Keller-Heartt Blog: June 2016
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Testing and Maximizing Energy Efficiency in Engine Oil

Today’s engines are better designed for low-viscosity oils and synthetic oils. This shift towards oils that maintain viscosity more effectively at extreme temperatures means there are plenty of options for conserving energy. They key to that for drivers and fleet managers is to understand how to accurately fit the demands of an engine and maximize energy savings, as these updates can revitalize an operation, even when the energy conservation is just a small percentage higher.

However, there is no magic trick or steadfast method of concluding with certainty that an oil can conserve energy in your specific circumstances, until after it has been purchased. This makes it tough to take a risk with a new lubricant. An API Service Symbol may specify that an oil for gasoline engines has “Energy Conserving” properties, or you may assume that a low-viscosity, synthetic oil will be more efficient for your diesel engine. While these are helpful hints, the most accurate way to measure energy efficiency is through controlled testing, as oil specifications cannot account for every variable in your specific engine.  

In any machine, an increased total output or decreased operating temperature can indicate energy conservation when switching to a new lubricant. In motor vehicles, the indicator is especially obvious: fuel consumption. An engine uses more energy, and therefore more fuel, when it must work against greater friction. Since low-viscosity oil is thinner, it flows easily and requires less energy to pump through the system. But, depending on special temperature conditions and manufacturer recommendations, simply switching to the lowest viscosity may not improve energy efficiency in all vehicles. Finding the proper balance is a deeper process.

Testing energy efficiency between different, multi-grade motor oils requires that all other variables are controlled in order to calculate the true benefits. Speed, temperature, load, driving conditions, and the amount of oil must be consistent when calculating fuel consumption between two or more oils. Noticeable decreases in fuel consumption may not be evident in one or two vehicles, this method works best when measuring savings on the fleet as a whole.

By measuring and calculating fuel consumption over the course of several months, you will find a more correct fit for your engine, especially when testing between two similar oils. While weighing the pros and cons of purchasing a new, possibly more expensive oil, the tangible data provided by recording fuel consumption can validate a financial investment and give an indication of a possible trade-off between fuel efficiency and wear protection.

To find the most energy-efficient oil for your engine, browse Keller Heartt’s full selection of Motor Oil, featuring trusted brands like Shell, Pennzoil, Quaker State and more. 

When to Switch to Extended Life Coolants

As technology advances and newer diesel engines prove to produce greater heat, the quality of one’s coolant becomes just as important as the quality of one’s motor oil in order to draw heat away from the engine. The case for Extended Life Coolants (ELCs) is strong in light and heavy-duty diesel engines due to the Organic Acid Technology (OAT) in ELCs and the benefits that this technology brings.

Unlike conventional coolants that use inorganic compounds, such as silicates, ELCs use organic acids that are less abrasive and corrosive, especially to materials like aluminum and magnesium. These OAT additives protect the parts of metal surfaces that are most vulnerable to corrosion rather than the entire surface, meaning that only a portion of the compounds deplete at once, therefore extending the life of the coolant. This decreases the need for frequent maintenance and additional silicate additives, and it also decreases labor costs for fleets and other operations.

    Most importantly, however, this technology keeps engines protected. Traditional coolants with silicate additives eventually build up deposits in the cooling system that amass and reduce heat transfer. ELCs, which do not contain silicates, improve heat transfer by over 10% to protect from damaging oxidation and cavitation. Their formulas are also easier on water pump systems so that water pumps and pump seals remain lubricated and safe from wear.

    Not all engines can handle ELCs, particularly old engines, but ELC formulas are appropriate for many applications. Ethylene glycol based ELCs are most common in truck and off-highway equipment. Many ELCs universally cater to diesel, gasoline, and natural gas engines. Propylene glycol based ELCs are less toxic and common in operations that involve contact with humans and animals. For warmer climates and marine applications, a water based ELC provides excellent heat transfer.

    Depending on the engine’s age and the manufacturer’s requirements, an Extended Life Coolant is a great way to provide heat protection in engines that are increasingly producing more heat. Automotive and industrial operations can universally benefit from the longer operating hours that ELCs offer, saving money and time in turn. 

Shell Rotella: Leading the Next Generation of Heavy-Duty Motor Oil

     With a substantial focus on superior wear protection and engine cleanliness in comparison to other brands, Shell Rotella® has become an ally for fleet managers whose rigs are faced with long distances and extreme weather conditions. As engines and oil standards change, Shell is proving that it can lead the pack in researching and implementing the newest technology to meet the strict requirements for hardy engine lubricants.

     In the past, Shell Rotella® T line engine oils evolved to exceed API CJ-4 requirements and compete with previous formulas. Shell asserts that the T Triple Protection®, tested for over 50 million miles, outperforms Rotella® T3 by offering 22% less iron wear. Shell Rotella® then met the demands of the latest diesel engines with its innovative T5 Synthetic Blend—one of the first to offer the 10W-40 grade—and the T6 Full Synthetic formula. According to an industry study, this synthetic formula beat brands like Mobil, Chevron, and Citgo with the smallest percentage of viscosity loss. (This study’s results and more can be found at the Shell Rotella® website).

     Unfortunately, it’s no longer enough to exceed CJ-4 requirements, as the industry’s oil categories are changing. The newest category, PC-11, has updated standards for fuel efficiency and emissions that will come in two specifications. The CK-4 form will directly replace CJ-4 engine oils with full, backwards compatibility, so its superior formula will be applicable to current engines. The FA-4 form is based on better fuel economy, and its lower-viscosity oils will be applicable only to new engines.

     The good news is that Shell Rotella® understands the questions that fleet managers will have once the PC-11 categories goes into effect. How will the new oil perform in comparison? Is it worth it? And will it really work in current engines? Since April, the Shell Rotella® Road Show has educated consumers about the new specifications and what that means for their vehicles and their businesses. The Road Show provided informational exhibits and interactive displays.

     In addition, Shell’s educational site,, states that the company has already tested new, low-viscosity formulas. The trials were conducted over more than 30 million miles to prove the formula’s effectiveness before the new diesel oil specifications begin in December. These trials included the disassembly of engine parts to evaluate the oil’s ability to protect different components.

     For those looking for answers about the immediate future of motor oil, this commitment to education and innovation is a sign that Shell is invested in leading the market for the next generation of heavy-duty lubricants.