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Low-grade engine oils limit service intervals in the GCC

The use of sub-standard engine oils based on yesterday’s technology is currently a key factor limiting the extension of service intervals in the medium-duty fleet segment in the Gulf

Adriaan de Kok, business manager for the Middle East at Chevron Al Khalij, the parent company for the Caltex brand.
Adriaan de Kok, business manager for the Middle East at Chevron Al Khalij, the parent company for the Caltex brand.

Medium-duty fleet operators in the region are reluctant to increase the length of their truck service intervals beyond 5,000km, according to Adriaan de Kok, business manager for Chevron Al Khalij, the producer of Caltex engine oils.

De Kok made his comments in the wake of Chevron’s retirement of its CF-rated Caltex diesel engine oils in March 2017, in line with regulatory requirements in the Gulf.

Fleets using modern oils, including Caltex’s latest CH-4 Delo FleetPro product, he noted, can readily increase their oil drain intervals to 10,000km — a shift that delivers a significant decrease in the oil’s total cost of ownership.

The problem, he explained, is the persistence of service habits from times when engine oils offered little to no corrosion or dust protection.

De Kok explained: “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.”

Indeed, the longer service intervals are accepted by the truck manufacturers, and fall well within the limits of the technology.

“Traditionally, OEMs might recommend a change every 5,000km, but now, many have gone to 15,000km — so that’s just a continuation of pushing the oils a bit further,” noted de Kok.

Another inhibiting factor 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 are a lot of trucks that might not be warranted beyond two to three years — and then many operators fall back into their old habits: using the older CF-4 type specification and changing every 5,000km.

“But the reality is that trucks today require draining at intervals of 10,000km, 15,000km or even 20,000km — so they’ve advanced a lot.”

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 highlighted: “We run in-service oil analysis with our customers, such as DP World and Al Shirawi Transport, and we actually do oil testing on their engines at 10,000km or 20,000km, and so we’ve actually monitored it.”

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

The limits of an engine oil are determined by the levels of additives for tackling corrosion and for safely suspending soot and dust in the mixture without allowing it to effect the viscosity or performance of the lubricant.

Chevron’s most advanced CJ-4 product can deliver service intervals of up to 100,000km, “because it’s so dosed”, remarked 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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