Some suggest that there is a direct correlation between the cost of lubricants and overall truck maintenance costs. WILLIAM GEORGE explores the topic to see how fleet owners can save money and extend the life of vehicles through purchasing quality lubes and oil.
Although it may be tempting to purchase cheaper oils and lubricants, it is essential for fleet managers to invest in good, high-quality oils in order to extend the lifecycle of vehicles, while reducing the cost of fleet maintenance.
Patrick Bergman, heavy-duty business development manager at Motul Africa, advises that when operating in the truck, mining, power generation, construction or earth-moving industries, managers should keep an eye on the total cost of ownership of their assets.
Bergman says that while lubricants and oils only amount to some 1,5 to two percent of the overall cost of running a fleet, the decisions made when purchasing lubricants could have a direct impact on up to 90 percent of maintenance costs.
He explains that maintenance typically represents 20 percent of the total fleet cost, while 80 percent is made up of expenses, such as fuel, insurance, salaries and the cost of finance. When aiming to reduce costs, the maintenance costs need to be thoroughly inspected.
High-quality oils result in low costs for a fleet
Andreas Hadjidimitriadis, field marketing adviser at ExxonMobil South Africa, says: “Using advanced or high-quality lubricants can help reduce fuel costs.”
He explains: “Fleet owners face difficult challenges, which include variable fuel prices and running a cost-effective fleet versus maintaining older and newer trucks. Using the right quality oil for a vehicle will improve fuel economy potential and extend vehicle and component life.”
He continues: “Investing in high-performance oils can also extend the life of gearboxes, rear axles and transmissions – all of which are costly to replace or repair should they fail.”
Hadjidimitriadis maintains that it is important to refer to the recommendations of the original equipment manufacturers.
“If engines are the heart of your truck, lubricants are most certainly the lifeblood. They provide protection for the most important parts of your vehicle, and, in the case of the engine, the most costly part when it comes to downtime.
“When selecting lubricants, it’s important not just to see them as a short-term cost, but a long-term, strategic investment that can have positive benefits throughout the lifecycle of a truck,” he says.
Bad oils result in failure and breakdowns
“Lower-quality lubricants are often inadequate, especially when machines are running at high-stress levels in challenging conditions,” says Bergman.
He points out: “Equipment failure and downtime can derail project timeframes and budgets. In addition, frequent breakdowns increase maintenance and associated costs, such as parts and replacement of equipment.”
Long-term impact of using low-quality oils
It has been established that there are adverse effects to using poor-quality oil, and some of the consequences can be permanent.
Rymax Lubricants notes that using low-quality oils can result in costly engine repairs. In addition, oils that do not meet the required specs could ultimately void a vehicle’s engine warranty.
Rymax Lubricants notes: “If major damage occurs from the use of an oil that does not meet the manufacturer’s specifications and its warranty is voided, rebuilding or replacing the engine can be expensive.”
Furthermore, low-quality oils are hazardous to the environment, as they do not meet the industry standards set by governing bodies such as European Automobile Manufacturers Association and the American Petroleum Institute, which are responsible for drawing up regulations on carbon emissions.
Settling for cheaper, low-grade oils can result in failure of some systems. Parts and equipment that need repair or reconditioning could contribute to downtime and negatively affect productivity. Therefore, it is always advisable to consult the original equipment manufacturer for the correct type of oils to use and intervals after which they have to be changed.
“Investing in regular, quality-assured services is important. This will help to avoid unexpected downtime and save money in the long run. It can also provide big benefits in terms of a vehicle’s residual value. Regular servicing will help to ensure a better return when selling a vehicle and will ultimately help to reduce total cost of ownership,” Hadjidimitriadis concludes.