‘Owner’s Manual’: Why OEM cleanliness standards matter

What if we told you that regular oil changes may fail to prevent damage and equipment failure? It’s true. It makes little difference how often oils and lubricants are changed out, if the wrong oil is used in the first place. And the wrong oil is most often the one that’s contaminated and doesn’t meet OEM standards.

Most of the wear and tear to a vehicle is entirely preventable. Its typically caused by a failure to keep the oil in the system clean. Experts estimate that 82% of the wear and tear to mechanical equipment is caused by contamination of the oils and lubricants in the system.

If your goal is to keep your fleet of vehicles and equipment in good working order, then you must make an effort to keep on top of oil system maintenance. That means maintaining regular schedule of oil changes. But you’ll also need to make sure you’re choosing the right oil to use, based on original equipment manufacturers guidelines for cleanliness.

Here’s what you need to know. As part of the manufacturing process, OEMs have done considerable testing to determine the standards set for oil cleanliness in a vehicle, piece of equipment, or part. The standards provide information about how oil contamination levels can impact performance, and even cause irreparable damage.

Contaminated oil damages your equipment in a couple of ways. First, it can cause wear. The fine particles that contaminate oil act like sandpaper inside a piece of machinery. Second, contamination prevents the oils and lubricants from protecting the engine and vehicle components from wear. That means that the normal dirt, minerals, bacteria, and other natural debris that get into the system between components during regular use become a hazard to your equipment. The damage done can include abrasion, erosion, fatigue, adhesion, and fretting.

But the worst contamination comes from particles so small they’re impossible to see, measuring between 1-10 microns. (A micron is one-millionth of a meter. Most people can’t see particles that measure less than 40 microns.)

One source of contamination is new oil that doesn’t meet OEM cleanliness standards. Industry standards have been set and are defined by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO).

To prevent oil contamination — and preventable damage in the process — you’ll want to adhere to the OEM guidelines for your machinery, fleet, equipment and parts. That will help you to ensure that you’re doing everything possible to prevent damage, and expensive (and dangerous) equipment failures.

So, how do you find out what the ISO Clean standards are for your fleet, according to the OEM guidelines? Here are a few tips:

1. Check the owner’s manual. You can often find this information online.
2. Use an online tool, such as the Chevron ISOCLEAN Calculator.
3. Call the manufacturer and speak with a representative.
4. Call experienced fuel fleet service staff (such as the team at Greg’s Petroleum Service) to point you in the right direction.

About Us:
If you need additional information, please know that the team at Greg's Petroleum Service is here to help. As your commercial fuel and lubricant supplier in Bakersfield, Fresno, San Luis Obispo, Santa Clarita or Ventura, California areas, we are available to help answer any questions you might have. Visit us online or give us a call to learn more.