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What Makes Oil Changes Necessary?

You’ve racked up many miles and suddenly the dashboard oil light is on. When you check the dipstick under the hood, you notice the oil is black and gritty. It’s time for an oil change. You know the signs, but do you understand the physical degradation that makes oil changes necessary? Let’s assess the damage that can occur without routine oil changes.


Dirt and other harmful contaminants enter the engine through air cleaners, oil fill caps, and crankcase ventilation systems. In addition to dust and dirt, small metal particles from engine parts can make your motor oil less effective. Sludge and corrosion, which can ultimately change your motor oil’s viscosity, can also be caused by water vapor that has condensed on cylinder walls or by soot that forms through incomplete combustion.

Extreme Temperatures

In cold and freezing temperatures, your motor oil may thicken to a point where it cannot flow properly for several minutes. As the oil takes time to heat up and thin out, your engine could be in danger of wear and damage.

In extreme heat, viscosity may also increase due to sludge and chemical breakdown. High heat also increases oxidation, creating rust and harmful deposits that can damage your engine.

Stress and Pressure

Intense pressure between internal moving parts can break the protective layer of film formed by the oil. Air, especially oxygen molecules, can get trapped in the oil and cause oxidation or further prevent the oil from protecting metal surfaces from contact and friction.

Additive Depletion

Keller-Heartt’s catalog of automotive and heavy duty motor oils has a high level of quality additives that include detergents, corrosion inhibitors, antifoaming agents, and more. However, the effects of temperature, shearing, and other severe conditions can deplete additives and make the oil less efficient. It is important to use quality synthetic motor oil with strong additives that can withstand these conditions, but it is equally important to change the oil once depletion occurs.

What Do New CK-4 and FA-4 Oils Mean for Your Fleet?

The climate is getting hotter and so are modern engines. While federal regulations for emissions are currently being discussed within the new administration, two new categories of engine oil were recently made available for gas and diesel engines to improve fuel economy, keep up with changing engine technology, and adhere to EPA guidelines. The new CK-4 and FA-4 oils come as a replacement to old CJ-4 oils with greater, cost-saving benefits.

How will consumers save money?

CK-4 and FA-4 oils promise greater fuel economy and a longer oil lifespan. Consumers will get longer drain intervals due to a more stable oil with strong, protective additives. There are several components that make CK-4 and FA-4 oils more efficient:

  1. CK-4 oils run hotter. Today’s engines run at higher temperatures, meaning vehicles need to have a higher HTHS (Higher Temperature High Shear) viscosity oil. CK-4 oils have improved shear stability to handle high stress conditions and maintain viscosity so that your oil, and your engine, won’t fail.
  2. FA-4 oil has a lower HTHS viscosity, so it is easier to pump, especially during cold starts. Lower viscosity oils therefore increase fuel economy, and FA-4 oil is tested to improve fuel economy beyond CK-4 oils in diesel engines.
  3. One of the greatest benefits of both oils are their strong resistance to oxidation. Oxidation increases oil viscosity by creating sludge, leading to premature oil changes and maintenance costs. These new oils, however, promote stability and cleanliness under heavy-duty conditions.
  4. CK-4 and FA-4 oils have better aeration control than previous CJ-4 oils. High-speed engine operations cause air bubbles to become trapped in engine oil, but the new oil varieties are better able to release air bubbles so your oil won’t be compromised.

Who benefits?

CK-4 oils have full backwards compatibility with older engine models, and these oils are available in all current grades. Though Ford and Motorcraft do not recommend CK-4 oils for their F-series diesel trucks, CK-4 oils will benefit most engines. FA-4 oil, however, has limited backwards compatibility. These oils are designed for the newest engine models. It is best to check with the engine manufacturer to determine if CK-4 or FA-4 oils are right for you.

When you need the highest quality CK-4 and FA-4 oils at the best price for your fleet, Keller-Heartt has you covered! Shop our large inventory of heavy duty motor oils here.

Keeping Used Oil Alive: The Importance of Recycling Oil

One shop’s waste is another shop’s treasure, and that applies to the economic and environmental benefits of recycling used oil. The life of your oil doesn’t have to die once it’s time for a drain.

Why recycle oil?

Motor oil degrades slowly and counts as a major source of water contamination and pollution in the environment. Re-refining oil is a preferable method to purify used oil, reuse it as a base stock in new motor oil, and continue its utility in an unlimited loop. According to the EPA, re-refining used oil takes only one-third the energy of creating virgin lubricants from crude oil. In fact, it takes just one gallon of used oil, rather than 42 gallons of crude oil, to create nearly 3 quarts of new lubricant.

