Thinking about extending maintenance intervals? Here are some things to consider.

For many fleets, extending maintenance intervals is a sure way to lower expenses and improve shop productivity. However, while this practice promises financial and other benefits, if it is not approached carefully and effectively it can also be full of pitfalls.

Most often, the subject of extended maintenance intervals centers on longer oil drains but there are other items to consider, such as intervals for greases, coolants and filters, plus inspections for brakes, tires, 5th wheels and lighting systems.

“Finding a way to synchronize these intervals can reduce the time a truck is off the road,” wrote Leonard J. Badal, Jr., commercial sector manager, Chevron Lubricants, on the company’s Chevron Lube Matters blog. “The less time you spend off the road, the more freight you are moving.”

Badal went on to note that understanding OEM recommended oil drain intervals by engine type and model year can be a complex process, and that extending service intervals “does not have to mean going beyond OEM recommended drain intervals.

“Extending drain intervals,” Badal said, “can simply mean going beyond your current service interval. It’s really about looking at where you are today, where you want to be tomorrow and plotting a safe course to get there. The most important thing to do is work closely with your OEM when setting up an extended drain program.”

Another important decision, according to Badal, is to choose the right extended service engine oil filter. Chevron supports the use of OEM or reputable aftermarket oil filters when looking to implement an extended oil drain interval program. These filters are designed to withstand the rigors of extended oil drain conditions without failing prematurely because they offer larger sizing and more robust media.

For example, the WIX XD (extended drain) oil filter, according to the manufacturer, features the company’s “Spin Flow Technology” in which angled fins are placed where the oil enters the filter to start the process of directing heavy particles to a coarse filtration element and allow a fine filtration element to trap smaller particles. The filter is engineered to allow fleets to extend oil change intervals by up to 50 percent when combined with proper oil analysis.

Other filters available for extended drains include centrifuge or bypass filters, designed to remove soot by spinning a bypassed stream of oil, and extended drain filters with additives. According to Chevron Lubricants, in one evaluation with a large national refuse hauling company, the addition of a bypass filter did not result in any difference in performance compared to identical units without the centrifuge filter assembly. Additionally, Chevron cautions, oil analysis has shown that additive filters may not be compatible with the formulation of the heavy-duty engine oil, and can potentially void the engine warranty.

“The benefits of extending oil drain intervals correctly can be significant,” Badal concluded. “By implementing an extended drain program in conjunction with OEMs and lubricant suppliers, fleets can realize a measurable payback in reduced maintenance, lubricant and waste oil disposal costs.”

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