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Tag: fleet repair Albuquerque

Fleet Oil Changes: 5 Signs It’s Time

Fleet oil changes are a critical maintenance item to keep your company vehicles on the road and out of the repair shop. You depend on your fleet to deliver goods, transport passengers, and execute other tasks throughout the workday.

It’s easy to get busy and forget about routine upkeep. When that happens, your fleet vehicles send you signs for attention before it’s too late, and you end up with expensive engine repairs.

In this blog, we cover some of the reasons why you should get fleet oil changes regularly, plus the five warning signs you should never ignore.

Why is it important to get fleet oil changes regularly?

Taking care of your fleet vehicles is part of being a responsible business owner. After all, if you depend on your convoy to deliver products or services as part of your job, you can’t afford the downtime that comes with a broken-down vehicle.

Some of the reasons why you should get regular fleet oil changes include:

  • Engine cooling and lubrication. Engine oil plays a vital role in lubricating the various moving parts of the engine. Without lubrication, the parts rub together, causing friction, heat, and wear. Engine oil also helps with heat dissipation during combustion.
  • Contaminant removal. Regular oil changes remove impurities such as dirt, dust, and metal particles that clog the engine.
  • Extended engine life. Clean and well-lubricated engines experience less wear and tear. You can significantly extend the life of your fleet’s engines with regular oil changes.
  • Improved fuel efficiency. Gas prices keep climbing, making fuel efficiency a priority for most businesses that rely on delivery as part of their services. A well-maintained engine runs more efficiently, consuming less fuel.

How often do you need fleet oil changes?

Your owner’s manual for each vehicle provides guidance on recommended intervals and should be your first resource for determining a schedule.

However, the frequency of fleet oil changes depends on several factors, including the type of vehicles in your fleet, their make and model, the type of oil used, and the operating conditions.

There are some general guidelines and industry standards to consider. They include:

  • Mileage-based intervals. Many fleet managers use this method to determine how often to change the oil and filter. Mileage ranges between 3,000 and 5,000 miles.
  • Time-based intervals. In some cases, especially for vehicles used infrequently, time-based intervals work best. Your fleet mechanic may recommend changing every six months or once annually.
  • Severe operating conditions. Frequent stop-and-go driving, towing heavy loads, or operating in extreme temperatures may shorten the lifespan of your engine’s oil.
One of the signs it's time for fleet oil changes is if the color of the engine oil no longer looks amber or light brown, like the oil in the photo.

What are 5 signs it’s time for a fleet oil change?

Recognizing it’s time for a fleet oil change can help you prevent breakdowns and more costly engine repairs down the road.

Even if you regularly maintain your fleet, it never hurts to watch out for these five common signs that you might be due for a change (or at least a visit to your fleet mechanic).

  1. Low Oil Light
    Like most modern vehicles, fleets come with indicator lights that signal to the operator that something isn’t quite right with the oil pressure. When this dashboard warning light comes on, it’s a cry for help that the engine isn’t receiving sufficient oil to operate properly. Check your oil and top it off if it’s low.

  2. Dirty or Dark Oil
    Engine oil should typically have an amber or light brown color when it’s clean. If you check the dipstick and notice the oil is looking dark and dirty, it’s a sign that the oil has become contaminated with debris and is less effective at lubricating the engine.

  3. Engine Noise
    A noticeable increase in engine noise – often described as knocking or tapping sounds – can be a sign that the engine isn’t properly lubricated. Old or degraded oil may not provide adequate lubrication, leading to increased friction and noise.

  4. Decreased Fuel Efficiency
    Dirty or old engine oil can lead to inefficient engine lubrication. When that happens, you’ll almost always notice a significant drop in fuel efficiency. Inefficient lubrication leads to increased friction, causing the engine to work hard and consume more fuel.

  5. Check Engine Light
    Ah, the old check engine light. It can mean many things. One of them is that your engine oil needs changing. Modern fleet vehicles come with sensors that detect issues with the engine, including low oil pressure and other oil-related problems. If the light comes on, it’s essential to have your fleet mechanic check it right away.

