It is no secret: engines are the workhorse of any truck. Keeping truck engines running at maximum efficiency should be the goal of any budget-savvy fleet manager.
Few things can bring an operation to a halt as quickly as trucks that cannot move. A crucial part of understanding the life and conditions of your engines is to understand the engine oil that you are putting into it.
There are a lot of moving parts in an engine, and all those parts can create a lot of heat.
“Engine oils play a vital role in maintaining the efficiency and operation of work truck engines,” explained Darryl Purificati, OEM Technical Liaison for Petro-Canada Lubricants. “High-quality lubricants help minimize metal-to-metal contact between moving components, reducing pumping and cranking losses, and therefore improving the engine’s efficiency.”
The prevention of this metal-to-metal contact will also help a fleet manager save money, not only on the repairs but also downtime related to maintenance, keeping trucks moving and productive.
With so many lubricant types and grades, it can become a bit daunting to know where to start when choosing your engine oil.
4 Tips for Oil Selection
Purificati recommended following these four tips to choose the right engine oil for your fleet:
- Consult the OEM. The first step should always be to consult an original equipment manufacturer (OEM) vehicle manual. The manual will show the recommended engine oil’s “SAE grade.”
Purificati described the SAE grade as “...a measure of the oil’s viscosity. The viscosity of the oil dictates its ability to flow and move around the engine to lubricate its inner workings. In cold conditions, if the oil’s viscosity is too high (and the oil is too thick), it may not move around the engine easily. The lack of movement delays the lubrication of vital engine components resulting in increased engine wear.”
Knowing whether the truck will operate in cold conditions leads to the next step.
- Know the Environment. While knowing the recommended engine oil type given in the OEM provides an excellent baseline of what the engine needs, it is now essential to look at the environments that the engine will be operating within.
Each oil operates best within temperature ranges. Keep in mind that a “W” appearing after the SAE grade denotes “winter.” That means the oil will provide better protection for crucial engine parts in colder temperatures.
- Lubricant Types. Understanding the differences in engine lubricant types will help narrow the field of options down. The three types of engine lubricants are conventional, synthetic-blend, and full synthetic.
While synthetic and synthetic blends offer better performance and a more extensive range of weather conditions to operate in, it comes with a price tag that can be twice as high as conventional oil.
Conventional oil can save on the pocketbook but usually requires more frequent oil changes.Keep in mind that some engines need a particular type of lubricant.
- Oil Analysis Program. An oil analysis program will allow small problems to be addressed before they become a much larger and more expensive problem and should be incorporating into a regular maintenance schedule.
The Bottom Line
No matter what engine oil is used, make sure that it is reputable and tested.
“Looking for proof of API CK-4 or FA-4 certifications as well as OEM approval is important to demonstrate the oil’s compliance with strict industry standards,” Purificati offered. “For example, Petro-Canada Lubricants puts its DURON product through rigorous and comprehensive testing.”
Follow these steps to help keep your fleet operating at its best.