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Paving The Way for Heavy Duty Synthetic Oil

Paving The Way for Heavy Duty Synthetic Oil

By Shawn Whitacre/Chevron

With fuel prices rising, delivery deadlines getting tighter, and truck drivers in short supply, fleet operators continue to look for ways to streamline their operations and reduce operating and maintenance costs. It means more than focusing only on the initial purchase price of the truck, but instead on reducing the total cost of vehicle ownership.

Fleet operators want improved durability in their trucks to limit turnover and to lower capital expenditures over the long term. They need greater reliability to help increase overall fleet productivity. And they need greater efficiency from their vehicles to decrease their operating costs and fuel spend.

Hardware designs have evolved significantly over the last 30 years to keep up with demands of increasingly stringent regulations. With each change, new demands have been placed on the lubricating oil. With tighter tolerances between components, today’s advanced engine technologies achieve greater efficiency, but are more sensitive and run much hotter than previous designs. And when the engine runs hotter, so too does the oil, which has prompted new demands on oil quality.

Like most things, too much heat can stress the oil. It makes it more vulnerable to breakdown, which can cause it to degrade. Severely oxidized oil will become much thicker than when the oil was new, and can also become acidic and attack internal components like bearings and bushings. Oxidized oil also contributes to deposit formation in places like the turbocharger and power cylinder. Elevated temperatures can also cause a portion of the oil to evaporate, which can impact oil consumption and further accelerate degradation.

Of course, engines and the oils that protect them must be robust not only at elevated temperatures but also at the very low temperatures encountered upon winter startup. Fluids that can handle these wide temperature swings have what oil formulators call high “viscosity index.”  Increasingly, we turn to synthetic oils that, when formulated with high performance additives, deliver on the high stability, low volatility, and high viscosity index that today’s operators demand.

It’s helpful to understand the difference between conventional and synthetic oils. Conventional oils are made from refined crude oil and undergo further processing to remove harmful impurities and to further tailor their properties. In contrast, synthetic base oils are purposely built chemicals that are synthesized to deliver high performance. Synthetic base oils are generally less volatile, and more chemically stable than conventional base oils. Yet, they are particularly robust at low temperatures as well.

Of course, it is not just the synthetic base oil that delivers these properties, but also the additive package that is unique to each producer. The greatest potential for high performance comes from the optimal combination of synthetic oils and additive formulation expertise. The properties we often attribute to synthetics are actually the result of the additives working with the base oil to produce the desired performance. More simply stated, not all synthetics are created equal.

With the trend toward smaller, technologically advanced heavy-duty engines, we have seen a parallel trend toward lower viscosity lubricants. This is leading logically to the wider use of synthetic blends, and ultimately, full synthetic engine oils. With the right additive formulations, synthetic lubricants will help deliver on the goals of lower emissions and high fuel economy that truck manufacturers have been working towards. Fleet managers would do well to understand the benefits of synthetics and to prepare for this transition as they upgrade their fleets.

Shrader Tire and Oil can help meet all of your heavy duty synthetic oil needs. Contact our customer service department today at 800-589-6589 and ask about our products and services. We keep the transportation industry rolling and safe!

One Answer to Soaring Diesel Fuel Prices: A Different Engine Oil

One Answer to Soaring Diesel Fuel Prices: A Different Engine Oil

By SHAWN WHITACRE/For Chevron

With diesel fuel prices surging north of $5.00 per gallon across the country, fleet operators are looking for more ways to control their biggest operating expense by increasing fuel economy. Most likely you are already doing all you can to improve vehicle aerodynamics and keep tires properly inflated. But there is another, less obvious and often overlooked way to gain a few extra percentage points in fuel efficiency: your choice of an engine oil.

Let’s start with the weight or viscosity of the oil. To reduce fuel consumption, you need to reduce friction in all its forms throughout the vehicle. And one source of friction is the thickness of the oil. A 40-weight oil is going to put up more resistance within the engine than a 30-weight. So just by moving from a 15W-40 to a 10W-30 viscosity oil, you are going to reduce the resistance, or friction, caused by the oil. In doing so, you will have more horsepower available, which means you don’t have to force as much fuel into the engine to maintain your desired speed. This simple change in viscosity can translate to as much as a 1% improvement in fuel economy – which may sound small, but at today’s prices, it can add up to a substantial savings per truck per year across an entire fleet.

Many truckers tend to have more confidence in thicker oils because that is what they are used to. However, if a truck is no more than 10 to 15 years old, you can safely move to a lower weight oil without compromising on engine protection and performance. In fact, the major truck OEMs have been using 10W-30 oils as their factory fill since 2013, and most agree that today’s 10W-30 oils could be backwards compatible as far as the 2007 model year. With the potential fuel savings, switching to a lower viscosity oil definitely warrants consideration.

