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How to optimise oil change intervals in trucks

Six decades ago a truck engine oil change would have been performed as frequently as every 800 – 1000 km. Because of higher quality lubricants, cleaner fuels, improved filter technology and more advanced engines, today it is possible to have an oil drain interval as high as 100,000 km.

This said, a typical oil drain interval remains around 35,000 km and little attention is paid to adjusting this standard due to the various environments and other factors these vehicles face. For example, two identically produced vehicles may experience a very different oil life; one may reach close to 80,000 km, while the other might be starving for fresh oil by 25,000 km. This difference in engine oil life is the outcome of different aspects from three important points:

  1. How the engine is designed, its age and the conditions where it operates. Engine design characteristics and several running conditions, exposure to contaminants and other circumstances can affect oil life.
  2. Driving patterns and conditions – where and how the truck is driven. 41% of lubrication professionals consider where and how a vehicle is driven as the most influential factor on the life of the engine oil.
  3. Oil characteristics, quality and formulation performance of the engine oil.

The optimal time to change the engine oil is the moment when the damaging effects of the declining oil conditions are more significant than the costs and time saved by extending the interval any further. These damaging consequences could be either short or long term. Short-term effects for example is the loss in fuel efficiency from the declined condition of the engine oil until the next oil drain. Long-term effects are including a permanent damage of internal engine components, which will cause extra costs related to repairs, rebuilds and downtime.

It is difficult to say exactly when the right moment is to change the engine oil should take place. However, since these conditions are not always known through normal truck operation, the best answer will be the drivers ability to control the quality of the oil at any given moment either in real time (on-line sensors), oil analysis or during the periodical maintenance inspection . 

The life of the engine oil is critical to the health of the engine and the vehicle as a whole. For instance, engine oil is circulated throughout various engine components to provide protection against wear, which keeps the engine functioning properly, help to maintain an ideal engine temperature, cleans out contamination, and consists the feature of inhibiting corrosion and improve sealing. Therefore it is important to choose a high-quality engine oil, so your equipement is better protected and your maintenance costs are lowered.