Oil Condition Monitoring:
How Oil Analysis Reduces Over Operating Costs for Truck Fleets

Engine oil analysis can provide several cost justifications for trucking companies and fleet managers. Here are some of the key reasons why investing in oil analysis can be financially beneficial.
Extended Oil Change Intervals: Oil analysis can help determine the condition of the engine oil accurately. By identifying the oil's remaining useful life, trucking companies can extend oil change intervals without risking engine damage. This reduces the frequency of oil changes, saving on the cost of oil, filters, and labour.
The average cost associated with engine oil changes for trucks can vary widely depending on several factors, including the type of truck, the engine, the type of oil used, and the location where the service is performed. Here are some approximate cost ranges to consider:

used/unused oil

It's essential to check with your truck manufacturer's recommendations and consult with your maintenance team or service provider to get a more accurate estimate of oil change costs for your specific trucks and operations. Regular maintenance and oil analysis can help optimize oil change intervals and reduce costs in the long run by extending the life of the engine and reducing the risk of costly repairs.
Preventative Maintenance: Oil analysis can detect early signs of engine wear and potential issues such as coolant leaks, fuel dilution, and contamination. Addressing these problems promptly can prevent more extensive and costly engine repairs or replacements down the road.
The typical repair costs associated with diesel engines can vary widely depending on the make and model of the engine, the type of repair needed, labor rates in the area, and whether the repair is performed by an authorized dealer, an independent mechanic, or in-house maintenance staff. However, here are some common diesel engine repair costs you might encounter:

used/unused oil

It's important to note that these are approximate cost ranges, and actual repair costs can vary widely based on factors such as the make and model of the engine, the location of the repair, and whether you are using new or remanufactured parts. Regular maintenance and proactive measures, such as oil analysis and addressing issues early, can help prevent some of these costly repairs and extend the life of the diesel engine. Additionally, warranty coverage may apply to some repairs, depending on the engine's age and service history.
Reduced Downtime: By identifying potential problems early, oil analysis can help prevent unexpected breakdowns and downtime. This leads to fewer repair-related expenses and ensures that trucks remain in operation, generating revenue.
Downtime costs for over-the-road truck fleets due to engine-related issues can be substantial and can encompass various expenses. The exact costs will depend on several factors, including the severity of the issue, the time required for repairs, the availability of replacement parts, and the location of the breakdown. Here are some typical downtime costs associated with engine-related problems for truck fleets:

Minimizing downtime costs is a priority for trucking companies. To mitigate these costs, proactive maintenance practices, such as regular engine oil analysis and comprehensive vehicle inspections, can help identify and address potential issues before they lead to major breakdowns. Additionally, having a well-defined maintenance plan and access to a reliable network of repair facilities can reduce downtime and its associated costs.
Improved Fuel Efficiency: Regular oil analysis can reveal issues that may be negatively impacting fuel efficiency, such as worn piston rings or dirty fuel injectors. Addressing these problems can lead to improved MPG (miles per gallon) and fuel cost savings.
Investing in improved engine performance for over-the-road truck fleets can lead to various costs, but these expenses are often justified by the potential benefits. Here are some typical costs associated with efforts to enhance engine performance for truck fleets:
It's important to note that while there are upfront costs associated with improving engine performance, these investments can lead to long-term benefits such as reduced fuel consumption, increased horsepower, extended engine life, and improved overall efficiency. Fleet managers should carefully assess the potential return on investment (ROI) to determine whether the costs are justified by the expected improvements in performance and operational savings.
Warranty Compliance: Many truck engine manufacturers require regular oil analysis as part of their warranty agreements. Compliance with these requirements ensures that any eligible warranty claims are honored, saving money on costly engine repairs that would otherwise be the responsibility of the trucking company.
Not applying a warranty program for engine performance in over-the-road truck fleets can lead to various costs and risks. While the specific costs can vary depending on factors such as the age and condition of the fleet and the type of engines used, here are some typical costs and consequences associated with not having a warranty program for engine performance:

