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Drain Intervals, Oil Capacity are Supersized on Big Rigs

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July 26, 2019—NOLN headed to Albert Lea, Minn. this week for the 37th-annual SuperRigs event. The truck showcase and competition is put on by Shell Rotella.

NOLN talked diesel engine oil specs with Dan Arcy, Shell’s global OEM technical manager who was chairman of the team that helped develop the latest API service categories.

Look for an article in the coming days on the latest service categories and what three grades shops should carry to change diesel cars and trucks.

But first, here are some stats from Arcy that remind us that big rigs really stand apart in their engineering.


Heavy Duty

As many know, long-haul trucks put miles and miles on their vehicles. It’s not uncommon to see trucks with millions of miles on them, and most put at least 100,000 miles on the odometer each year.

So what are the drain intervals for those rigs? Arcy said that the oil is changed on many trucks at 50,000 miles, but it’s increasing. Intervals reaching 75,000 miles and beyond are becoming more common.

The formulations that allow engine oils to perform better at lower viscosities also means they last longer, Arcy said.

“It also gave the engine manufacturers the opportunity to further optimize their drain intervals, or increase their drain intervals,” he said.

That also means a lot of testing for oil manufacturers. Arcy said that Shell Rotella collected some 50 million highway miles to test on engines at a variety of mileages.

So maybe the drain intervals are longer. Big rigs also use an incredible amount of oil per change (and large oil filters to boot).

“You also got to look at the amount of oil these things hold,” Arcy said. “They hold anywhere from 10 to 12 gallons, where as your normal car is gonna hold about 5 quarts. So they have significantly more oil.”

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