A Better Blend

| April 07, 2005

“We feel that it makes more sense for fleets to purchase the API CI-4 products since these oils provide improved wear performance, better soot handling, better acid neutralization, and increased oxygen stability and volatility, all of which will benefit non-EGR engines,” Arcy says.

Thomson feels switching exclusively to CI-4 oils also could eliminate mistakes: “CI-4 oils are mandatory for use in EGR engines, and there is a chance for errors if multiple performance level oils are stocked,” he says. “We recommend fleets move immediately to an exclusively API CI-4 inventory. Given the current parity in pricing, the increased performance from API CI-4, and the fact that most lubricant suppliers have switched their products from API CH-4 to API CI-4, it doesn’t make much sense to purchase CH-4 oils.”

Harrington’s view is that CI-4 oils are fully backward compatible, and he thinks CH-4 is likely to disappear from the range of products marketed by the majors anyway.

Added Benefits
Harrington says users of CI-4 oils may see the following benefits in their engines: outstanding oil consumption control, fewer deposits and less wear caused by soot loading and improved wear performance, leading to longer drain and overhaul intervals.

“Engine builders have nominally designed their EGR engines to maintain the same drain intervals as non-EGR engines,” Thomson says. “However, actual field experience with EGR engines and API CI-4 oils is limited. Used oil analysis remains an important tool for determining which intervals are best for changing oil. This will be especially important while gaining experience.”

In EGR engines, drain intervals will most likely be shortened or, at best, remain the same. “A fleet needs to evaluate its maintenance intervals to see if it is a candidate for extended service,” Shell’s Arcy says. “A fleet accustomed to extending service intervals with non-EGR engines may have to adjust their drain intervals for their vehicles that have EGR engines.”

Indications are the future could be very bright for pre-EGR diesels that are in sound condition.

“We highly recommend that a fleet use an API CI-4 oil, mainly because the improvements in the oil quality have been proven to benefit non-EGR engines,” Arcy says. “In non-EGR engines, it may be possible to extend the service interval. However the fleet needs to evaluate the drain intervals based on its operating conditions.”

The benefit will be a cost savings for truck owners. “If drain intervals are extended with the API CI-4 oils, the maintenance costs will be reduced,” Thomson says.

“There might even be a push for 100,000-mile change intervals on pre-EGR engines,” says Fleetguards’s Clevenger. “In any case, you’re likely to see a lot of movement, including fleets keeping older equipment longer.”


A good oil filter must pass many stringent tests. Using the OE brand guarantees a filter that will protect your engine and keep your warranty in effect, and Caterpillar recommends only their branded filter. But, you should be able to buy an equivalent filter from another major supplier. Get approval from your dealer or a guarantee from the filter manufacturer to protect yourself.

Filtering through the Choices
What you see is not always what you get in an oil filter

When you buy an oil filter, you want to make sure it will not only protect your engine from wear, but does so well enough to keep any warranty that may apply in force. This is a situation you need to manage.

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