Overdrive Magazine

September 2020

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36 | Overdrive | September 2020 E xtending oil drain inter- vals has been a hot topic for years as operators look to reduce oil costs and maintenance downtime. Even as engine makers give the green light for longer inter- vals, not all customers are taking advantage of the longer periods. When the current-generation CK-4 and FA-4 oils were released in late 2016, many engine original equipment manufacturers boosted oil drain intervals for model-year 2017 and newer engines by as much as 15,000 miles under certain con- ditions and duty cycles. For many new trucks, top intervals now can fall in the 40,000- to 60,000-mile range and under strict conditions can even approach 80,000 miles. The engine size and application have a strong bearing on intervals allowed under warranty. For large carriers – often embold- ened by a more direct relationship with their dealer, which can give them certain advantages in mainte- nance practices – the longer intervals probably added an extra margin of security, as many of them already were extending oil drains well beyond original equipment maker recom- mendations. "At the other end of the spec- trum, although it is hard to believe, there are still people changing oil at extremely short intervals, as low as 15,000 miles," said Jami Melani, field engineering/heavy-duty technical ser- vices manager for BP/Castrol. Several factors have led engine OEMs to allow extended drains. Modern engines generate less soot, and ultra-low-sulfur diesel fuel has lowered acid levels in oil, helping improve the oil's ability to protect metal parts. "It's a little milder environment in the crankcase these days," said Stede Granger, technical services manager for Shell Lubricants. "Changing your oil doesn't hurt the truck a bit, but draining at 20,000 miles these days is really probably overkill." Paul Cigala, applications engineer for Exxon Mobil Commercial Vehicle Lubricants, said owner-operators and small carriers tend to be more conservative and hesitant to change cyclical maintenance intervals. "To them, oil is a cheap option, and they're willing to change it out early," Cigala said. The oil change interval "either fits into their service intervals, their inspections … it fits into something. Hard to teach an old dog new tricks." Most large carriers meet or go beyond OEM-recommended inter- vals, said James Booth, commercial sector manager for Chevron Delo. "Small to medium fleets, especially private fleets, are not practicing the latest drain intervals, and this is defi- nitely the case for owner-operators," Booth said. Melani said the owner-operator philosophy that "oil is cheap, just change it" can add up to significant costs over time. The price of oil and the labor of changing it aren't the only costs to consider, Booth said. "Often more significant in magnitude is the down- time and lost productivity – for both truck and driver – taking a truck to a maintenance facility, and the time for the oil service to be conducted," he said. Granger said other maintenance items on the truck often factor into EXTENDED OIL DRAINS MET WITH CAUTION When the current-generation CK-4 and FA-4 oils were released in 2016, many engine makers boosted oil drain intervals for model-year 2017 and newer engines. BY JASON CANNON

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