Lube Advisor

Ways That Oil Can Improve Fuel Savings

Ways To Improve Power Train Efficiency And Fuel Economy

Even a slight improvement in fuel efficiency can go a long way with heavy duty trucks and fleets. In fact, a small increase in fuel efficiency can result in many thousands – or hundreds of thousands – of dollars in fuel savings each year, depending on the number of trucks in the fleet and total miles driven. 

Many fleets see fuel economy improvement of 1-4%, sometimes more, when they change from HD 15W-40 CK-4 Conventional to 10W-30 CK-4 Conventional or upgrade to a Synthetic Blend or Full Synthetic. The improvement varies by fleet usage and is usually a bigger savings for long-haul service.

Now, with the introduction of the new PC-11 and CK-4 standards, which require lighter viscosity oils that deliver improved mileage and lower emissions, the move toward greater power train/energy efficiency and improved fuel economy is well under way.

By their makeup and composition alone, lower viscosity diesel engine oils provide lower fuel consumption and lower costs per mile. That’s because there’s less energy loss in the combustion cycle, which means more energy to expend on the road.

Heavier viscosity oils cause more stress on fuel pumps, especially during warm-up cycles. The engine works harder to circulate thicker fluids through the system to pistons, valve train and crankshaft. With the added drag on oil flow, fuel efficiency is negatively impacted. So the case for lower viscosity oils makes sense.

Reducing friction regarding low viscosity oils

Many professional truckers have concerns, or remain skeptical, regarding the level of friction protection that lighter viscosity oils can provide. Certainly, heavier viscosity oils create a thicker protective film between internal, moving engine parts.

However, many new, low viscosity oil formulations also contain advanced chemical additives and friction modifiers that compensate for low viscosities and actually strengthen the oil. In many cases, lighter viscosity oils provide greater anti-friction wear protection than thicker oils of the past.

It’s important for you to do your own research, comparing the properties and benefits of competitive oil brands to determine the best oil for your situation. Keep in mind that there are many other external factors that affect fuel economy – highway miles driven per year, drive cycles, type of terrain, load weights, tire inflation, weather conditions and more.

Every little advantage you can give yourself will pay off over the long haul.