Stay vigilant for fleet oil change signs

Staying vigilant about fleet oil changes is one of the most effective ways to prevent expensive repairs that leave you without one of your vehicles. Every mile you’re without your trusted fleet is money lost.

Learning to recognize the five most common signs when it’s time for a visit to your fleet mechanic for an oil change can save you time and money down the road.

Top 10 Misconceptions: Fleet Vehicle Oil Changes

Oil changes are one of those maintenance items that ensure the longevity and optimal performance of your fleet vehicles. Seemingly simple, fresh oil and filters are the lifeblood of any vehicle, especially those that rack up miles when used daily by businesses.

Going too long between oil changes can lead to more expensive issues like warped cylinder heads, cracked engine blocks, and even total engine replacement.

Working with a trusted fleet mechanic for oil changes can help you establish an optimal maintenance schedule for your fleet vehicles.

In the meantime, let’s break down 10 of the most common misconceptions about fleet vehicle oil changes to get you started.

1 – More Frequent Oil Changes are Always Better

While regular oil changes are essential, changing oil too frequently might not provide significant benefits. It’s also a waste of money and resources to change your fleet’s oil and filters before it’s truly needed.

You should follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for your fleet vehicles. Also consider factors such as vehicle usage, oil type, and operating conditions before deciding on oil change intervals.

Synthetic oil pours from a container.

2 – Synthetic Oil Lasts Forever

Synthetic oil has a longer lifespan than conventional oil. However, that doesn’t mean it’s immortal. It can still break down over time and with heavier use, compromising the health of your fleet vehicle’s engine and coolant system.

Regular oil changes are necessary, even with synthetic oils, to ensure proper engine protection and performance. Your fleet mechanic can recommend the best intervals for service.

3 – Any Oil Works in Fleet Vehicles

Not all engine oils are created equally. Using the wrong type of oil or viscosity of oil can lead to engine damage that requires expensive repairs.

Incorrect oil type or grade also decreases the performance of your vehicles and reduces their fuel efficiency. Always use oil that meets the manufacturer’s specifications.

Engine oils when fresh look amber in color like this oil droplet.

4 – Oil Color Determines the Condition

This is a misconception based on partial fact. Yes, the color of your oil can indicate there’s a problem. However, it’s not a reliable way to determine if your engine is healthy or whether the oil is nearing the end of its lifespan and needs changing.

Fresh oil is amber in color. However, it darkens quickly as it collects contaminants. Conducting an oil analysis is a more effective way to determine the oil’s condition.

5 – Changing the Oil Filter is Enough

Oil changes can eat into your vehicle maintenance budget, especially if you have a large fleet to maintain. It might seem tempting to replace only the filter instead of the oil and the filter, but we never advise this shortcut.

Changing the oil filter is important, but a fresh filter can’t protect your fleet’s engines from degraded oil. Over time, even the highest quality synthetic oil breaks down, losing its ability to protect the engine. To avoid more expensive repairs in the future, never skip changing the oil when you change the filter.

6 – Higher Viscosity Oil is Better for Heavy-Duty Vehicles

This is another one of those misconceptions that might seem like a good idea. If you have a fleet of heavy-duty vehicles, you might buy into the notion that the higher the viscosity, the greater the protection.

Higher viscosity oil can hinder the flow and lubrication in colder temperatures. Always follow the manufacturer’s recommendations (or those of your fleet mechanic) before choosing an oil viscosity.

Engine oils additives in three different size containers

7 – Oil Additives Can Replace Regular Oil Changes

Just like a fresh filter can’t substitute for replacing the oil, using oil additives isn’t a viable alternative for regular oil changes, either.

While oil additives can provide certain benefits, they shouldn’t be treated as a replacement for fresh oil. Additives can’t prevent the breakdown of oil from heat and contamination.

8 – New Vehicles Don’t Need Immediate Oil Changes

Buying a brand-new fleet vehicle might come with the mistaken belief that you don’t need to change the oil until you hit a magic mileage number. However, this misconception is dangerous because it can lead to engine damage.

