ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The discount chain Dollar General is being accused by the attorney general of New Mexico of false advertising and unfair trade practices for selling what he describes as obsolete motor oil.
A lawsuit filed Monday in state district court in Santa Fe follows numerous other legal complaints levied against the company in recent years over the sale of the motor oil to customers in Texas, Wisconsin and elsewhere.
The New Mexico lawsuit claims the chain knowingly marketed, distributed and sold its own brand of oil from 2010 through February 2017, although it was not suitable for use by many customers.
Some types of the oil were not recommended for vehicles made after 1988, while one specific formula wasn’t suitable for motors manufactured after 1930, the lawsuit states.
The use of obsolete oil causes extensive damage to newer engines and emission control systems, including catalytic converters and oxygen sensors. The lawsuit says damage to those systems can result in the increased emissions of toxic substances and carcinogens into the air.
“Putting New Mexicans’ valuable property and safety at risk is unacceptable, and companies that harm our communities and profit by taking money out of the pockets of our families will face consequences for their bad acts,” state Attorney General Hector Balderas said in a statement Tuesday.
The state contends that Dollar General failed to adequately warn customers about the limitations of the oil when it came to modern engines.
Balderas wants the court to order Dollar General to develop a state-approved program for notifying customers about the oil. He also wants the company to pay for any repairs or replace vehicles if necessary for those customers who used the oil.
Dollar General spokeswoman Crystal Ghassemi said the company has not yet received the lawsuit and could not comment specifically on the allegations.
However, she said the company has been committed for more than 75 years to providing quality products at low prices.
“We are confident that our DG-branded motor oil products meet not only our standards for quality and value, but also all applicable federal and state labeling requirements where they are sold,” she said.
The labeling on the oil contains “obvious and unambiguous language” regarding its intended and appropriate use, Ghassemi said.
Dollar General has 87 stores in New Mexico, many located in suburban communities and rural areas.