lower Gas Mileage"} Prolong Engine Treatment turns any motor oil into a super lubricant. {Super: "Turns Any Motor Oil Into a Super Lubricant."} Prolong is specially formulated to bond to the metal, creating a low-friction surface, one molecule thick, that lubricates your engine on start-up, whether it's 20 below and freezing cold, or 100-plus in scorching heat. This means you prolong engine life! {Super: "Prolong Engine Life! Improve Performance! Increase Gas Mileage!"} Improve performance, and increase gas mileage...." (p. 18)
. . . .

(10) Consumer Endorser: "This transmission was probably due for some serious service, like being rebuilt, and I decided well, I'll put it off, and I just "Prolonged" it, and it held in there for, like I say, another 40 to 50,000 miles! {Ken McClintick, Aerospace Engineer}" (p. 21)

(11) "Sand in the Engine" Demonstration
Announcer: "...Elton [Alderman, President of respondent] has drained the oil on a Chrysler V-8 engine, and you can see it's empty by the window installed in the oil pan...And now he's going to do something you have to see to believe! ...{Super: "For Demonstration Purposes Only; Always Follow MFG Instructions"} All these demonstrations show you that Prolong can protect your engine, even under extreme conditions!" (p. 24)

{Ad depicts sand being poured in the motor, then the water hose being cut and the engine being revved up. The engine keeps running.}
. . . .
Host: "...It's not only running but it's running smoothly. {Super: "5000 RPM -- No Oil! No Water! 10 lbs. Sand In The Engine"}...We've taken all of the oil out, all of the water out, it's been treated with Prolong, we've poured sand on the engine, and it's still running as if it were a brand new engine!" (p.27)
. . . .
(12) Announcer: "Whether your car is old or new, the sooner you add Prolong, the better! {Super: "The Sooner, The Better"} Because up to 70% of friction and wear occurs at start-up {Super: "70% Engine Damage on Start-Up"}, before your engine is coated with motor oil! Friction causes heat, which leads to engine wear, poor performance, lower gas mileage, and even engine breakdown. {Super: "Friction Causes Engine Wear; Poor Performance; Lower Gas Mileage"}" (p. 29)

(13) SUPER: "Jim Snelling, First Lane Racing School"

Snelling: "Starting a car first thing in the morning, 'cause there's no oil protecting that motor. None. There's no friction protection at all. Now what you get, and most people don't understand is, that's where you get the wear and tear on rings and pistons. And over a period of years, that's what wears on motors, and that's why you have to have it re-ringed and re-valved, and everything else!...{Referring to Prolong Engine Treatment Concentrate bottle} I think you've got something that's going to protect that, I definitely think you do." (p. 30)
. . . .
B. Prolong Engine Treatment Concentrate Bottle Labeling (Exhibit B)
"Prolongs Engine Life"
C. Promotional Brochure (Exhibit C):
(1) "'This report describes friction and wear testing of Prolong Engine Treatment...110 tests performed. The product was found to have a significant wear reducing effect...friction was reduced up to 51.6%, temperature was reduced up to 38.67% and wear was reduced up to 78%.' Sintef Laboratories, Report No. STF18 F87013"

(2) "'A lonely road can be even lonelier without Prolong protection.' We hope that you will never have to drive your car for miles without oil in 150 degree desert road temperatures, but its [sic] nice to know its [sic] been done successfully using Prolong Engine Treatment."

5. Through the means described in Paragraph 4, including but not limited to the below-enumerated subsections of Paragraph 4, respondent has represented, expressly or by implication, that:

A. Compared to motor oil alone, Prolong ETC:
(1) Reduces engine wear at start-up [Subsections A(9), A(12), A(13)]; and

(2) Extends the duration of engine life [Subsections A(5), A(9), B(1)];
B. Prolong ETC:
(1) Reduces corrosion in engines [Subsection A(5)]; and

(2) Protects against engine breakdowns [Subsections A(2), A(8), A(9), A(11)-(13), C(2)];
C. Benefits that may be achieved through use of Prolong ETC in race cars or under racing conditions can be achieved in ordinary automobiles in conventional use [Subsections A(6), A(7)]; and

D. Testimonials from consumers appearing in the advertisements for Prolong ETC reflect the typical or ordinary experience of members of the public who use the products.
6. Through the means described in Paragraph 4, respondent has represented, expressly or by implication, that it possessed and relied upon a reasonable basis that substantiated the representations set forth in Paragraph 5, at the time the representations were made.

7. In truth and in fact, respondent did not possess and rely upon a reasonable basis that substantiated the representations set forth in Paragraph 5, at the time the representations were made. Therefore, the representation set forth in Paragraph 6 was, and is, false or misleading.

8. The acts and practices of respondent as alleged in this complaint constitute unfair or deceptive acts or practices in or affecting commerce in violation of Section 5(a) of the Federal Trade Commission Act.

THEREFORE, the Federal Trade Commission this day of , 1999, has issued this complaint against respondent.

By the Commission.

Donald S. Clark