Excluding Routine Oil Analysis In Your Fleet PM Program Is A Risk You Shouldn’t Be Taking


Over time, we have seen many of our trucking customers with mixed fleets of newer and older vehicles produced by different OEMs. This prevents quite a challenge when it comes to preventive maintenance programs.
 
Instead of carrying out programs that look at each vehicle individually, a large number of these operators believe that they can have a single standardized preventive maintenance program that they can use for their entire fleet, regardless of the age, type and make of the vehicle.
 
This basically means they use the same oil grade for new and old engines, and that they service vehicles on the same schedule. This can also often mean more oil changes than the recommended frequency by OEMs. This leads them to think that they can afford to do without routine oil analysis.
 
So let’s address the flaws of this approach. Firstly, it costs more. Maintenance managers using this conservative approach are not using oil optimally, and so are spending significantly more than they need to on service and oil year after year. Factoring in the downtime for service across a mid or large-sized fleet, the costs of these unnecessary maintenance pile up pretty quick.
 
Secondly, routine oil analysis isn’t only useful to check the status of in-service oil. It’s also a highly effective method for uncovering a variety of issues that can seriously hurt your engine’s performance and durability. Through routine oil analysis, you can avoid issues such as coolant leakage, dirt contamination, and fuel dilution, among a large number of other potential risks. By letting go of routine oil analysis altogether, you are foregoing that insight and risking critical equipment failure.
  
It goes without saying that routine oil analysis gives you a fair idea of how long your oil could hold up. This knowledge will allow you to establish more realistic maintenance schedules that will take into account the changing requirements of vehicles in your fleet.
 
To make sure you’re getting the most out of your fleet, you should be using the grade of oil recommended by the OEM for each vehicle and its application. It also pays to have an extensive preventive maintenance program that covers each vehicle separately and takes into account its individual requirements.
 
You can also use routine oil analysis to identify any potential problems in your fleet and make an informed decision about the safe zone of extending your drain intervals for each vehicle.
 
While we agree that routine oil analysis requires an amount of extra effort, compared to the savings in annual maintenance and downtime costs, it’s a profitable investment. 

 

James Booth
About the Author: James Booth graduated from the University of Southampton (UK) with an undergraduate degree in Mechanical Engineering and Ph.D. in Tribology. James began his career with Chevron 10 years ago in Chevron Oronite Technology, The Netherlands, and later moved to Richmond (Ca, USA), as a formulator within Automotive Engine Oil (AEO) Product Development team. He previously held the position of Americas region AEO Product Qualification Team Leader, and vice-Chair of the American Chemistry Council Product Approval Protocol Task Group. James is currently the Commercial Sector Manager supporting Chevron’s Delo brand and other related lubricants brands.

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