Auto Service World
Feature   November 1, 2006   by Andrew Ross

Long Haul Lubricants

New Trucks. New Engines. New Standards.

It has been called the single most important advance in oil in 30 years, but the latest addition to the lubricant standards market does not stand alone.

Unlike many of the motor oil standards that have percolated through the automotive world, the introduction of CJ-4 standards are not based on improving the breed to gain performance or longevity of the oil, or better fuel mileage; CJ-4 oils have been developed to address the imperative for cleaner, low ash, low additive oils, created by a whole new class of cleaner, low-emissions diesel engine.

It is part of a wholesale change to the on-road heavy-duty market.

This fall, the on-road diesel world took a major step with the introduction of Ultra-Low Sulphur Diesel (ULSD), which sets the stage for full acceptance of 2007-spec emissions engines.

The focus on sulphur content in diesel fuel is the key jumping-off point. In Canada all on-road diesel changed over to ULSD in mid-October, though there is some leeway for remote areas, where usage patterns mean it may take a while to cycle the new fuel through.

That means that not more than 15 parts per million (ppm) of sulphur content can be present, down from as much as 500 ppm under the previous Low Sulphur Diesel limits that were enacted in 1994. So this is a story that started a long time ago.

Laws were passed in 2002 that affect every diesel-powered vehicle. It is a North American change–Europe is at 50 ppm–but why make the change at all?

“These advances greatly reduce NOx emissions and fine particulate emissions,” says Gerry Ertel, manager of regulatory affairs for Shell Canada Products, a major diesel fuel producer. “Plus, we’ve seen NOx absorbers starting in 2007 engines, and sulphur kills this and other new technologies. Together they will deliver NOx reductions of as much as 25% and reduce particulates by 90%. Of course sulphur will drop by 97%,” says Ertel.

“This is important because, while gasoline is the fuel that moves people, diesel is the fuel that moves the economy,” he adds.

It’s not without its tradeoffs. Fuel suppliers such as Shell expect that the ULSD fuel will result in a 1% reduction in fuel economy, but with 1/50 the amount of NOx and 1/100 the amount of particulates, it’s a reasonable trade-off, they say.

And there’s more to the new engines than just the ULSD fuel requirement. So-called “aftertreatment” devices and advanced exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) valves make diesel engines cleaner than ever. They also make them run hotter, which has raised concerns about engine longevity. Plus, those advanced aftertreatment devices, and particulate filters in particular, simply cannot tolerate high concentrations of sulphur or other particulates in the exhaust stream, whether those come directly from the fuel or through combustion of trace amounts of engine lubricant. Enter CJ-4.

“It is critical to the optimum performance of emissions and particulate filters,” says Lenore Indarsingh, category manager, oil products, for Shell. “Because there are these new devices, we can’t put some of the former good stuff”–sulphur, sulphated ash, and phosphorus–“in any more.” Those additives helped prolong engine life and were an important part of the previous CI-4 and CI-4 Plus standards. The CJ-4 had to take a different approach. It is, she says, a fundamental change for the 170-million-litre-a-year heavy-duty motor oil business in Canada.

“Everything works in concert,” says Indarsingh. “The fuel, the lubricant, and the equipment must work together.”

Working together is precisely the issue for many users out there. With fleets that may have a mixture of old and new vehicles, getting the right lubricants in the proper vehicles is an important concern, made slightly trickier by the fact that CJ-4 lubricants are slated to be anywhere from 10% to 25% more expensive than the CI-4 Plus lubricants that are still expected to be on the market for some time.

“From the perspective of someone running a 2007 engine, they really have no choice,” says Mark Pagnanelli, heavy-duty marketing manager with Wakefield Canada, which represents Castrol in Canada. “Based on the new particulate filter and the way particulates have been driven down as far as what can come out the stack, the new CJ-4 lubricant has been engineered specifically for that. You can run into significant problems running CI-4 Plus chemistry in these engines. You can end up with sludge a lot sooner. You can have plugging of the diesel particulate filter. They are expensive pieces and you really don’t want to mess with them.”

But, he says, a motivating factor to take this risk may go beyond the price of the oil itself.

“The real pushback is not really from a price standpoint. From a customer’s standpoint, what percentage of my fleet has to be equipped with 2007 engines in order to make the wholehearted switch? In the meantime do I carry two tanks? It is really that split that has a lot of guys on the fence.”

“We only want to have one product,” says Mark Reed, director of marketing for Pennzoil-Quaker State Canada. “We will transition to one product because it will be cleaner. It is better from a jobber standpoint.” Yes, there is a price difference, he says, and only a minority of trucks on the road require the new lubricant, but the logistical advantages outweigh those considerations.

“It didn’t make sense to keep two products. By this time a year from now, most people will be in one product anyway,” he adds.

