Where Protection Meets Fuel Savings: What To Know About FA-4 Oils

Where Protection Meets Fuel Savings: What To Know About FA-4 Oils

Sponsored by Phillips 66 Lubricants

With a fleet to manage and a bottom line to protect, you don’t always have time to research things like the new API FA-4 diesel engine oil category. As we approach the second anniversary of first licensing for the new API Service Categories, it is worth highlighting the most notable trends and opportunities available with the advent of these new products.

A recap on CK-4, FA-4

The previous category, API CJ-4, was in place for 10 years. During that time, engine builders made many significant changes to their designs, leading to the need for an improved oil service category. The combination of higher power densities (smaller displacement engines providing more power), improved aerodynamics, and modern emissions systems has resulted in higher engine temperatures — which increases the need for oils with enhanced thermal stability and oxidation control. Additionally, federal regulations continue to emphasize improved fuel economy for heavy-duty trucks, which resulted in the groundbreaking split categories — API CK-4 as a direct replacement of CJ-4, and the first-ever “F” category, FA-4, for fuel-efficient oils. These FA-4 products are exclusively 10W-30 and 5W-30 viscosities.

How do the new FA-4 oils provide better fuel economy?

Perhaps the most confusing aspect of the new categories is the emergence of two different 10W-30s (CK-4 and FA-4). They are both the same Kinematic Viscosity, so what is the difference? Simply put, the FA-4 10W-30 has lower internal fluid friction, which provides the fuel economy advantage since it takes less energy to pump it through the engine. This property, known as Absolute Viscosity (reported in centipoise [“cP”]), measures frictional drag within the lubricant itself using the High Temperature/High Shear test, which is designed to emulate the area between an engine’s crankshaft and the connecting rod journal bearings in a warmed-up engine. It’s important to remember that FA-4 products must pass the same exact performance tests as CK-4 oils, but must do it with the lower HTHS values. Holding FA-4 to the same performance standard ensures that there is no compromise in the level of protection provided.

A conservative approach

To meet the­­ir fuel economy targets, most heavy-duty engine builders have been using API CJ-4/CK-4 10W-30 for years as their factory-fill, with some now using FA-4 10W-30. In the larger service fill environment, CK-4 15W-40 still is the dominant viscosity grade, representing nearly 75 percent of the heavy-duty engine oil sales in the U.S. But 10W-30 is the fastest growing grade and for good reason. A fleet with Class 8 trucks should reasonably expect that a move from 15W-40 to CK-4 10W-30 will provide a fuel economy benefit of about 1 percent. Using FA-4 10W-30 should net about 1.5 percent savings, and a switch to FA-4 5W-30 has shown 2 percent (up to 3 percent in Classes 3-6) better fuel efficiency in laboratory and field testing.

While the annualized diesel fuel savings based on a 2 percent to 3 percent improvement should provide a significant temptation, the idea of jumping from a 15W-40 you’ve trusted for 20 years into a heavy-duty 5W-30 might be a little daunting for all but the most dedicated early adopters. In such cases, it’s perfectly reasonable to take a measured approach in the adoption of FA-4 engine oils. Conservative fleet operators may consider a progression from CK-4 15W-40 to CK-4 10W-30 or FA-4 10W-30 to be simpler to implement. After a few years of experience with those products and with the gradual shift in fleet mix toward newer trucks, which are optimized to take full advantage of the lower viscosity oils available, a move to the full synthetic 5W-30 diesel engine oils will be easier to implement. If you’re operating Class 3, Class 4, Class 5, or Class 6 equipment, the leap to FA-4 5W-30 should be considered more quickly to take full advantage of the existing savings potential.

Phillips 66 recommends that you work with your local supplier to discuss opportunities for fuel economy improvement. These discussions should incorporate your typical duty cycles and maintenance goals to find the best balance for your specific equipment mix.

This article was sponsored by Phillips 66 Lubricants. To learn more about the benefits of low viscosity FA-4 engine oils, visit Phillips66Lubricants.com.

You May Also Like

What you need to know about wheel seals with RevHD

Brian Beathard, vice president, sales and marketing, RevHD stopped by the Babcox Media studio to talk about the importance of wheel seals. In addition to providing top wheel seal spec’ing tips, Beathard talked about the RevHD Rev Max wheel seal orange top plate, which the company says allows customers to see in an instant whether the


Brian Beathard, vice president, sales and marketing, RevHD stopped by the Babcox Media studio to talk about the importance of wheel seals. In addition to providing top wheel seal spec'ing tips, Beathard talked about the RevHD Rev Max wheel seal orange top plate, which the company says allows customers to see in an instant whether the seal needs to be replaced. The Rev Max seal also features a flex design, which helps to avoid common failures from docking the hub onto the spindle and cocking the seal in the hub bore.

Optimized: Know How to Plan When You Know What Parts Will Sell

The parts department is a busy, even chaotic place. There is never a shortage of things to worry about or issues to monitor. You got parts sales, team performance, deciding whether or not to eat your lunch while standing at your desk because, as you know, the parts business doesn’t take lunch breaks.  Speaking of

Brake pads you can be grateful for

As we make our way into the season of thanks and gratitude, we find ourselves appreciating the things that may frequently go unnoticed in day to day life. If you flip a lightswitch, the bulb comes on. And when you turn on the faucet, clean water flows from the tap. If you hit your brakes,

Less weight, more strength: How composite spring suspensions apply both benefits

Stronger. Lighter. It’s the dichotomy that nearly all fleets chase when it comes to spec’ing new equipment. This lean, mean spec’ing strategy can boost efficiency and provide equipment longevity. When you think about suspensions for demanding applications, tried-and-true steel spring suspensions spring to mind. (Pun intended.) But what if there was another way–a suspension that

Protecting both sides of the trailer floor is the best way to combat corrosion and maximize service life and it’s one company’s mission to solve this industry problem

Trailer manufacturers are always looking for ways to combat corrosion by using alternative materials and coatings. Rockland Flooring has come up with a combination of products that will preserve the wood, improve performance and extend service life. With Rockland Flooring, obtaining quality service and trailer flooring does not mean having to break the bank. In

Other Posts

Case Study: New Cab Climate Solution Greatly Reduces Idling

Wheeler CAT Fleet Manager Scott Cline wanted to reduce the engine idle time racked up by the fleet’s service trucks when technicians were out on jobs.  Idle time was averaging 34% across the truck fleet, with some trucks hitting 50% idle time. The numbers were driving up fuel costs and increasing engine maintenance and downtime. 

10 ways predictive maintenance with telematics data can boost fuel efficiency

With fluctuating fuel costs, a predictive maintenance program with telematics data can provide substantial fuel savings to reduce operating costs. Proper vehicle maintenance is essential for the safe and efficient operation of your fleet. But did you know that it can also improve fuel economy by as much as 5% to 10%? Not only that,

The five most frequently asked bearing maintenance questions

Bearings play a crucial role on all wheel ends to keep your loads rolling, and they need maintenance TLC just like any other truck component. Bower has been producing bearings since 1907, so they’ve seen it all in the field. Today, Bower Heavy Duty Bearings by NTN conducts in-field bearing maintenance training for fleets to

Troubleshooting common issues with heavy duty clutch bearings

We get it. Your wheel bearings are not at the top of your fleet inspection checklist, but just like your engine, transmission, or tires, ignoring proper maintenance procedures of your wheel bearings can cause damage. The failure of your truck’s clutch bearings, for example, could sideline it and potentially cause further damage to the entire