The Ultimate Guide To Semi-Truck Oil Changes

Semi Truck

Oil changes are an essential ongoing preventive maintenance service needed by all commercial truck owners. Semi-truck oil changes also rank as one of the more costly ongoing expenses that truck owners must burden. Thus, new methods of extending the oil change interval on commercial vehicles are being developed every year.

In recent years, there has been a substantial increase in the number of miles commercial drivers can travel before their vehicle needs an oil change. In the 1950s, commercial truck oil changes were required after only 500 miles for many heavy-duty vehicles. Due to cutting-edge advancements in engine build quality, oil filter design, and fuel quality, modern trucks can stay on the road much longer.

In fact, some higher-end vehicles can drive up to 50,000 miles on the same oil drain interval. Though, that commercial truck oil change interval isn’t the average. More commonly, heavy-duty commercial trucks can travel around 25,000 miles on the same interval, while light-duty vehicles can manage about 5,000 miles on a single interval.

Most company fleets adhere to OEM recommendations in regard to oil change intervals. For example, the OEM oil change recommendation for a Kenworth T680 in a line haul application is 40,000 miles. Keeping to this schedule ensures the life of your semi truck to be on par with the manufacturers expectations.

When Should I Get An Oil Change in my Tractor?

To stay on top of things, check your engine every couple of days. You should change your oil if your oil stick comes out with degraded oil on it or if your vehicle’s sensors alert you that an oil change is due. When you follow proper pre-trip procedure, you’ll be checking your oil before the start of every trip. If there is sludge forming in the engine, your oil’s base number may be low enough for corrosion to occur in your vehicle. If you see sludge, change your oil immediately. While the decision is up to you, sticking with the OEM’s oil change interval will give you a good baseline.

How Much is an Oil Change for Semi-Trucks?

When it comes to the cost of an oil change for your truck, the prices will typically vary. This depends on a few factors such as the type of engine, type of oil, and level of service you choose. Typically, most fleets opt for a semi-synthetic oil over conventional due to the increased performance the oil provides. In turn, that raises the price a little.

We gathered data from several popular service locations such as TA, Petro, Loves, Sapp Brothers, and some smaller mom and pop locations. These prices are based on trucks running a Cummins ISX engine. For those of you that have Maxxpower, CAT, and Detroit engines, you may see a slight variation in price due to oil and fuel filter cost. Lastly, these are averages and not exact prices, please see your service location for an exact price.

Why Use Premium Engine Oil?

Oil performance relies on two main factors, the quality, and age of the oil and the grade of the oil in use. If you fill your vehicle with oil that doesn’t match the necessary grade needed for your vehicle, your oil efficiency rate will be much lower than you’d expect. Premium engine oil can enhance the fuel economy on your truck, thereby increasing the mileage you can travel before the end of your commercial truck oil change interval.

When deciding whether you should use premium grade oil, consider whether you care about enhancing your vehicle’s engine purity, ignition ability, and performance. While it may seem like an obvious decision, there are some reasons to use lower quality oil. For example, a vehicle that isn’t operated frequently may not need high-quality oil, as the use cases are so limited. The decision is up to you; you can choose an inexpensive product that offers shorter maintenance intervals or a higher-end oil that lasts longer and has less negative impacts on your vehicle.

Maximizing Oil Change Intervals

Several factors come into play when determining your commercial vehicle oil change intervals. Even two identical trucks may not have the same oil change interval, so it helps to be aware of what you can do to keep your intervals as long as possible. For example, imagine two trucks; one can travel 35,000 miles on the same oil change interval while the other can only manage 15,000 miles. Though both trucks are the same make and model, their oil change intervals can differ depending on the following points:

Driving patterns

If a commercial truck driver is prone to handling his vehicle roughly, their bad driving habits may decrease fuel efficiency and reduce their oil change interval. For instance, driving through steep inclines and dusty roads can significantly decrease efficiency in your vehicle.

Oil properties

The type of oil you use can also impact the oil change interval of your commercial vehicle. This is because low-quality oil won’t last nearly as long as a high-quality alternative. Worse yet, low-quality oil can more quickly cause damage to your vehicle’s engine if you don’t change it soon enough.

Engine condition

Keeping your commercial vehicle running for too long can cause strain on your engine over time. This additional stress can eventually reduce oil efficiency, inevitably lowering your truck’s average oil change interval mileage.

Improving Oil Efficiency

The longevity of a commercial truck oil change relates directly to your vehicle’s overall fuel efficiency. The more efficient your vehicle’s combustion process, the less risk there is of dirt, soot, mist, or gases corrupting your oil. To keep your oil as pure as possible, keep your engine well maintained while ensuring that it’s temperature doesn’t reach excessive levels.

Maintaining Oil Flow Systems

Your oil filters are designed to prevent contaminants from entering your oil. Therefore there must be space in the filters for dirt and any other contaminants. Pay attention to the filtration system and seals in your engine to ensure that they are working correctly throughout the course of each oil change interval. If your filtration system fails even slightly, there will be a negative impact on your engine’s oil efficiency.

How Do Dirty Environments Affect Semi-Truck Oil Change Intervals?

Your vehicle may vacuum up dirt and other contaminants as you drive over dusty or otherwise dirty roads. Airborne pollutants, like smoke, can also be filtered into your engine, gradually causing damage. Humidity can increase the chances of airborne contaminants reaching your engine because dirt is more easily circulated through the air in humid conditions.

Weather’s Impact On Commercial Vehicle Oil Change Intervals

Where you drive can affect your commercial vehicle’s oil efficiency, as intense temperatures can impact your oil’s quality and cause damage to your engine. The damage comes from issues that arise with inadequate lubrication in the engine.

For example, driving hundreds of miles across a hot, arid region will reduce the density of your oil. When the oil is less thick, it’s functionality as a lubricant is reduced. Furthermore, highly heated oil can cause damaging chemical reactions, like oxidization, which will certainly shorten your current oil change interval.

Cold weather can also negatively affect your vehicle’s overall efficiency, as freezing temperatures will cause your oil to become far thicker. The oil’s high viscosity prevents the engine’s parts from moving freely, potentially causing wear on your vehicle.

The Value of Oil Analysis

Oil analysis tools are becoming ever more commonplace in full-service maintenance facilities. The reason for this is that oil analysis can be used to identify symptoms of more significant issues in your commercial vehicles. Many commercial fleets use oil analysis to collect data that can be used to save money in maintenance and operations costs. Some examples of problems that can be diagnosed through oil analysis include the following:

  • Coolant contamination
  • Wear metal contamination
  • Oil properties out of spec
  • Dirt contamination

Catching these issues early through oil analysis ensures that they won’t progress and cause more troublesome problems.

Find Commercial Truck Oil Changes

Truck owners need to think about how they can improve their oil change intervals. Doing so can save them money and allow them to maintain their vehicle’s functionality as it ages. For more information about where you can find commercial vehicle maintenance services in your area, be sure to use our simple roadside assistance directory.

What is your go to PM Service interval for your truck?

Steven White

Steven White is a professional writer who helps businesses improve their online visibility by creating engaging and informative content. He specializes in content written for SaaS companies and service-based businesses. You can also find him on YouTube at Schteve.

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