Why wouldn’t you?

July 11, 2016
Low-viscosity lubricants serve to reduce engine mechanical losses; that’s how they save fuel.

It can be difficult for fleets to measure fuel economy gains in the 0.5% to 1.5% range. And that is the range they can expect to see if they switch from 15W-40 engine lubricant to low-viscosity 5W/10W-30 lubricants.

This was one of the findings of the Confidence Report on Low-Viscosity Engine Lubricants that we recently released. Low-viscosity lubricants serve to reduce engine mechanical losses; that’s how they save fuel.

Lubricant is something you need in your trucks so choosing one with a lower viscosity that improves fuel economy makes a lot of sense to us if the ROI works for your fleet. We’ve included a payback calculator in our report and on our website to help you figure that out using your own numbers

Another benefit of the low viscosity lubes is that it may allow for extended drain intervals which can help offset the increased price of moving to a synthetic or synthetic blend — those are the base stock most low viscosity lubes use.

Another key finding of our report was that CK-4 lubes, which will be available at the end of the year, have been approved for use in engines going back to at least the 2010 model year. For many of you, this means you will only need to carry one type of lubricant and there is no need to change operational or maintenance practices.

FA-4, which will offer the greatest fuel efficiency gains, is still being evaluated to see how it performs in older engines. Stay tuned and we will keep you posted on that.

The need for these oils was driven by mandated fuel efficiency improvements for heavy-duty, over-the-road diesel engines.  In this case, a move to these oils will improve the efficiency of your entire fleet, as you implement them on all trucks you’re running, not just buying a technology only available on new ones.

While the fuel-economy savings from switching to low-viscosity lubricants for your entire fleet may seem small, lube is one of those must have items so why wouldn’t you switch to get even a little bit more out of a gallon of fuel?

About the Author

Michael Roeth | Executive Director

Michael Roeth has worked in the commercial vehicle industry for nearly 30 years, most recently as executive director of the North American Council for Freight Efficiency (NACFE). He serves on the second National Academy of Sciences Committee on Technologies and Approaches for Reducing the Fuel Consumption of Medium and Heavy-Duty Vehicles and has held various positions in engineering, quality, sales, and plant management with Navistar and Behr/Cummins.

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