Survival in the competitive trucking industry takes a resolute spirit and the willingness to try new things. Barry Lesmeister, owner of Lesmeister Transportation in Bismarck, ND – a company that hauls products for the beverage and general commodities industries across the northern United States, has both. He says his competitive drive motivates him to keep abreast of new products and services that he might incorporate into his operation to be more profitable.
One area of focus has been on heavy duty specialized lubricants for commercial vehicles, with an eye toward motor oils and greases that can help maximize the life of his equipment - 25 tractors and 40 trailers - that have to endure the long, brutal winters in North Dakota. Lesmeister began looking into using synthetic lubricants because of the performance advantages they offer compared to conventional mineral-based lubes, including enhanced protection under all operating conditions.
Years ago, the company began using Mobil Delvac 1300 Super 15W-40 conventional oils in its trucks. This extra-high performance, diesel engine oil was designed to help extend engine life, provide enhanced wear protection and oxidation resistance, even under severe conditions. “We had good results,” says Lesmeister.
Afterward, the fleet then switched to Mobil-branded synthetic products for the differentials, gearboxes and transmissions in order to get added protection for the trucks. In some instances, synthetic greases are superior to conventional petroleum-based oils in their ability to resist breakdown from mechanical and thermal conditions.
The synthetic benefits Lesmeister Transportation saw under the hood encouraged the company to begin using Mobilith SHC 007 synthetic grease in the non-driven wheel ends of the company trailers. The grease is a high-performance product scientifically engineered to exceed the demanding requirements for severe applications at extreme temperatures. Before the switch, Lesmeister technicians were changing the grease at every brake job. Now, with Mobilith SHC 007, they change the grease every fourth brake job, saving the company close to $4,000 per year in parts and labor costs.
“We were amazed at how well the synthetics performed, and right away we knew the next obvious step was to start running synthetic in the engine compartments across the fleet,” he says.
Soon, Lesmeister was meeting with his longtime Mobil distributor, Farstad Oil, to discuss the benefits of switching the fleet to synthetic engine oil.
“Many of our customers have a lot of success with the synthetics up here in North Dakota, so for us and Barry, this was a no-brainer,” says Kirby Mueller, lube oil general manager at Farstad Oil, a family-operated wholesale petroleum products distributor based in Minot, ND. “We worked closely with Barry and his team to review the performance and economic benefits he would see from upgrading the entire fleet to running synthetics in the engine compartments.”
In their discussions it was noted that synthetic lubricants resist degradation at high temperatures better than conventional oils, leading to longer oil life and reduced deposits, sludge and varnish formation. At low temperatures, synthetic lubricants flow better than conventional oils, allowing them to reach components faster in order to provide quicker and better protection against wear.
It was also noted that synthetic lubricants are more efficient than conventional oils, leading to lower friction during operation. This lower friction can be seen in improved fuel economy and lower operating temperatures, particularly in axle and transmission applications. In addition, many equipment builders endorse extended oil drain intervals when properly approved synthetic oils are used.
After making sure an ATF meets the specific requirements instructed for a vehicle, another question that might be asked is whether to use synthetic ATF or petroleum ATF.
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