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Fluid Analysis – an Investment that Pays Off

Fluid Analysis – an Investment that Pays Off

TOLEDO, Ohio (Aug. 12, 2022) — Interested in reducing downtime, lowering maintenance costs and extending your equipment life? Of course you are!

Healthy fluids are critical to the performance of a heavy-duty vehicle, whether it’s a long-haul truck or an excavator on a construction site. From the engine oil to the coolant to the transmission, gear and axle fluids, contaminants can interfere with a vehicle’s smooth and productive operation. In fact, fluid contamination is a leading cause of downtime and higher maintenance costs.

There’s a common misconception that, simply by changing out the fluids at the OEM’s recommended intervals, you are doing enough to ensure your fluids are clean. There are two issues with that. First, you are missing the opportunity to extend drains well beyond the manufacturer’s recommendation, which is increasingly possible with today’s diesel engine oils. Longer drain intervals are a key strategy in reducing maintenance costs. Secondly, contaminants in the oil can be indicators of problems elsewhere in the vehicle. For example, traces of metal such as copper or aluminum in the oil is a sign that some metal parts, bearings or components are experiencing wear and need to be inspected.

Those are among the reasons that Chevron and other lubricant suppliers wholeheartedly recommend a systematic, in-service fluid analysis program for fleets of all sizes, even small owner/operators, and across both on- and off-highway segments. A fluid analysis program is far easier to implement than you might think. And far from being an added expense, it is an investment that will likely pay you back in the form of reduced downtime, lower maintenance costs, and extended equipment life.

A fluid analysis program typically involves three parties: the fleet maintenance manager, a laboratory that actually performs the analysis, and a partner who can help you analyze the lab’s findings and determine the appropriate action – most likely your lubricant supplier. (Chevron provides this service to our customers free of charge.)

The fleet manager’s job is to take oil samples on a regular schedule and send them to the lab. To ensure you get reliable results, it’s important to follow proper sampling procedures and use the right equipment. Simply opening the drain plug and capturing whatever flows out is not going to give you satisfactory results. The oil may get contaminated from dirt in the environment or even lint from the rag used to open the plug (something we commonly see). The proper bottle, tubing and vacuum pump for obtaining samples are inexpensive and readily available from a variety of sources. For the best representation of the condition of the fluid, take samples from as close to the middle of the fluid reservoir as possible, rather than the top or the bottom. Newer vehicles have been designed to accommodate this.

Just as important as the quality of the sample is the data you provide with it. Make sure you have the accurate unit number and the name of the specific product being used, which the lab will match against its own sample.

Labs can turn the analysis around in as little as 24 hours if needed. You will receive a report that is color coded – red, yellow or green – depending on the severity of the findings. Green means you can continue to operate and monitor the equipment as usual. Yellow indicates some cautionary notes you should be aware of, and red means you have a problem that needs attention. One of the benefits of doing sampling on a regular schedule is that you can see trending over time and whether a problem is getting worse, making it easier to pinpoint the source. As noted earlier, you can share the findings with your lubricant provider, who can help you understand the report and should be able to help you determine what to do if the fluid or additives are showing signs of contamination, metal wear, or degradation.

While this type of program pertains primarily to engine oil, it’s worth quickly noting the importance of coolant analysis as well. Fortunately, it entails far fewer steps and can usually be done in-house. You can use test strips that match the specific coolant technology you are using to check the additive and Ph levels. You can use a refractometer to test the freeze point. The simple tests, however, are the “visual and smell” tests – if the color is close to the original when the fluid was installed, and the odor is not unusual, your coolant is probably in good shape.

Given the relatively low cost and the potentially high payback, it makes sense to invest in a fluid analysis program – a proven and effective way to make sure your equipment is in top operating condition and can perform beyond its life expectancy.

  • By Shawn Whitacre, Chevron Lubricants
Shrader Welcomes Operation Safe Driver Week

Shrader Welcomes Operation Safe Driver Week

This year’s focus for Operation Safe Driver Week is speeding.

Safe Driver Week began Sunday, July 10, across the United States, Canada, and Mexico. Law enforcement will be on roadways throughout this week watching for commercial motor vehicle and passenger vehicle drivers engaging in unsafe driving behaviors, such as speeding, distracted driving, following too closely, improper lane change, drunk or drugged driving, etc.

