I had an FL112 truck with a CAT 430 HP engine. The CAT tech said that the oil should be changed every 12k miles. At 3000 miles a week, that would be once every month. Does this sound correct? Second part: I see that T/A and Petro's advertise oil changes for $110.00 +\-. That cheap price kinda scares me a bit. Oil by the quart is $2.50 and my CAT takes 40 quarts. Thats $100.00 just for the oil. I took my truck to a autorized CAT Service Center and their charge was $285.00 for complete oil / lube / filters. Whats wrong with this picture?
How often / How much? (Oil Change Question)
Where I work, we do our services based on hours rather than miles. Our trucks see a lot of PTO time, often 3-4 hours a day, so hours makes more sense for us than miles do. We grease and do a pm at 250 hours, and do an oil change at 500.
If you are using an oil analysis program, you can easily extend your drain intervals. Many trucks run on 25,000 mile intervals, vice the recommended numbers. But, you need to know what's going on inside the engine to do that, taking samples and having them tested by a reputable oil testing lab. As you get confidence in the data and the info on the condition of your oil as tested, then you can extend the oil drain intervals.
And of course, spend the money for good grade filters, sticking to the major filter suppliers for heavy duty engines. Cheap filters are not the way to go in a big truck.
petro and Ta are not paying 2.50 a quart for the oil that they buy in bulk in drums or in bulk storage tanks. That;s one of the ways they can offer an oil change at their prices. If you match up their basic oil change with a good look at things on your own, they can be a good way to get the oil changed at a reasonable price. Cat is charging a Cat shop rate price, for a Cat technician, and Cat's own filters. You get what you pay for, but sometimes going cheaper can be an okay deal. I would change the oil at Petro and do a good looksee over the truck afterwards and be a happy camper. And maybe once a year, I would have Cat do the oil, inspect, and do the DOT on the truck.
It depends on lots of things, if the truck never has oil added , I would try to change at specified intervals, unless you do the oil analysis and feel comfortable extending it. If you are adding oil regularly, you are replenishing the additives every time you add oil, then its not quite so important in my opinion. Where I work, they change the oil at specified 20,000 mile intervals and that seems to work out OK but if it goes way long over that, motors tend to develop leaks. They run mostly Cummins with some Detroits and a couple of Cats. I think it may be harder on the Cats to extend oil change intervals. Our shop tries to do all of the PM services. The TAs offer Freightliner Services, but I don't know enough about them to recommend them.
Cat's oil change intervals vary by fuel consumption and Idle time percentage.
The worse your avg mpg and higher amount of idle time, the earlier rate of deterioration and breakdown of oil requiring shorter oil change intervals:
Severe Duty = Less than 5.5 mpg
Normal Duty =5.5 to 6.5 mpg
Light Duty = 6.5 mpg or greater
Severe Duty =More than 40%
Normal Duty =20% to 40%
Light Duty = Less than 20%
Oil Change interval in Miles based upon the above:
Severe Duty=20,000 miles
Normal Duty=30,000 miles
Light Duty= 40,000 miles
Oil analysis is an excellent tool if you plan to extend PM intervals and can determine not only what is showing up in the oil, but wether the additive package is breaking down (suggesting the oil has reached it's change point).
I have a Gulf Coast Filter on my Dodge Pickup (the Model 0-1)...with UOAs, it is proving to be a very good addition...my only caution is the need to "roll you own" filters...since it uses rolls of paper towels, the replacement filters are cheap at under $2/each. I found the Gulf Coast elements (at $15/each) to fit the housing too loose, allowing unfiltered oil to bypass the element.
I have one UOA on CJ-4 Rotella with just under 10k with a Amsoil bypass, and one UOA on CJ-4 Rotella with the Gulf Coast, both look good. Which brings up yet another point...the oils have changed!!!!!! With my setup, I should be able to run 25k without issues (or further)...
If you are up on oils, you would have noticed the new oils are API CJ-4...the older oils were API CI-4 or CI-4+. These newer CJ-4 oils, while designed for the newer "emissions" engines to protect the particulate filter, are not as robust as the previous oils...you simply cannot extend the oil changes as long with really running a couple UOAs to see what is going on!!!! The main thing you'd notice in a virgin oil analysis is that the TBN is not nearly as strong as the older oils!
One oil of interest is the newer "triple protection" Rotella CJ-4. It is refined so well, thae it is actually approaching a low grade synthetic. My UOAs are very promising for this oil...
Just something to be aware of...