Over the past few years, we have presented a number of articles on extending oil drain intervals. You can access those articles by clicking on the following link and scrolling through the archived articles: http://castrolhdfocus.com/category/engineering-solutions/
Extending drain intervals is one of the most basic ways of reducing costs, and when done safely and as part of a comprehensive maintenance program, there should be no additional risk of damage to components or shortened equipment life. In fact, the steps required to improve your overall maintenance program, which are necessary when initiating an extended oil drain program, will often result in an increase in equipment life.
But there is an important consideration that is often missed when initiating an oil drain extension program… perhaps not every machine in your fleet is a good candidate for extended oil drains. There are several reasons why a particular unit may not be a good candidate for inclusion, but the most common is because of poor equipment condition.
In just about every fleet there are at least a few units that have issues… they are often called “problem children.” These are the exceptions that consistently have problems. Their issues may include elevated soot levels, fuel dilution or coolant contamination issues, significant blow-by due to wear, or oil leaks or oil consumption issues.
Because of heavy workloads or lack of qualified help, some units don’t get taken down for repairs when needed, so they continue to run with known issues for extended periods. For units such as these, it is probably not a wise move to extend the oil drain intervals. In fact, it may be prudent to shorten the drain interval on certain units, depending on the nature of the problem. Ultimately the goal should be to make the necessary repairs to the problem units to get them operating normally and then, at that time, move them to an extended oil drain program.
Implementing an effective used oil analysis program is critical to this process, as the results will keep you informed as to the health of units in your fleet. You can also consult with your Castrol Field Engineer for advice on those units that may be suitable to be added in to an extended oil drain program… once repairs are completed and oil analysis data is available for review.
There is another reason you may want to leave a unit out of an oil drain extension program… one that has nothing to do with poor equipment health or old age. In this case, we are considering new units that are still under warranty. A potential concern is that extending the drain interval may void the warranty protection on the unit. So, let’s consider the implications.
First of all, extending an oil drain interval beyond a manufacturer’s recommendation may not automatically void a warranty; it’s a little more complicated than that. Don’t just make assumptions about it; consult the actual warranty statement to see what it says about the topic. Depending on how it is worded, you may be surprised to learn that the statement doesn’t directly prohibit extended oil drains. Some warranty statements merely state that failures that occur as a result of extending drains beyond manufacturer’s recommendations are the responsibility of the owner.
Importantly, the whole point of safely extending drain intervals is to not cause any failures. But, if a failure due to some other circumstances does occur, or rather, it does not occur as a result of extending drain intervals, then that failure should still be covered under warranty. Once again, you should consult the OEM warranty statement for clarification. We also recommend that you consult with the OEM to get its input on your plans. At the end of this process, it may be prudent to not add certain units that are under warranty to the extended drain program for the duration of the warranty period. These units can be added to the program after the expiration of the warranty period, as long as the used oil analysis data supports it.
Again, do not hesitate to contact a Castrol Field Engineer for assistance. Our team of experts is always available to offer guidance on developing a proper extended drain program that safely allows you to improve your operational efficiency.