In the meantime, he offers, jobbers need to get up to speed with the new standard. Customers may walk in with the idea that they can save money by using CI-4 lubricants instead of the CJ-4-compliant products.

“Your counterpeople need to make sure they know what they’re talking about if you’re still carrying two products. Typically guys with the old trucks don’t need the new stuff, but even if they use the new oil, it should still accrue benefits,” says Reed.

“It’s a bit of a logistical problem,” says Alan Crossley, vice-president and general manager for Noco Lubricants Company, a distributor and packager of lubricants. “We need to accommodate a whole other grade of oil,” he adds. Even though the company didn’t have any CJ-4 product as of the writing of this article, orders were starting to come in for it–significant orders, as fleets were beginning to stock up their shops.

“There is still a lot of confusion over the requirements, and I think there is going to be shock in the market when the pricing comes through.”

Logistics aside, the potential for confusion will be greatest at the outset.

“People who call up to order oil are going to have to know what they want. If they have a fleet with some new and some old, they may move over [to the new CJ-4], but the rebuttal is that they may be paying for a bunch of technology that they don’t need.

“I’m sure that it is a customer education issue, but I’m not sure how much the industry is prepared to spend on it. Our biggest challenge is to educate our own staff so they know what they need to ask the customer.”

He joins others in warning of dire consequences for those who would choose to cut corners and opt for the older standard of oil in a 2007 engine application.

“You will end up having all kind of problems down the road. If a guy has a small fleet of trucks, he could wipe out his whole business if he tries to save a few dollars on oil.

“The typical changes are not as dramatic as the changes made this time. Everything is changing here.” He says he wishes the major oil companies would switch everything over.

The logistics nightmare is primed for errors, he says. “It would be so much easier if we just had the one grade.”

“The major onus falls on the lubricant suppliers to get [jobbers and truck operators] up to speed on the differences,” says Pagnanelli, “not only what the product offering is, but the specific circumstances where you have to use the new oils.

“You definitely don’t want to have anybody mixing or using the wrong fluids. There isn’t anything to be concerned about from a volatility standpoint, but similar to synthetic and conventional motor oils, you can combine [CI-4 and CJ-4], but you will dilute the benefits.

“You don’t want to run the risk, especially for the dollars you have invested in these engines, and the potential effects on the warranty,” he adds.

He observes that jobbers should interview their heavy-duty and industrial customers to determine what their needs are now and moving forward. Many fleets and owner-operators were uncertain about the reliability of the emissions-reducing designs of 2007 specification engines, and were also unwilling to fork out the thousands of extra dollars to take the leap. Many decided to ramp up purchases early, which created a boon for truck suppliers over the past couple of years, a phenomenon that has come to be known in the industry as the “pre-buy.”

“It is specific to the customer base. If customers have taken advantage of a pre-buy scenario, they have obviously pushed off the purchase of 2007 engines. And it varies from region to region. As we get closer and closer to the new year, you have to take inventory of the fleet and what is happening in the near term.” He estimates that it may be a three- or four-year transition, but some customers will be onboard right now.

“When you are talking to some of the larger fleets who take in several trucks at once, it makes the decision a little easier,” says Pagnanelli, “but it is one that fleets are going to have to face quickly.”

Improve Your CJ-4 I.Q.

Sales Call Online

A simulated CJ-4 sales call is available on the Lubrizol company website at

Lubrizol, which produces additive packages for lubricant suppliers, has produced a step-by-step simulation that addresses the most frequently asked questions.

The tutorial sample sales call prompts you to answer questions posed by the customer. Four options are usually given, and they’re often quite similar, so if you don’t know your stuff, you’re likely to end up being prompted with a “you may be headed in the wrong direction” response, which is a polite way of suggesting that you’re misleading the customer.

Nevertheless, it seems a useful exercise to go through probably more than once over time, just to ensure that the sales conversation and facts about the CJ-4 product standard are drummed into your brain.

With the potential for damage to aftertreatment devices from using the wrong lubricant, it is imperative to make the correct recommendations to customers.

CJ-4 versus CI-4 Plus

The key driver in the new CJ-4 standard is the limitation on certain additive components. This was a first for the industry as the previous standard, CI-4 (of which CI-4 Plus was an enhancement), placed no limit on these additives.

There was a “typical” range however. The chart below compares the maximum limits under the CJ-4 standard with these “typical” concentrations.

CJ-4 Limits/ Typical API CI-4 Plus Level

Ash:1.0% max / 1.2-1.6%

Phosphorus:0.12% max/ 0.12-0.15%

Sulphur:0.4% max/ 0.5%

Sulphur and other particulates can be curtailed, and filters protected, with thermal regenerators such as this unit, but there are limits to what they can handle.

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