Engine oil drain intervals on heavy duty trucks can vary widely - from 10,000 to 50,000 miles - depending upon many factors. If you are considering extending your oil drains, here are some things you need to know.
There are three main categories of influencers when it comes to determining when to change your oil: engine age and design, driving conditions and properties of the oil. Each of these correlates to the efficiency of the engine, which influences oil life most.
Engine design has changed dramatically in recent years with improvements in materials and manufacturing processes that improve an engine's overall efficiency. Original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) are balancing a need for smaller components with the desire to extend oil drain intervals. For example, sump size is an important design element. If an engine has a larger sump with more oil to circulate, the oil will cool better, filter more easily, release entrained air better, and typically last longer than in an engine with a smaller sump. Fuels and fuel delivery systems have changed, too. Improved combustion and efficiency play an important role in the life of the oil. The cleaner the fuel burns, the longer the oil will last.
Just as with fuel efficiency, driving conditions also affect the life of engine oil. Extreme temperatures, high humidity, dust, heavy power demands and frequent stops and starts are all detrimental to the life of the oil.
Heavy-duty trucks operate in a wide variety of applications where fuel efficiency can vary from 2.5 to 7.5 mpg. An oil viscosity of 15W-40 is recommended by most OEM's. Premium engine oils are designed using a combination of high quality base oils, viscosity index improvers (VII) and additives to control soot, corrosion and wear. As fuel efficiency and emissions regulations become stricter, OEMs are creating engines that run more smoothly and cleanly. Therefore, lower viscosity oils can be used to provide an additional level of fuel efficiency without sacrificing protection. Soon, 15W-40 oils will be replaced by 10W-30 and 5W-30 oils to meet fuel efficiency requirements.
As these changes continue happening, it will become increasingly important for heavy-duty truck fleets to use premium engine oils, especially for those who choosing to extend their engine oil drain intervals. Talk to your FS Energy Specialist if you are interested in extending the drain intervals of your engine oil.