Who uses recycled oil?

Many shops and fleet managers use re-refined oil treated from their own used oil to benefit economically, because re-refined oil is just as effective as new oil. Used oil can also be recycled as material in the petroleum industry or burned as fuel for heat and power in industrial applications. Used oil filters can also be collected for their scrap metal.

How can I recycle oil?

  • Keep used oil in a labelled, leak-proof container and drain any used oil from the filter. 
  • Used oil can be brought to many auto shops and collection sites.
  • Check with state environmental agency for more information on best practices and recycling programs in your area. 

Three Reasons Every Shop Needs a Parts Washer

When you’re gearing up to make repairs, reassemble engine parts, or keep industrial machinery in top shape, you don’t want to spend more time than is necessary to get those parts clean. If the shop has been thrown everything and the kitchen sink, don’t settle for any sink to get the job done. The most reliable way to create a more efficient production is to let an appropriate parts washer do the grit work for you. And removing grease, grime, chips, and debris is only the first benefit.

Parts Washers Reduce Labor Time

One of the greatest advantages of a parts washer is its ability to reduce scrubbing time, as well as waste removal labor. Spray cabinets, agitating washers, and even ultrasonic washers (using sound energy) that include heavy duty pumps, large soaking basins, or agitators allow technicians to clean especially large or difficult parts with little effort and minimal scrubbing. This frees up time to tend to other tasks. Though sink-on-drum washers (common for auto shops and smaller parts) require a bit more manual work, their simple and easily moveable design makes waste removal no sweat.

Parts Washers Can Make the Work Environment Safer

Numerous parts washers today use aqueous solutions, a mixture of water and detergents that are less flammable and harmful to one’s health. If possible, switching from a petroleum-based or chlorinated solvent diminishes the risks of workplace illness. Automatic washers and spray cabinets also reduce the amount of hand-contact with the solution to minimize irritation.

Then come the cost benefits. In addition to employee safety, this eco-friendly option will save you money in toxic waste management and costs associated with regulatory and compliance issues. Since aqueous parts washers don’t contain VOCs, the water waste is allowed to evaporate. There will be less remaining waste to manage as a result.

Make a Return on Your Investment with a Parts Washer’s Lasting Endurance

The more automatic and aggressive the parts washer, the more expensive the start-up cost will be. But that’s not to say that a parts washer beyond a simple sink-on-drum will not pay for itself over time. The longevity of parts washers is improved with dual filtration systems, asbestos socks, and oil skimming mechanisms so that you can reuse the washer solutions over and over again. The washer’s continual productivity, coupled with reduced labor time, will realize more efficient assemblies and repairs, resulting in greater profits and yield.

Want to cash in on these benefits? Keller-Heartt’s catalog of Fluidall parts washers and degreaser concentrates will help you get the ball rolling and the grime disappearing.

Benefits of Fluid Storage Tanks for Complete Storage Management

The phrase ‘Less is more’ isn’t limited to your wardrobe or interior design. In fact, that common adage is a motto that can save you money, time, and valuable inventory in your shop. Lubricants and other auto and industrial fluids’ packaging can take up quite a bit of space, leading to unnecessary labor, uncleanliness, and additional waste. The solution is to invest in fluid storage tanks. By condensing multiple drums or containers of a single fluid into one tank, you can reap numerous benefits:
  1. Reducing the number of containers creates more floor space and eliminates clutter that can get in the way of your operation. By eliminating the number of containers, you can more efficiently organize, store, and label fluids.
  2. Compact fluid storage with accessible fill ports makes it simpler to buy fluids in bulk, which is often more cost-effective.
  3. A fluid storage tank has easier mobility, so employees won’t have to roll multiple drums from point A to point B in order to dispense fluid. This is less time-consuming, but more importantly, it is safer for employees who no longer have to strain or risk injury when rolling, pushing, pulling, or breaking (moving from standing position) a drum.
  4. Outside storage, leaky containers, and other contamination hazards can be eradicated with strong, polyethylene storage tanks. Increase your indoor space with stackable tanks and decrease unusable, dirty fluid.
  5. Fluid storage tanks allow you to condense half-full containers of fluid to reduce the amount of waste caused by excessive packaging. Many polyethylene tanks are translucent, so you can easily track the total amount of fluid remaining in your operation.
Are you ready to take advantage of the many benefits organized fluid storage has to offer? Use code STORAGE by the end of February for a 5% discount on lubricant storage equipment, including Fluidall tanks, from Keller-Heartt.

