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To keep up to date with the new engine oil categories, increased emissions regulations and an ever-changing engine industry, Fleet Equipment (FE) caught up with Donald Chilton, vice president of product management for Wix, and Roma Fatima, lube product line manager for Cummins Filtration, to pepper them with filter-focused questions.
FE: How do application and engine condition impact oil filter selection?
Chilton: Engine condition is always critical and should be determined with a proper analysis test kit. The application can be important as well. If you are in an extreme environment, a XD or XE filter may be a better choice, but each situation is different.
FE: How does today’s oil filter media remove excess soot build up and support extended oil drain intervals?
Chilton: Media has absolutely progressed in what it can do to support soot removal. Now, there are more combinations our engineers can use to “dial in” an application and design a filter. Longer oil drain intervals typically need more capacity in the filter to meet the expectation. This is another area where media has helped provide a solution with the oil packages on the market today.
FE: What recommendations do you have for a fleet looking to set an oil drain interval baseline? What tests or considerations are a must?
Chilton: Oil analysis is a must. You have to know what the baseline is and the analysis kit gives you an idea where your engine is and what it’s experiencing. Without this, you’re guessing—and that can be an expensive game to play.
FE: What are the most common extended oil drain pitfalls? What maintenance is needed even if an oil change isn’t happening?
Fatima: One pitfall is thinking that the lube filter determines the oil drain service interval. In fact, the limiting factor in extending oil drain service intervals is typically the condition of the oil itself.
If the oil is used for too long, it begins to break down and loses its ability to disperse contaminants. When this happens, the small contaminants (< 4 micron) in the oil begin to agglomerate, or clump together, becoming large enough for the filter to remove them from the oil. Filter restriction increases rapidly, which can be perceived as limiting the oil life when in fact the oil should have been changed before the loss of dispersancy ever occurred.
It’s important to change the oil before it breaks down and oxidizes. Acid levels increase causing corrosion of engine components which can eventually lead to permanent engine damage.
Another pitfall is not using engine oil analysis to determine the optimal time for oil drain service intervals. Take a sample of your used oil in between oil drain events and send it to a reputable fluid analysis laboratory such as Fleetguard Monitor. Used oil analysis can help you monitor the health of your engine under your typical operating conditions and catch issues before significant engine damage occurs.
Finally, pay attention to signs of increased oil consumption. Topping off your oil level frequently can mask oil degradation that would otherwise be noticed during an oil analysis.
FE: As engine oil technology evolves, how are the new oil categories and categories to come impacting oil filtration?
Fatima: From a filtration standpoint, [the new engine oil categories] currently bring no new or specific requirements from engine manufacturers or oil suppliers. If anything, they may help improve oil filter life. New oils promise better oxidation stability, shear stability, resistance to aeration, and greater overall durability at higher operating temperatures. Anything that helps oil last longer should help the filter last longer, too.
There should be no impact on the filter, although any lower-viscosity oil should provide less restriction as it flows through the filter, which can help improve engine efficiency and fuel economy. That said, filter life is directly related to oil life. Following your engine OEM’s recommendations on viscosity will help you get the performance you expect from your oil and lube filter.