Readying CJ-4 for rollout

March 28, 2006
Lubricant makers are putting the finishing touches on their new engine oil formulations for EPA ’07-compliant diesel engines

Lubricant makers are putting the finishing touches on their new engine oil formulations for EPA ’07-compliant diesel engines. CJ-4 will soon be the official American Petroleum Institute (API) category for these motor oils.

At the recent Mid-America Trucking Show, lubricant makers detailed how much research and testing has gone into developing CJ-4 oils and how they plan to market these oils to fleets in 2007.

“My suggestion is that fleets should just go with CJ-4 oil for all of their units once they start buying ’07 model trucks,” Dan Arcy, technical expert for Houston, TX-based Shell, told FleetOwner. “First of all, we think CJ-4 is a better product than [currently used] CI-4 and CI-4 Plus. CJ-4 is designed with better wear protection, higher oxidation protection, and better soot handling characteristics. CJ-4 will cost more, yes, but not enough more to warrant the expense of stocking two grades of engine oil.”

Though Shell plans to continue offering its CI-4 and CI-4 Plus along with CJ-4 engine oils next year, Arcy said the company hopes to encourage fleets to switch completely to CJ-4 in the near future. “In knowing how many SKUs [store keeping units] we’ll need to add to support two oils for a fleet in the field – the costs are just enormous,” he said. “On top of that, the risk of using an older oil in the ’07 engines could be severe.”

Chevron Products Co., said it’s planning to support two oils well into the future largely because market demand for CJ-4 remains uncertain.

“There is a lot of anxiety over new engines, fuels, exhaust treatments and lubricants,” said Nicole Fujishige, Chevron’s commercial marketing manager for North America.

“Historically, Chevron has fully embraced each new heavy-duty engine oil specification,” she said. “In this situation, there is clearly a need to retain the CI-4 Plus oil, while introducing the CJ-4 product. Although backwards-compatible, CJ-4 will likely be more expensive than CI-4 Plus and is not required for the off-road market or pre-2007 engines. Based on fleet composition, the majority of Chevron’s customers will have a greater need for CI-4 Plus, so we’ll keep that product on the market until conditions change.”

The new names for Chevron’s CJ-4 products are: Delo 400 LE (Low Emissions) Multigrade SAE 15W-40 and Texaco Ursa LA (Low Ash) SAE 15W-40. Fujishige said Chevron expects to have both CJ-4 products available on October 26, 2006, the API’s intended first license date for the new engine oil specification.

Fujishige added that concerns over how far drain intervals can be extended with CJ-4 seem to be a major hurdle for fleets as they approach 2007.

“We’ve done about 3.5 million miles worth of testing so far across all brands of OEM engines – Volvo, Caterpillar, Detroit Diesel, etc. – and the one thing we’ve consistently seen is that all the engines run much hotter,” she said. “Right now with CJ-4, oil drains are expected to be set at 25,000 miles by truck OEMs, but OEMs have not yet published official drain recommendations. There’s a possibility they could be extended past that but we’re not expecting it at this point.”

Though CJ-4 is performing well across all engine types, the type of trucking application involved – regional versus long haul, idle time, etc. – makes an even bigger difference in whether oil drains can be extended or not, she said.

“Going forward, oil sampling and analysis programs are going to be even more critical to fleets trying to gauge oil drain intervals,” Fujishige said.

About the Author

Sean Kilcarr | Editor in Chief

Sean previously reported and commented on trends affecting the many different strata of the trucking industry. Also be sure to visit Sean's blog Trucks at Work where he offers analysis on a variety of different topics inside the trucking industry.

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