It's important to note that warranty programs for engine performance can provide financial protection and predictability by covering some or all of the repair costs during the warranty period. When evaluating the costs and benefits, fleet managers should consider the age and condition of their trucks, the expected repair frequency, and the potential savings and peace of mind that a warranty program can offer.
Equipment Longevity: Proper maintenance based on oil analysis results can help extend the life of truck engines and other critical components. This reduces the need for premature equipment replacement, which can be a substantial cost for trucking companies.
Improving engine longevity in over-the-road truck fleets can lead to various costs, but these investments are often justified by the potential benefits, including reduced maintenance costs and extended engine life. Here are some typical costs associated with efforts to enhance engine longevity for truck fleets:

While there are upfront and ongoing costs associated with improving engine longevity in a truck fleet, these investments can lead to long-term savings by reducing breakdowns, minimizing repair expenses, and extending the life of valuable assets. Fleets should carefully assess the potential return on investment (ROI) and prioritize maintenance practices that align with their specific operational needs and objectives.

Resale Value: Well-maintained trucks with a history of regular oil analysis and maintenance tend to have higher resale values. Potential buyers are more likely to pay a premium for used trucks with documented maintenance records.
Regular oil analysis and maintenance for trucks can provide cost justifications in several ways, including contributing to higher resale values. Here's how these practices can lead to increased resale values and overall financial benefits:

While there are costs associated with regular oil analysis and maintenance, the long-term financial benefits, including higher resale values, reduced repair expenses, and increased overall efficiency, typically outweigh these costs. Investing in proactive maintenance and analysis can be a sound financial strategy for fleet operators looking to maximize the value of their assets.
Environmental Compliance: Some regions have strict environmental regulations, and improperly maintained engines can emit excess pollutants. By ensuring engines are in optimal condition, trucking companies can avoid fines and penalties associated with environmental non-compliance. Trucking companies can justify the costs associated with ensuring environmental compliance of engine performance in several ways:

The cost justification for trucking companies to ensure environmental compliance of engine performance is multifaceted. It encompasses avoiding regulatory fines, protecting reputation and brand value, preventing legal and litigation costs, and accessing lucrative contracts and markets. Additionally, it aligns with sustainability goals and can lead to long-term financial benefits.
Improved Overall Efficiency: Regular oil analysis contributes to the overall efficiency of a trucking fleet. Well-maintained trucks perform better, experience fewer breakdowns, and require less unplanned maintenance, all of which lead to cost savings.
Regular oil analysis can contribute to the overall efficiency of a trucking fleet in several ways, leading to various financial benefits. Here are the key financial advantages of incorporating oil analysis into fleet management:

Regular oil analysis can result in cost savings related to maintenance, repairs, downtime, fuel consumption, and extended equipment life. These financial benefits contribute to the overall efficiency and profitability of a trucking fleet, making oil analysis a valuable investment for fleet managers.

While engine oil analysis does come with some upfront costs, the long-term financial benefits, including reduced maintenance expenses, extended equipment life, and improved operational efficiency, can more than justify the investment for semi-tractor trailer trucks. It's essential to consider these factors when making decisions about implementing oil analysis programs in a fleet management strategy.

About the Author

Michael D. Holloway is a veteran in the industry with 38 years of experience including product research and development, application engineering, program management, technical sales and marketing. He has been involved in the development and certification preparation instruction for lubrication, maintenance, reliability, quality, and safety. He is considered a subject matter expert in condition-based maintenance, reliability, lubrication, oil analysis, wear debris analysis, failure analysis, tribology, and technical writing. Holloway has a patent, earned 4 university degrees, published 11 books, and holds 16 professional certifications. He can be reached at michaeldholloway63@gmail.com

Michael D. Holloway

Global Technical Manager | SGS