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Engine Oil Sample Lab

Five questions to ask your lubricant technical expert

April 27, 2023
Optimizing oil drain intervals and reducing risk start with asking lubrication experts the right questions.

Industry-leading technical support can provide significant benefits for any fleet regardless of whether they are a long-haul heavy-duty truck or delivery van making multiple stops around a city. Lubricant experts can help you make decisions on your engine oil outside of the initial lubricant selection to identify efficiencies and contribute to a reduced total cost of ownership.

And to make that process more efficient and smooth, here are five questions to consider asking your lubricant technical expert to help optimize the assets in your fleet.

1. Should I consolidate my lubricants?

If you’re operating a large mixed fleet, it’s likely that you have a variety of lubricants in your workshop. This means your oil storage area will take up more space, but it also increases the potential for human error in selecting the right lubricant for an application. If the wrong lubricant is used for the wrong application, the impact can be significant and result in improper lubrication, increased wear, and in extreme cases, engine failure.

By seeking the advice of a technical expert, you may be able to safely consolidate your lubricants while maintaining proper lubrication of vital components.

Getting help is crucial, as consolidation can be an extremely complex process where each OEM recommendation needs to be taken into consideration. This is particularly true for mixed fleets where there are multiple OEM manuals that need to be reviewed and analyzed alongside each other to produce a lubricant recommendation to meet all requirements.

This process can be very beneficial, too, by simplifying your processes and, in some cases, reducing costs. Collaborating with a lubricant expert will make sure that any decisions you make do not compromise the protection of your engine hardware.

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2. How can I optimize oil drain intervals?

By optimizing oil drain intervals fleets can reap a range of benefits including longer time on the road between scheduled maintenance and directly reduced maintenance costs. Added to these clear maintenance benefits, extending ODIs can also help reduce the volume of lubricant used and waste product produced to support your fleet’s sustainability efforts.

To extend these intervals without negatively impacting the condition and efficiency of your vehicles’ engines, it is important to have a regular oil analysis schedule and work alongside a lubricant expert who can first monitor and interpret your used oil data analysis. Once this key stage is complete, your expert will be able to work with you to extend out your drain intervals while closely monitoring for early signs that lubrication is maintained and not compromised.

Only by performing used oil analysis checks and working together with a technical service advisor can oil drain intervals be safely optimized and time in the shop—and off the road—be minimized.

3. How can I get the most out of my used oil analysis data?

Reading used oil analysis reports can be difficult, as various data points and influencing factors need to be considered holistically to provide meaningful insight into a vehicle’s condition. Lubricant experts and technical service advisors can offer their detailed knowledge and experience to help turn laboratory data into actionable insight.

The first factor to consider is that not all OEM thresholds are the same for specific properties, so while one level could be deemed acceptable, the same level in a different vehicle could be a cause for concern.

Furthermore, technical experts can quickly identify where immediate maintenance might be required. For example, the presence of coolant or glycol could suggest a failing EGR cooler seal, while an increase in iron and aluminium can indicate a failing camshaft, coolant attacking the liners, or the engine requiring mechanical adjustment.

Working with a lubricant expert allows these issues to be identified quickly and efficiently, allowing for maintenance schedules to be adjusted accordingly before an issue becomes too expensive or serious to resolve.

Additionally, technical experts can provide insight and training sessions for you and your technicians on how to spot warning signs and potential anomalies in your used oil analysis data. This will both increase your confidence in interpreting the data in the future and allow you to independently make informed maintenance adjustments.

4. What should I do if I have a problem on site?

Lubricant experts can provide in-the-moment advice to help problem solve. For example, Petro-Canada Lubricants technical service advisors often provide guidance on how to take a good-quality oil sample as well as offer insight into evolving specifications such as the change from the Eaton PS-164 to the current PS-386.

Other commonly asked questions focus on drain intervals and what the OEM recommended interval is. This is key for maintaining warranties and should be an important consideration for all fleets—and how customers can reduce cleaning of their diesel particulate filters (DPFs). With a wealth of knowledge, insight, and experience just a call away, technical service advisors can give in-the-moment advice and help you overcome any lubricant queries.

5. How can I reduce risk of error in my workshop?

Organization and storage of lubricants can have a significant impact on a workshop, with the ability to reduce the risk of using the wrong engine oil and maximizing space.

Through visiting your site and facilities, a lubricant technical advisor will be able to provide guidance on the practicalities of workshop organization, optimizing your lubricant storage, decanting lubricants, and correct labeling. This will allow you to continue to evolve and increase the efficiency of your engine oil practices as well as discuss key questions and acquire valuable insight for you and your team. Lubricant experts can play a key role in optimizing numerous areas of your fleet’s maintenance and performance. Whether in person, or over the phone, collaboration with a technical service advisor can provide practical guidance and advice to maximize performance while reducing costs and downtime, helping your business to be more sustainable and reducing your fleet’s total cost of ownership.