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PC-11 oil: Benefits will cover extra costs, panelists say

PC-11 Oil Panel at Mid-America Trucking Show 2016

PC-11 panelists, from left, editors David Cullen and Jason Cannon, Chevron’s Shawn Whitacre and Len Badal, and Ozark Motor Lines’ Glen McDonald.

The performance benefits of the next heavy-duty oil category, PC-11, will more than make up for its higher costs, said a Chevron executive during a PC-11 panel discussion today.

Chevron hosted the panel at the Mid-America Trucking show in Louisville, Ky.

Panelists explained that products meeting the PC-11 criteria will be marketed in two formulations. CK-4 will be a replacement for CJ-4, backwards compatible for any engines using CJ-4. FA-4 will have slightly higher performance specs and be recommended for newer model year engines.

Both formulations will offer reduced emissions among other benefits, panelists said.

Any truck owner converting to a PC-11 oil should understand which product best fits his operation, continue to use oil analysis, keep idling low and monitor fuel mileage, said Len Badal, Chevron global commercial brand manager. “If you have those under control, you would see a total cost benefit” that would cover the higher costs, he said. Badal and others did not speculate on how much more Chevron or its competitors would charge for the new oils.

The effective date for the transition is Dec. 1, but panelists said the process for introducing the products could delay for months their appearance on store shelves.

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Truck owners face no drastic conversion process with the introduction, whatever their choice is, panelists said. Many of the concerns from customers have centered around having a fleet of older vehicles, using CK-4, and new trucks possibly factory-filled with FA-4.

For example, would it be a problem to use FA-4 to top off an older engine? “That’s likely not going to be a significant issue,” said Shawn Whitacre, Chevron senior staff engineer.

A fleet with new and old trucks could use CK-4 exclusively if it’s too concerned about having two oils for use in the same shop.

Almost half of the respondents in a Commercial Carrier Journal survey expressed at least slight concern over PC-11, said Jason Cannon, equipment editor for CCJ and Overdrive magazines. “A lot of what was cited was concerns about higher operating temperature, which version of PC-11 was needed,” and how to manage an oil program for a mix of older and new trucks.

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Panelist David Cullen, executive editor of Heavy-Duty Trucking, was asked if the new oil formulations would work for off-road applications. “The CK-4 spec offers the same protection … to off-road diesel as it does on-highway truck diesel,” he said.

The transition from CJ-4 to CK-4 should be easy, said Glen McDonald, of Ozark Motor Lines in Memphis, Tenn. “The truck complexity is our biggest challenge,” he said. “We’ve got to find a way to attract a new generation to repair these trucks.”

Once the new oils are in use, Badal says, and engine makers are more comfortable with their performance, “they may start to encourage FA-4 use.”

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Max Heine is editorial director of Overdrive and writes regularly for the Overdrive Extra blog. A CDL holder, he joined Overdrive in 1998 after more than two decades of newspaper work. You can reach him at
mheine@randallreilly.com or 205-248-1038.

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