Low-grade engine oils limit service intervals in the GCC

Low-grade engine oils limit service intervals in the GCC
Adriaan de Kok, business manager for the Middle East at Chevron Al Khalij, the parent company for the Caltex brand.
Published: 11 May 2017 - 9:04 a.m.
By: John Bambridge

In the context of Caltex’s retiring of its CF diesel engine oils in the region March 2017 in line with the regulatory requirements in the Gulf, PMV Middle East sat down with Adriaan de Kok, business manager for the Middle East at Chevron Al Khalij, to discuss the wider issues in the industry.

One significant point that emerged was the fact that medium-duty fleet operators in the region are reluctant to increase the length of their service intervals beyond 5,000km, as a result of the historic use of low-grade engine oils that offered little to no corrosion or dust protection.

In contrast, fleets that use Caltex’s latest CH-4 Delo FleetPro product can theoretically increase the oil drain intervals of their vehicles from 5,000km to 10,000km — a shift that delivers a significant decrease in the oil’s total cost of ownership.

De Kok notes: “Our biggest challenge is to educate consumers to feel safe with pushing it to 10,000km or more, because the oil can do it; the only thing that prevents them from doing it is their own habit and perception.

 

This extension of service intervals is a trend that has already been accommodated by the truck manufacturers, and fall well within the recommended limits of the physical technology.

De Kok explains: “Traditionally you would have had a lot of the OEMs say every 5,000km, but now, many of them have gone to 10,000km or 15,000km – so that’s just a continuation of the pushing the oils a bit further.”

Another trend that drives short service intervals is the uncertainty that comes with older medium-duty vehicles that have passed the period where they are covered by the manufacturer’s warranty.

De Kok continued: “There’s a lot of trucks that might not be warranted beyond two to three years – and then many operators fall back into their traditional ways of going back to the older CF-4 type specification and changing every 5,000km.

“But the reality is that OEMs today require 10,000km, 15,000km and 20,000km drain intervals, so they’ve advanced.”

In the heavy-duty segment, the industry has long since moved even further ahead, and with Caltex’s CI-4 product, the engine oil producer confidently recommend up to 20,000km.

De Kok highlights: “We run in-service oil analysis with our customers – so companies like DP World or Al Shirawi Transport, and we actually do oil testing on their engines at 10,000km, 20,000km, etc., and so we’ve actually monitored it.”

“With Delo Gold Ultra, the bigger brother of FleetPro, the limit is 35,000km. Most customers don’t use it up to that level, but those that do save a heck of a lot of money.”

The limits of an engine oil are determined by the number of additives its comes with for tackling general corrosion and sulphur content and safely suspending presence soot and dust in the mixture without allowing it to effect the viscosity or performance of the lubricant.

So, even 35,000km that is not the limit, with Chevron’s most advanced CJ-4 product theoretically accommodating service intervals of up to 100,000km, “because it’s so dosed”, adds De Kok.

To read more on the significant improvements that have accompanied recent developments in engine oils, see: Oiling up: Caltex on the region's lubricant upgrade

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