Five Steps to Selecting a Heavy-Duty Diesel Engine Oil
Heavy-duty vehicles need to run efficiently, which means operators and maintenance technicians often look at key aspects of their vehicle to identify possible efficiencies. This should be a holistic process as there are a host of factors that can impact fuel economy and overall fleet efficiency, with driver behavior, idling, truck upgrades such as trailer skirts and other factors all playing a role.
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For engine efficiency and fuel economy, selecting the correct engine oil is fundamental to help reduce fuel consumption and carbon emissions, as well as reducing unscheduled maintenance.
Engine oils play a vital role in protecting engine components by minimizing metal-to-metal contact between moving components while reducing pumping and rotational losses. This helps prevent wear that can lead to unscheduled maintenance and downtime and improves engine performance and therefore fuel economy.
When selecting a heavy-duty engine oil, fleet managers and operators should follow five essential steps:
Seek advice from the original equipment manufacturer (OEM)
The process should always start by consulting the OEM manual for advice on oil selection. If further advice is required, the OEM can be contacted directly for information and advice based on engine specification.
Consider the operating conditions
The environment and engine operating conditions should be the next consideration when selecting a heavy duty engine oil.
The temperature range in which lubricants can perform optimally is indicated by its SAE grade, which is 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 weather, if the viscosity of the oil is too high, it can resist movement and delay lubrication of vital engine components, which can lead to increased engine wear. Under these conditions, low viscosity motor oils, such as SAE 5W-40 or 0W-40, are more suitable because they allow the oil to flow better at lower ambient temperatures.
For fleets operating in warmer regions, a multigrade heavy-duty engine lubricant with an SAE 10W-30 or 15W-40 viscosity may be more appropriate. These grades of oil resist breakdown associated with higher temperatures to allow proper flow and lubrication of critical engine components.
Compare synthetic and non-synthetic motor oils
Full-synthetic and full-synthetic motor oils provide better stability than conventional oils and improved performance in varying weather conditions. Synthetic blends can also improve engine protection and performance under certain operating conditions.
Full synthetic oils are formulated with synthetic base oils and are blended with high quality and often unique performance enhancing additives. These generally offer a higher level of performance than conventional and synthetic lubricants due to the superior formulation components.
Request proof of performance
Oils must meet strict global regulations, such as API CK-4 and FA-4 for fleets in North America, so it is important that proof of this and any OEM approvals can be provided. Testimonials and case studies are also valuable examples of real-world use, as are the tests performed by the lubricant manufacturer.
A clear example of this is the rigorous and comprehensive testing that HF Sinclair submits to its Petro-Canada DURON Lubricants products to demonstrate the superior performance and long-term durability of DURON.
Seek support from an expert lubricant manufacturer
The final step in making an informed lubricant choice is to seek expert support and advice from a reputable lubricant manufacturer. Expert lubricant manufacturers have teams with experienced lubricant technical advisors who can provide advice based on specific requirements, and they also invest significantly in comprehensive testing of product lines, so they can provide recommendations of informed and invaluable lubricants for a fleet and its operational needs.
For fleets looking for increased efficiency, the right choice of lubricant can improve fuel economy, engine performance and help reduce unscheduled downtime. However, selecting the best heavy-duty engine oil for a fleet is a complex task that requires expert knowledge and experience. It is therefore essential that professional advice is sought throughout the process to help maintain proper lubrication and select the most appropriate engine oil for your fleet.
This article was written by Darryl Purificati, OEM Technical Liaison for Petro-Canada Lubricants.