There’s a delicate balance to figuring out the correct drain interval for your trucks, or at least that’s what your fleet manager or mechanics might want you to think. For many mechanics and truck operators, the time between drain intervals is much shorter than what the manufacturer’s book says. Some operators are still stuck in the mentality of changing the oil every 25,000 miles as the gold standard. But that’s the old way of thinking.

The reality is that newer trucks are designed for much longer drain intervals. Many newer models have standard intervals between 60,000 to 75,000 miles or more. Some trucks can even handle extended drain intervals above the OEM’s recommendations without significant issues. For some mechanics or operators stuck in the mentality of ‘oil’s cheap, so just change it,’ it can be hard to fathom how drain intervals have changed so radically in the last few years. So, what has brought this change on? We have a few ideas.

  • Improved engine design: Truck engines have gotten faster, hotter, more compact, and more efficient. These changes make it easier for trucks to run longer between intervals than they used to. The new designs include better temperature controls and combustion management to deliver better truck mileage, reduce fuel consumption, and lead to fewer oil changes.
  • DPF filters are better than they used to be. DPF filters have come a long way since they first appeared on the scene. Now, they are bigger and more efficient and catch more ash than they used to. This improved efficiency reduces the amount of forced regens to burn off ash and means that less ash build-up is contained in the engine oil, so it lasts longer.
  • Ultra-low ash engine oils are here. The DPF filter collects the ash that burns off from engine oil additives. For example, 90% of the ash collected in the DPF filter comes from the lubricant additives. That’s why ultra-low ash lubricants have become so popular. They produce significantly less ash, reducing DPF filter clogging and allowing operators to extend drain intervals further than before.

What are the benefits of extending drain intervals?
There are a lot of benefits to extending drain intervals. The problem is that some operators and mechanics still think it’s better to be safe, so they stick with their previous drain interval schedule. However, many OEM manufacturers want to change that mentality. After all, they are purposefully designing these engines to go longer between drain intervals. So, what are the benefits of extended drain intervals?

  • They reduce equipment downtime and costs. While the engine oil you replace may be relatively inexpensive, taking a truck out of commission to make the switch can be very costly, especially if you have a fleet of trucks. Some fleets that do their in-house oil changes may only spend about $250/truck on supplies, but if you multiply that across all the trucks in your fleet and the number of times you change the oil each year, the costs start to add up. Plus, your business loses revenue because your trucks are out of commission for unnecessary maintenance, too!
  • Newer trucks are designed for longer drain intervals. OEM manufacturers want their trucks to be on the road. They are designing engines that can go longer between drain intervals. It’s in the owner’s manual for most new trucks, yet many operators ignore these new maintenance schedules. That’s a mistake. Every time you change the oil on a truck, engine damage or lubricant contamination is possible, even with the most skilled technician performing the work. OEMs know this, so they are designing their trucks to be as efficient as possible so owners can avoid costly maintenance and repairs.
  • Engine oils are more efficient. Engine lubricants are designed better than they used to be. It’s why we now have ultra-low ash oils that are incredibly efficient. These lubricants are designed with the user in mind and to keep trucks running optimally. Changing them out for an arbitrary drain interval schedule that doesn’t take into effect how they work in the engine is a waste of money and resources. When you use the right clean and efficient lubricants, you should be able to get the best value out of them for the entire drain cycle in a truck.

The times are changing for drain intervals. OEMs design trucks to go longer because users want the most out of their vehicles. Businesses can save money in supply costs and equipment downtime by reducing the number of drain intervals over the truck’s lifetime. That’s a win for business owners who have invested significant money into upgrading to newer trucking equipment.

We know that getting used to new changes like extended drain intervals can be a little unnerving, especially if your technician has found success by sticking to a shorter drain interval schedule. A longer drain interval may be the answer to reduce maintenance costs and keep your trucks on the road. Luckily, we have a tool to help your technicians have a little peace of mind with the new drain interval schedule — oil analysis.

Oil Analysis can help with extended drain intervals
An oil analysis program complements an extended drain interval program because it gives real-time data on whether your drain interval schedule works. Using samples from your trucks and analyzed by a lab, you’ll get insight into how efficient your trucks are, how well your lubricants are performing, and if contamination is happening. With this data, you can pinpoint maintenance needs, like drain intervals and more, to the exact needs of your equipment based on how it runs and how you use it. It’s personalized data you can’t get from an owner’s manual, and it can help you keep your equipment in tip-top shape, even with extended drain intervals.

So, if you’re interested in learning more about extending drain interval with your fleet, switching to premium lubricants like ultra-low ash oil, or instituting an oil analysis program for your fleet, let us help. We offer all these services and all the fuel and lubricant supplies you’ll need to keep your fleet running.