It’s not easy to be a fleet manager these days. The ups and downs of record-high fuel prices are an ongoing rollercoaster that is undoubtedly making some fleet managers sick. Now, as the end of the year starts to wrap up and your budget is the tightest, diesel prices are soaring right when gasoline finally begins to drop. Earlier this month, the national average gas price dropped to $3.86/gallon, which felt like a relief until you remember that price is still 20.6 cents/gallon higher than a month ago, and 56.6 cents/gallon a year ago. But, the relief was only short-lived because while gasoline prices may have dropped, diesel rose fast, up to 18.7 cents in a week to an average of $5.26 gallon.

For a fleet manager with several heavy-duty diesel engine trucks, the rising cost of diesel is a hard pill to swallow. Diesel prices have been higher this year, and analysts predict they will stay high this winter because of overall low inventory. So what can managers do to help bring down their fuel costs, especially for heavy-duty diesel engines? Here’s one suggestion you might try, switching to lower-viscosity grade engine oils.

What is the benefit of lower-viscosity engine oil?
Any fleet manager can tell you that oil viscosity is a big deal in keeping an engine running. This is because the viscosity of an engine’s oil determines how effectively the machinery moves inside the engine. Thicker viscosity oils help to prevent engine wear, piston damage, and overall wear and tear, but the drawback is that the thicker your oil is, the slower it tends to move, which hurts your overall engine efficiency.

Lower-viscosity engine oils help reduce energy loss and drag and increase fuel efficiency. Lower viscosity oils flow through the engine faster than higher viscosity grades which help to reduce friction, minimize metal-to-metal contact, and prolong the life of your engine. For this reason, lower-viscosity engine oils are becoming increasingly popular as manufacturers and businesses strive to meet emissions targets and increase fuel efficiency.

What is the drawback of lower viscosity grade oils?
The main issue that many mechanics, fleet managers, and drivers have with lower-viscosity engine oils is that they are more likely to be sensitive to temperature changes. In high temperatures, lower-viscosity oils are more likely to thin, and at lower temperatures, they are more likely to gum up and become thicker. This effect can reduce the oil’s effectiveness as engine lubrication and increase the surface to surface friction which may lead to engine damage. Many manufacturers are adding additives to lower viscosity grade engine oils that reduce friction to combat this issue.

Let’s talk about the Volvo VDS-5 Oil Specification
In the push for better fuel performance and emissions control, Volvo introduced new oil performance specifications for its heavy-duty diesel engines in 2021. The Volvo VDS- 5 oil specification is designed to help heavy-duty diesel trucks get better fuel efficiency and extend drain intervals. This means that 2012 GHG or newer fuel-efficient Mack MP 8 or Volvo D13 engines should now use oils that meet the VDS-5 spec or the comparable EOS-5 spec.

So what does this mean for managers with these trucks in their fleet? Firstly, you need to understand that the VDS-5 spec is a lower viscosity recommendation, so it’s not backward compatible with older engines because it causes lower oil pressure which may trigger dashboard warnings. That means this change only affects your new trucks and engines, so you don’t have to switch everything all at once.

But for the vehicles in your fleet that will be affected, the good news is that Volvo is not mandating the use of VD-S 5 oils in your trucks yet. So you can continue to use the supplies you have on hand, like VDS- 4.5 oils or comparable products. But what will you be missing out on? Better fuel economy is the most significant benefit, and it’s why it’s recommended that you slowly phase in VDS-5 products over time to increase your fuel savings.

Does Chevron have a VDS-5 standard oil?
The good news is the team at Chevron has a great product to help you transition to the VDS-5 standard. The Delo® 400 XSP -FA 5W-30 meets the VDS-5 and EOS -5 standards. Here are a few of the benefits you can expect when you make the switch to this product.

  • Improved fuel economy by up to 1.3%
  • Increased oxidation resistance, improved thermal stability for enhanced piston deposit and turbocharger protection
  • Wear control protection for cylinders, pistons, rings, and valves against deposits, soot and corrosion
  • Low-temperature flow and pumpability properties to improve cold weather start-ups
  • Improved emissions control system service life by reducing cleaning and maintenance costs.

Some of the other benefits of this product are:

  • It’s formulated for engines with Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR), Diesel Particulate Filters (DPF), and Exhaust Gas Recirculation (EGR) systems to help reduce overall fuel emissions and improve efficiency
  • It’s been tested and meets the requirements for Mack, Renault, and Volvo trucks and is approved against the oil specifications for Mack EOS-5, Renault RLD-5, and Volvo VDS-5.

We’re here to help you transition to new lubricants
We know that transitioning to meet a new oil specification standard like the VDS-5 or switching to lower-viscosity engine oils is no easy task for fleet managers. It is time-consuming to figure out which oils are compatible with your engines, and it is expensive to make the switch initially, especially while figuring out how the new oils will affect your trucks. That’s why our team is here to help. With our expertise and service, we can help make the transition process a little easier so you can start to see the fuel savings with our fleet fueling program as well as improved efficiency that these products can deliver for your fleet. As a Chevron Lubricants Supplier, we’re here to help if you have questions about your fleet or making changes to your lubricant regimes, please call your Greg’s Petroleum Supply representative.