Engine oil forms a key part of a fleet’s lifeline, directly impacting operational and fuel expenses. As a result, the type of oil your truck fleet uses can mean the difference between profit and loss.
Over the years, intensive research has led to newer engine oil technologies giving fleet owners multiple oil options for their trucks. Even so, the adoption rate of these advancements has been meager, a trend common in the trucking industry.
Even with the multiple benefits, these new, technologically advanced oils promise, truck companies and fleet owners remain skeptical mainly because of the possible cost implications.
You might be interested in reading our article about 25 ways to reduce truck fleet costs.
So how do you find the right oil and additives for your truck fleet? Here’s what you’d want to consider:
- the oil’s resistance to breakdown and oxidation
- engine protection at extreme temperatures, and
- fuel economy
Choosing the Right Oil and Additives for Your Fleet
When selecting engine oil for your trucks, the focus points are viscosity, primary base stock, and performance level.
Engine oil viscosity or resistance to flow is denoted by numbers representing the viscosity in the temperature extremes. For instance, 5W-30s indicates the oil’s viscosity at 0°F is 5 and 30 at 212° F. The greater the digits, the higher the thickness.
Highly viscous oils provide superior engine protection by coating the parts more precisely and providing better lubrication. In colder weather, the heavy oils become even thicker and less effective. On the other hand, engine oils with low viscosity work best in cold conditions and provide enhanced fuel efficiency. With temperature rise, the less viscous oils become thinner, leading to reduced engine protection.
While considering the climatic conditions under which your trucks operate, strike a balance between the two extremes of oil density.
Engine manufacturers usually recommend using oils of specific viscosity for optimum longevity. This is the most important consideration for the engine oil thickness you need to use in your truck.
2. Primary Base Stock
The American Petroleum Institute (API) categorizes oils into four groups depending on the base stocks used in their formulation. Group I-III contains traditional mineral oils in different degrees, with Group I being the lowest quality, having the least viscosity index, and highest sulfur content. Group IV oils are derived from chemical molecules such as polyalphaolefin.
Another category, Group V that doesn’t contain any of the base stocks in the four above, exists. However, Group V oils are usually used as additives to other base oils.
While Group IV is the only true synthetic oil, API labels Group III as synthetic due to its performance similarities to group IV.
Some engine oils contain synthetic blend base stocks, which comprise mineral oils and synthetic oils in specific proportions.
Modern technological advancements in truck engine lubricants have produced newer oils with improved performance. CK-4 and FA-4 oils are the latest versions designed to meet the strict demands of current engines with tighter tolerances and clearances to allow them to last longer while remaining efficient.
Compared to the previous engine and diesel oils (such as CJ-4), CK-4 and FA-4 are more resistant to oxidation, aeration, and shear. CK-4s are a progression of CJ-4 oils and can be used in place of diesel oils such as CH-4. But remember, FA-4 is only intended for use in engines designed from 2017 onwards.
While CK-4 and FA-4 oil technology makes them superior to the previous engine oil generations, you need to exercise caution when choosing oil for your truck fleet. For instance, only use FA-4 oils if your engine manufacturer recommends.
From 15W-40 to CK-4 and FA-4, engine oil technologies have undergone significant transformations in recent years. With better shear stability and improved resistance to aeration or oxidation, the current engine oils help you maintain your fleet’s longevity and efficiency.