Since the second truck hauled its first load for an organization way back in the last century, fleet managers have been trying to keep up with changes in technology. Keeping the trucks running is the only way to keep them profitable, but today’s fleet operations understand the fine line between keeping them running and keeping them running smoothly and efficiently.
Much of this efficiency can be traced to proper lubrication. If we go back 80 years or so, a lot has certainly changed in trucking technology,” says Yeong Kwon, CVL product offer advisor for ExxonMobil Lubricants and Specialties. “From 2-stroke to 4-stroke engine technologies, there have been certain changes made to lubricant qualities. From the mid-1990s, however, these changes have been primarily emissions-related, which have been the key drivers to changes in oil classifications. In that arena, I would say we are going through an unprecedented time where specifications are changing to keep pace with various regulations.”
Though ExxonMobil’s Mobil Delvac brand of heavy-duty motor oil officially came to market in 1925, the company says it was researching and developing lubricant technology long before that. “As early as 1913, we were already holding equipment builder meetings and forming the alliances that are so important in the creation and ongoing refinement of technology.” These refinements, says Kwon, are continuing today at an even more accelerated pace.
“Between 1994 and 2010, we’ve had at least five sets of emissions regulations in this country alone,” Kwon says. “It’s happening all over the globe as well. The changes pertaining to nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions and particulate matter (PM) emissions have had a greater impact on lubricant quality than in the 60 years prior to that.”
Now, as EPA-compliant 2010 heavy-duty engines move into fleet operations, fleet managers may be wearily wondering what new changes they’ll have to make to their maintenance cycles regarding lubrication. After all, weren’t the EPA’s 2007 emissions regulations supposed to solve the problem?
“Under the EPA’s 2007 exhaust emissions regulations, diesel engine builders implemented enhanced exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) to reduce NOx,” says Shawn Ewing, technical service coordinator, Conoco-Phillips Commercial Lubricants. With all of the benefits of EGR, however, there were tradeoffs. “In addition to increased soot production, EGR reduced power density, increased heat rejection to coolant and reduced fuel economy.”
The new regulations required the development of a new engine oil category: API CJ-4. “The key improvement that engine manufacturers asked for were in the areas of deposit control, oxidation control and compatibility with the aftertreatment systems, mainly diesel particulate filters,” says Dan Arc...