FAQs About Diesel Exhaust Fluid Storage

What is the shelf life of diesel exhaust fluid in storage?

If diesel exhaust fluid is stored between the recommended temperatures of 12°F and 90°F, the expected shelf life is approximately 1 year.

Is it OK to store diesel exhaust fluid in high temperature areas?

Avoid storing diesel exhaust fluid at high temperatures whenever possible. When stored at temperatures between 12°F and 90°F, DEF can be expected to have a shelf life of approximately 1 year. When stored in an environment where high temperatures occur, typically over 90°F, this can lead to reduced shelf life and the formation of ammonia in the DEF.

Does diesel exhaust fluid freeze?

Yes. Diesel exhaust fluid will freeze if exposed to temperatures under 12°F, however, DEF that has frozen can still be used once it has thawed and has returned to a completely liquid state.

Is diesel exhaust fluid a hazardous substance?

No. By comparison to fluids such as diesel fuel and brake fluid, diesel exhaust fluid is less
hazardous, composed of naturally occurring components, and is biodegradable.
DEF is listed as a "non-hazardous" material and can be transported without a DOT
approved hazardous substance placard.

Will diesel exhaust fluid harm my aluminum container?

It is more important to consider what materials will harm the diesel exhaust fluid itself rather than what materials the DEF can harm as DEF will not harm most materials. The metal from aluminum tanks can leach into the DEF causing it to become contaminated.

What materials are compatible with diesel exhaust fluid?

Caution must be used when selecting an appropriate storage material for diesel exhaust fluid as there are many materials that will damage the DEF. DEF approved stainless steel and poly are common materials used in DEF storage. DEF approved storage containers are available from Keller-Heartt here.

Is it normal to see a build up of chalky, white material around the DEF storage containers and nozzles?

Yes, DEF can leave a chalky residue behind when the liquid evaporates. This is normal and can simply be cleaned off with deionized water.

If you are in need of DEF storage equipment, Keller-Heartt can help. Browse our complete selection of DEF storage equipment here and use the code STORAGE at checkout through 2/28/17 to save 5% on all storage products.

The Benefits of Comprehensive Hydraulic Fluid Testing

No steadfast rule exists that can tell you when it is time to change your hydraulic oil. This depends solely on the quality of your oil, as it would be costly and wasteful to prematurely change fluid or filters that have very little contamination. A comprehensive fluid analysis, however, can give you an accurate picture.
Conventional wisdom dictates that your hydraulic oil should be tested, at the very least, quarterly. For systems that are exposed to other elements, including marine hydraulic systems, testing may be more frequent. Some operations that own their own testing kits will have an even better handle on preventative maintenance by finding contamination well before the oil needs changing, or worse, once a failure analysis is needed. While DIY testing is an excellent line of defense for your hydraulic system, additional lab testing offers an in-depth analysis of more than just contamination severity, but also the type and source of contamination.
A lab analysis can give you information on three things: degradation, wear, and contamination. This information is deduced by testing the following:

  • Additive depletion: Are anti-foaming or anti-wear additives degraded?
  • Viscosity: Have particles increased viscosity, making the oil more difficult to pump? Has the pour point changed significantly?
  • Metal wear and contamination
  • Water contamination: Is water present, causing a decrease in fluid viscosity?
  • Changes in acidity
  • Particle Count: How clean is the oil?

Spectrometric analysis for additive and trace metal content, particle isolation for particle identification, and Energy Dispersive X-Ray (EDX) analysis for exceptional contamination, are all common tests performed by laboratories that provide much more information than an in-house, portable particle counter. Though some available technology offers elemental analysis of contaminants, portable particle counters often give information limited to the number of particles and their size.

Furthermore, the analytical techniques in a lab have the added benefit of expert knowledge, and that knowledge frees up the ability to skirt costly and time-consuming employee training in your operation. The process is as simple as taking a sample while the system is operating, either from a valve on the system’s return line just before the filter, or in the midpoint of a reservoir, away from its walls and base. Once the lab receives and analyzes the sample, a thorough report will be sent back with helpful guidance and warning signs for your hydraulic system.

If the time is right to change the fluid in your hydraulic system, Keller-Heartt can help. Use the code HYD5 by January 31st to save 5% on all hydraulic fluid.