What about synthetics? You may see a small fuel economy gain by moving from a conventional oil or semi-synthetic “synblend” to a full synthetic oil. It won’t be as significant a gain as the change from a 40 to a 30-weight viscosity, but again, every increment counts in today’s economy.

Another potential source of fuel savings is improving the performance of the exhaust aftertreatment system, specifically the diesel particulate filter, or DPF. Many operators may not realize that the engine oil plays a critical role in the health of the DPF. Non-combustible metallic additives in the oil are the chief cause of unburned ash accumulation in the DPF, which impedes fuel economy in a couple of ways. As ash builds up and starts clogging the filter, it restricts the flow of exhaust. The resulting buildup of exhaust gases in the system causes backpressure, forcing the engine to work harder to push exhaust out, meaning the engine is going to burn more fuel just to operate normally. The engine loses horsepower in the process, and the driver’s natural impulse is to press harder on the gas pedal to compensate, causing fuel to burn even faster.

DPF clogging also leads to an increase in the number of forced regenerations required to burn out the soot that builds up along with the ash. If we estimate that every regen burns about one gallon of fuel with the truck in a stationary position, then more frequent regens are going to reduce fuel economy dramatically. Chevron research has found that the combination of backpressure and more frequent regens exacts a fuel economy “penalty,” or loss of 3% to 6% over the DPF service lifecycle.

The easiest solution to excessive ash accumulation in the DPF is an ultra-low ash oil. Chevron introduced the first such oil for heavy duty diesel engines, Delo® 600 ADF, which has been shown to reduce ash accumulation in the DPF by 60% and improve fuel economy retention by as much as 3%. Along with the potential fuel savings, using an ultra-low ash oil reduces DPF maintenance costs and regeneration downtime.

Let’s hope $5.00-plus diesel fuel is a temporary situation. But if and when inflation cools down, economists predict that prices are likely to remain higher than we were previously accustomed to for the long haul. Now is the time to take advantage of the latest lubrication technology to help offset the impact of rising fuel prices.

Contact your Shrader Tire and Oil representative today to ask how we can help your fleet with oil and maintenance to help you save at the pump!
Is Your Fleet Ready for International Roadcheck Blitz?

Is Your Fleet Ready for International Roadcheck Blitz?

The Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) has announced this year’s International Roadcheck dates as May 17-19 with a focus on wheel ends.

International Roadcheck is a 72-hour high-visibility, high-volume commercial motor vehicle inspection and enforcement initiative. Commercial motor vehicle inspectors in Canada, Mexico and the U.S. will conduct North American Standard Inspections of commercial motor vehicles and drivers at weigh and inspection stations, on roving patrols, and at temporary inspection sites.

Shrader Tire and Oil can perform those important checks prior to International Roadcheck at any of its 16 fleet store locations in Michigan, Ohio and Indiana. Checking things like brakes, lights and tires is a standard part of what is called a DOT Check that STO performs.

Each year, CVSA focuses on a specific aspect of a roadside inspection. This year, the focus will be on wheel ends. Wheel end components support the heavy loads carried by commercial motor vehicles, maintain stability and control, and are critical for braking. Violations involving wheel end components historically account for about one quarter of the vehicle out-of-service violations discovered during International Roadcheck, and past International Roadcheck data routinely identified wheel end components as a top 10 vehicle violation.

During International Roadcheck, commercial motor vehicle inspectors examine large trucks and motorcoaches and the driver’s documentation and credentials using CVSA’s North American Standard Inspection Program procedures which are the uniform inspection steps, processes and standards established to ensure consistency in compliance, inspections and enforcement. Using the North American Standard Out-of-Service Criteria, also established by CVSA, inspectors identify critical out-of-service violations that if found, require the inspector to restrict the driver or vehicle from travel until those violations or conditions are addressed.

A quick stop at Shrader Tire and Oil this week could get you and your fleet ready for the Roadcheck blitz.

Vehicles that successfully pass a North American Standard Level I or Level V Inspection without any critical vehicle inspection item violations may receive a CVSA decal. In general, a vehicle with a valid CVSA decal will not be re-inspected during the three months while the decal is valid. Instead, inspectors will focus their efforts on vehicles without a valid CVSA decal.

“We want every vehicle on our roadways to be in proper working order for the safety of the driver operating that vehicle and everyone traveling on our roadways,” said CVSA President Capt. John Broers with the South Dakota Highway Patrol.

International Roadcheck is a CVSA program with participation by the U.S. Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, the Canadian Council of Motor Transport Administrators, Transport Canada, and Mexico’s Ministry of Infrastructure, Communications and Transportation.

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