Low viscosity lubes - Just do it

Dec. 5, 2016
Real fuel economy gains possible with CK-4 and FA-4

On December 1, 2016, new diesel engine oils — API CK-4 and FA-4 — became available for purchase.

The new oils were developed in response to changes in engines necessitated by engine emissions regulations. Engine oils will play a role in meeting those emissions regulations because of their lower viscosity.

As a refresher, viscosity is the measure of a fluid’s internal resistance to flow. In a truck’s engine, mechanical losses from pumping and friction consume approximately 16% of the total energy input to a vehicle. Lower viscosity oils will reduce those engine mechanical losses, thereby reducing fuel use.

Our Confidence Report on Low Viscosity Lubes found that Class 8 over-the-road fleets can realistically expect fuel savings in the range of 0.5% to 1.5% switching from a 15W-40 engine oil to a 5W-30 or 10W-30 one. This is true whether you are using the now old CJ-4 oil or the new CK-4 oil.

Some people erroneously believe that heavier engine oils provide better engine protection and therefore increase engine durability. But remember before engine oil can be released into the market it must the durability requirements of every major OEM. All major North American engine OEMs have approved lower viscosity oils for over-the-road applications.

So what does that mean? Basically it means you should have no concern switching to a lower viscosity oil in over-the-road applications.

Because two new oil categories arose out of the PC-11 category there is some confusion about which oil fleets should use. The new CK-4 oils even in their low viscosity formulations can be used in place of CJ-4 oils. In fact they are approved for engines going back to model year 2010

The jury is still out on the backward compatibility of FA-4 oils, which we believe will offer an additional 0.4% to 0.7% fuel economy improvement when switching from CJ-4 or CK-4 5W-30 or 10W-30 oils. Each OEM is addressing this issue and will announce their recommendations.

Low viscosity lubes have been on the market for many years, the development and release of a new engine oils has just brought more attention to them. And from what we see switching to a low viscosity lube is a no brainer. So just do it.

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.

Sponsored Recommendations

Reducing CSA Violations & Increasing Safety With Advanced Trailer Telematics

Keep the roads safer with advanced trailer telematics. In this whitepaper, see how you can gain insights that lead to increased safety and reduced roadside incidents—keeping drivers...

80% Fewer Towable Accidents - 10 Key Strategies

After installing grille guards on all of their Class 8 trucks, a major Midwest fleet reported they had reduced their number of towable accidents by 80% post installation – including...

Proactive Fleet Safety: A Guide to Improved Efficiency and Profitability

Each year, carriers lose around 32.6 billion vehicle hours as a result of weather-related congestion. Discover how to shift from reactive to proactive, improve efficiency, and...

Tackling the Tech Shortage: Lessons in Recruiting Talent and Reducing Turnover

Discover innovative strategies for recruiting and retaining tech talent in the trucking industry at our April 16th webinar, where experts will share insights on competitive pay...

Voice your opinion!

To join the conversation, and become an exclusive member of FleetOwner, create an account today!