A host of factors are at play when determining the ideal lubricant and drain interval combination for your fleet’s power units. Based on service duty levels and other factors, today’s heavy duty engines have recommended drain intervals ranging between 7,500 and 50,000 miles, a wide margin indeed. Fleets comprised of multiple engine brands and models further complicate the issue and make it more difficult to identify a single combination suitable for all assets. When determining the optimal system for your fleet, there are a few major points to consider:
- Existing maintenance and inspection schedules – Traditionally, oil drains have been a focal point of most preventive maintenance schedules. Consequently, things like steering system checks, fluid checks, chassis greasing, oil filter changes, fuel filter changes, tire and brake inspections have typically been performed as part of a regularly scheduled PM process, often designed around oil drains. While increased drain intervals are generally considered a good thing, it is imperative that the rest of your PM process does not experience the same extended time lapse.
- Engine manufacturer recommendations – As a rule of thumb, you should always start with your OEM’s recommendations. Our friends at Chevron have compiled a comprehensive list of OEM recommendations that will certainly speed up your research. See it here. It is important to adhere to OEM recommendations for two fundamental reasons:
- Maintaining warranty compliance
- Recommendations are based on extensive testing
- Quality of lubricants used – As engine designs have improved over time, so have the oils required to properly lubricate them. The Engine Manufactures Association and the American Petroleum Institute work hand-in-hand to develop and define oil quality standards that keep up with the latest engine design improvements. Two new standard categories (API CK-4 and API FA-4) are set for release December 1, 2016. The current top quality standard in place is API CJ-4. More detailed information about API oil quality standards is available here.
- Service duty level (Severe / Normal / Light) – It is vital to understand the actual service duty levels that your assets perform day to day. Service duty levels are defined differently by each engine manufacturer but are generally determined using the following factors:
- Fuel consumption (MPG)
- Annual mileage
- Average idle time %
- Gross weight
- Vocational vehicle applications (Agriculture, Concrete Mixers, Refuse)
- Ambient temperatures in operating environments should also be taken into account when choosing the proper lubricant. Some viscosities are better suited for extreme temperatures than others.
The fast paced, competitive nature of the trucking industry, paired with ever-changing regulations and technologies, can make an efficient PM program seem like a moving target. If you’d like to see how Sharp HES can keep your organization on target, contact us today to discuss a custom On-Site PM program for your fleet.