Maximising fleet fuel economy with low viscosity engine oils

by Darryl Purificati, Sr. Technical Advisor, OEM/Automotive for Petro-Canada Lubricants, an HF Sinclair brand and chair of the American Petroleum Institute (API) lubricants committee

Improving fleet fuel economy is a constant task for fleet managers and owners. Fuel economy is often a priority for fleets; after driver wages and benefits, fuel represents the largest cost of ownership expense.   Technology and training methods to improve efficiency are constantly evolving. This often means that the role engine oils can play in improving engine performance and, in turn, fuel economy is overlooked.

Low viscosity fuel savings

For fleets looking to enhance engine efficiency and reduce fuel consumption, low viscosity engine oils should be a key consideration.

With the ability to flow more easily through the engine while reducing engine drag and pumping and rotational losses, they enable the engine to use less fuel to achieve the same output resulting in improved fuel economy.

Low viscosity engine oils also undergo the same qualification test programs as higher viscosity lubricants proving their ability to protect to the engine’s internal hardware from wear.

Lower viscosity lubricants that meet the API FA-4 specification, such as Petro-Canada Lubricants DURONTM Advanced 5W-30, have been designed to match and support the efficiency of modern engine technology. In fact, according to industry data API FA-4 engine oils provide additional potential fuel savings over API CK-4 of the same grade – up to 1% when comparing an SAE XW-30 with 3.5cP HTHS to an XW-30 with 3.1cP HTHS.

Added to this, in a trial with Light Speed Logistics DURON Advanced 5W-30 was predicted to secure total cost savings of CAN $1.26 million per year – C$1 million per year cost savings for reduced downtime and C$260,000 per year saving on reduce cost of oil, filter and labour – if the company upgraded its entire fleet of more than 1,100 units to the lower viscosity oil.

These benefits have driven a trend in the on-road industry away from thicker and heavier engine oils. Data from additive manufacturer, Infineum, has highlighted that SAE 15W-40 lubricants have peaked and are forecast to decline to near 30% by 20292. By the same year, SAE 10W-30 is expected to account for approximately 40% of the market while SAE 5W-XX could account for up to 10%[1].

A holistic approach

This trend is also impacting on the other fluids and lubricants used throughout a truck, where additional fuel economy gains can be secured.

For example, controlled field testing of low viscosity gear oils has found they can offer up to a 2.25% fuel economy improvement when transitioning from a SAE 85W-140 fluid to SAE 75W-90. This is crucial as any fuel economy gains secured by the engine oil can be lost if the drivetrain is not operating at high efficiency to transmit the power from the engine.

However, when selecting a new lubricant or making any changes to your lubricant program be sure to consult the Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) manual and the expertise of a lubricant technical services advisor. This is vital as using the wrong lubricant can result in increased component wear and affect the validity of warranties.

Low viscosity lubricants offer an untapped potential for fleets looking to improve their fuel economy performance. By working with a lubricant expert, your fleet can benefit from enhanced lubrication, efficiency and in turn, fuel economy savings that have a real impact on a business’ operation.

To put Petro-Canada Lubricants DURONTM to the test, visit:



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