TORONTO, Ont. – Nearly a year after Petro-Canada Lubricants rolled out its new CK-4 and FA-4 heavy-duty engine oil categories, the company says it has successfully converted its customers to the new products.
In an update yesterday at its Toronto lubricants plant, Barnaby Ngai, category portfolio manager, heavy-duty engine and driveline oils, said the company opted to convert completely to the new category oils last Dec. 1, and that it has proven to be the right decision.
“We don’t want to create any more complexity. We know our CK-4 is back-serviceable, we know it’s better. There really is no reason why you wouldn’t move to a CK-4,” Ngai explained. “We have been able to successfully transition our entire customer base over to the new platform.”
The CK-4 and FA-4 oils offer fleets performance benefits, better protection, and the opportunity to extend drain intervals. The better-performing oils were demanded by engine manufacturers, and represented the first category update in about a decade.
“It was roughly 10 years since we saw CJ-4 and industry users were very familiar with CJ-4,” Ngai said. “This is a whole brand new ballgame, so it’s a big milestone in the industry and for ourselves at Petro-Canada.”
Petro-Canada’s heavy-duty engine oil now consists of: Duron HP 15W-40; Duron SHP 15W-40 and 10W-30; Duron UHP 10W-40, 0W-40, 0W-30, 5W-30, and 5W-40; and Duron Advanced FA-4 10W-30, with a 5W-30 coming later.
“All the way around, the new product line is superior,” said Ngai.
Brian Humphrey, OEM technical liaison, heavy-duty driveline, said the industry has transitioned quite well to the new oils.
“It was a pretty big move for them this year to slide over, but for the most part the industry has done pretty well,” Humphrey said. “With the full backwards-compatibility of CK-4, people were quite comfortable moving to that product. We didn’t feel it was necessary to carry over the old line of CJ-4 and for the most part I think people found it fairly easy to slide over to the new products.”
The FA-4, however, hasn’t seen much adoption as of yet. It’s only approved so far by Detroit, and on newer engines.
“It’s not flying off the shelves,” Humphrey admitted of FA-4, even though its high temperature-high shear properties mean it will deliver the best fuel economy of the new oils. “It’s not really a surprise. People who operate expensive equipment are a conservative bunch. The bigger the engine and the more it costs, the more resistant to change they are.”
Humphrey said he expects FA-4 to gain popularity when more engine manufacturers become comfortable with its ability to fully protect the engine and when fleets convert fully to current generation engines. But engine OEMs want to see more data before widely permitting its use.
John Pettingill, product specialist, offered test results that show the new oils offer better protection than their predecessors. Most testing was done hauling 140,000-lb GVW loads, he noted. Shear stability testing showed the new Duron HP 15W-40 offers improved shear stability and less metal wear within the engine. At 70,000 kms, testing showed just 50 PPM of iron.
“That’s amazing,” Pettingill said. “We’ve come a long way to provide wear protection.”
In another test with a Toronto-area waste hauling company, Duron SHP 15W-40 drain intervals were doubled from 400 hours of operation, to 800 hours. Jepson Petroleum, a Calgary, Alta.-based petroleum hauler extended drain intervals by 50% from 500 hours to 750.
Ngai said the company has been able to use its Duron Challenge to convert fleets to Petro-Canada oil. Petro-Canada provides the benchmark testing, free oil for a number of units, and oil analysis support. DLM Trucking, based in Yakima Valley, Wash., converted to Petro-Canada from the oil supplier it had used for 30 years after extending drain intervals from 20,000 miles to 40,000 miles and eliminating oil consumption in the first 20,000 miles, which had been a problem.
Despite the transition to lower-viscosity engine oils, Ngai said the 15W-40 grade continues to dominate the market, with about 80% penetration. But he pointed out OEMs are now factory filling with 10W-30 and convincing fleets to make the change to lower-viscosity oils, which improve fuel economy and cold weather pumpability.
The switch to FA-4 oils could take longer, as Humphrey admitted it’s difficult for fleets to measure the potential 1% fuel economy improvement in real world applications.
“To be frank, in the real world measuring things in the order of 0.5-1% fuel economy improvement is difficult,” he said. “The chances of a customer just taking a couple of units, throwing the oil in and a month later asking the guy ‘Did you pump more fuel into the truck or not,’ you’re just not going to get a good answer to that.”
Ngai’s suggestion is to incorporate fuel-efficient oils into a broader overall initiative to improve fuel economy to get the best results.
James Menzies is editor of Truck News magazine. He has been covering the Canadian trucking industry for more than 15 years and holds a CDL. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter at @JamesMenzies. All posts by James Menzies