At Shrader Tire and Oil, safety is always our No. 1 priority, whether its delivering products to one of our 14 fleet stores to getting your fleet back in service.

The Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance’s (CVSA) Operation Safe Driver Program was created to improve the driving behaviors of all drivers and reduce the number of crashes involving commercial motor vehicles on our roadways through educational and traffic enforcement strategies. Operation Safe Driver Week was created by CVSA with support from federal agencies in Canada, Mexico and the U.S., the motor carrier industry, and transportation safety organizations.

This year’s campaign encourages everyone to slow down and travel at a safe speed.

“This safe driving initiative and campaign focuses specifically on drivers’ actions – whether it’s something a driver did, like speeding, or something they didn’t do, such as not paying attention to the driving task,” said CVSA President Capt. John Broers with the South Dakota Highway Patrol. “This focus on drivers’ behaviors is our effort to identify and educate drivers who are operating dangerously on our roadways, with the goal of preventing crashes from occurring.”

Earlier this year, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHSTA) released its latest annual traffic crash report, showing that 38,824 lives were lost in traffic crashes nationwide in 2020 – the highest number of fatalities since 2007. And while the number of crashes and traffic injuries declined overall, fatal crashes increased by 6.8%.

Among the alarming statistics in NHTSA’s report was the key finding that speed-related fatalities increased by 17%. Consequently, speeding, in particular, will be a dangerous driving behavior that officers will identify and target during Operation Safe Driver Week.

“The rising fatalities on our roadways are a national crisis; we cannot and must not accept these deaths as inevitable,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg.

Shrader Tire & Oil is committed to safety and welcomes the special focus this year on Safe Driver Week.

Retreads Reimagined: 7 Retread Myths in the Trucking Industry

Retreads Reimagined: 7 Retread Myths in the Trucking Industry

If you’re in the trucking industry, you’ve heard many myths about retreads. For example, you may think you will save more money by buying and discarding lower priced imports than by retreading quality casings. Or you may believe all the “gators” you see on the road are retreads.

In the Retreads Reimagined video series featured here, we tackle the top 7 myths in the industry and show you how retreads could be a very smart decision for your business.

MORE ABOUT SHRADER TIRE & OIL’S RETREAD FACILITIES

The overall quality of retreaded truck tires has increased dramatically in recent years with the introduction of advanced technology, including the use of computers in manufacturing and nondestructive tire testing. Retreaded tires have historically made up about 50% of the replacement commercial tire market in the U.S. Fleets know they can rely on retreaded tires to deliver safety, reliability and performance while significantly driving down costs.

When choosing to retread a premium tire using the process of a major manufacturer, you can count on a retreaded tire that will outperform a lesser-brand new tire, and will even deliver mileage that’s on par or better than a new, lesser-brand, cheap import.

Don’t let the old myths keep you from choosing retreaded tires as a safe, effective, environment friendly, cost-effective addition to your fleet’s tire management program. Share these myths and truths with your drivers to assure them of the safety and performance of retreads.

Safety First! Seat Belt Enforcement Blitz Begins

Safety First! Seat Belt Enforcement Blitz Begins

TOLEDO (May 24) — Highway patrols in Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky, Pennsylvania and West Virginia are joining forces this week on a safety belt enforcement blitz. The special enforcement will continue through Memorial Day.

The high-visibility enforcement will include the Indiana State Police, Kentucky State Police, Michigan State Police, Pennsylvania State Police and the West Virginia State Police, as well as Ohio State Highway Patrol.

The initiative began at 12:01 am. Monday (May 23) and ends at 11:59 p.m. May 30. It coincides with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s “Click It or Ticket” campaign as well as the Highway Patrol’s Operation CARE All-American Buckle Up Mobilization.

“Properly using a safety belt is a simple step that has proven to save lives,” said Col. Richard Fambro, patrol superintendent for the Ohio State Highway Patrol. “Motorists must commit to buckling up every trip, every time, so they are protected if they are involved in a crash.”

The project is a multistate law enforcement partnership aimed at providing combined and coordinated law enforcement and security services in the areas of highway safety, criminal patrol and intelligence sharing.

Nine people died on Ohio’s roads over Memorial Day weekend 2021. Twenty died in traffic crashes over Memorial Day weekend 2020, according to Highway Patrol statistics.

 

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