Of every 'big, bad wolf' of 2007, the new low ash heavy duty engine oil formula, CJ-4, has gotten the least attention: with all of the emphasis on engine changes and ULSD, many fleet maintenance managers have been willfully ignoring this potential budget threat, lurking in the woods. But the major lubricant companies are saying it's because there is nothing to fear. Are they right?
There are a lot of fleets that are so unconcerned about CJ-4 that they have already moved all of their vehicles onto one product—operating pre-2007 engines on CJ-4 oil, even though it is not required.
According to Mark Betner, heavy duty lubricant manager for Citgo, there are manifold reasons for this broad-stroke implementation. One is purely pragmatic—cutting the potential for confusing your techs and the possible resulting errors that could mean big problems for your 2007 engines. This ties into another reason, according to Betner, which is economic.
Despite the fact that CJ-4 comes with a price premium of five to ten percent over previous CI-4 Plus standards, it might be more practical for your efforts to carry the new standard over both.
"Here's the economic equation," Betner says. " Let's say you've got a hundred power units, and you're going to be buying 6,000 gallons a year to fulfill your service requirements. Remember, there could be as high as a ten percent price increase. Let's just say that amounts to 50 cents a gallon. Here's the bottom line: you're buying 6,000 gallons of engine oil a year, at 50 cents more a gallon. You've got $3,000 to chew over."
Adds Betner: " You've got to decide, 'Is that $3,000 worth me having to mess with two products—having my service technicians go over to drums, possibly, and pull oil just for those ten trucks? Just to save $3,000, am I going to play with drums, or am I going to be buying a new bulk tank for that?' I think simplicity is good, and I think we're going to see people—who are going to be paying up to $10,000 more for one truck—say 'am I going to jump through a bunch of hoops just to save $3,000?'"
DEAL OR NO DEAL
Some lubricant companies, like Shell, are moving their entire related product line to 2007 compliancy. Others, ConocoPhillips included, have decided to maintain two products, citing the likelihood that many fleets will not operate any 2007-spec' engines in the coming year.
According to Reginald Dias, director, commercial products, ConocoPhillips, Conoco brand, " The CJ-4 products are actually backwards compatible; they can be used in place of CI-4 Plus (in pre-'07 engines). But the demand for the CJ-4 is not going to be as high. Given that, Conoco Phillips has made a decision to continue supplying CI-4 Plus lubricants, in addition to the three products we've produced for the CJ-4 emissions standards."
Fortunately for fleets, the fact that it is easier to carry one product than two is not the only reason to switch pre-2007 trucks to the new oil. Petro Canada Lubricants' category manager, commercial transportation lubricants, Colleen Flanagan, explains the way CJ-4 was a good fit for her company, as well as for their customers: " The new CJ-4 line fits pretty well with our base stock, most of which are hydrotreated base stock. We started at a 99.9 percent level, and the benefit of that is that we have lower levels of sulfur and sulfated ash, versus most of our competitor's base stocks."
Dan Arcy, technical marketing manager, Shell Lubricants, is also confident in the added value of Shell's new CJ-4-compliant heavy duty engine oil, Rotella T Triple Protection.
"It meets the API CJ-4, but we also enhanced it in a number of areas that, after talking to our customers, we found were extremely important to them," Arcy says. " One of the questions I get a lot is, is the CJ-4 product going to be as good as CI-4 Plus? And the answer to that is, yes, absolutely. In fact, it's not only going to be as good, it's substantially better than API CI-4 Plus. Some of the areas of improvement are in the area of improved wear protection, improved deposit control and improved soot handling."