Newer engines can produce metal shavings during the initial break-in period, making an early oil change important for maintaining engine health. Ask your trusted fleet mechanic when you should schedule your first oil change for a new vehicle.

9 – You Can Extend Oil Change Intervals with Premium Oil

Premium oils offer enhanced performance, including increased gas mileage. However, the benefits don’t extend to longer periods between oil changes.

Operating conditions play a critical role in oil change intervals, even with premium oil flowing through your fleet’s engines. Challenging conditions such as frequent stop-and-go driving, towing heavy loads, or driving in extreme temperatures cause increased wear and tear and contamination of engine oil.

Always consult your manufacturer’s guidelines on oil changes and check with your fleet mechanic to determine the best schedule for fresh oil.

A fleet mechanic inspects a vehicle to determine if it needs engine oil replacement.

10 – Oil Changes are Just a Way to Sell More Services

Yes, service centers make money on oil changes. However, they’re a crucial component of maintaining engine health for your fleet.

The cost of regular oil changes pales in comparison to more expensive repairs or replacements you may need if you try to skip this essential maintenance item to save money in the short term.

Regular Oil Changes Maximize Fleet Vehicle Performance

Imagine if you went through life without paying any attention to your health. You’d feel sluggish and would probably develop serious health problems. Fleet vehicles are no different. Without regular oil changes, their life expectancy is limited.

Following the manufacturer’s recommended maintenance schedule for your fleet vehicles enhances their performance, longevity, and overall efficiency.

Regular oil changes are part of routine upkeep. Failing to keep your fleet’s engines properly lubricated now can lead to more expensive repairs later.

In this blog, we answer some of the most common questions about regular oil changes for fleet vehicles, including:

Why are regular oil changes essential for fleet vehicle performance?

You need a fleet of vehicles that perform reliably and consistently. Regular oil changes ensure the engine operates at peak performance, delivering adequate power. Vehicles with well-maintained engines exhibit smoother acceleration and responsiveness and have a longer lifespan.

Some of the other reasons why sticking to an oil change schedule is important include:

  • Engine lubrication and cooling. Engine oil serves as a lubricant, reducing the friction between moving engine parts. Proper lubrication prevents excessive wear and tear, allowing engine components to work smoothly and efficiently. Additionally, oil helps dissipate heat to maintain optimal engine temperature to prevent overheating.
  • Minimized wear and tear. Some fleet vehicles cover significant distances, putting extra stress on their engines. Clean and fresh oil provides a protective barrier between engine parts, reducing friction, and minimizing wear.
  • Optimal fuel efficiency. Clean engine oil improves engine efficiency, which contributes to better fuel combustion. The improved fuel economy, coupled with reduced fuel consumption, leads to substantial savings for fleet operators over time.
  • Prevention of contaminant buildup. Over time, engine oil accumulates contaminants such as dirt, debris, and metal particles. These impurities hinder engine performance and can cause damage. Regular oil changes drain out the old, contaminated oil and replace it with clean oil to prevent the buildup of harmful substances.
  • Compliance with warranty requirements. If your fleet vehicles are new and have a manufacturer’s warranty, failing to follow the recommended schedule for oil changes can void the coverage.
A driver sits behind the wheel of a fleet vehicle.

What’s the connection between regular oil changes and engine lifespan?

The connection between regular oil changes and the engine lifespan of a fleet vehicle is rooted in the critical role that engine oil plays in maintaining engine health and overall vehicle longevity.

One of the biggest benefits of regular oil changes that directly impact how long your fleets’ engines last is the removal of contaminants from the oil. Regular oil changes rid your engine of any debris, dirt, or metal particles and replace them with fresh, clean oil.

Other ways changing your oil helps extend engine life include:

  • Prevention of engine damage. As oil circulates through the engine, it collects contaminants. Over time, those impurities form sludge in your engine, which clogs oil passages and restricts lubrication. Clean oil prevents the buildup of sludge, reducing the risk of engine damage caused by poor lubrication.
  • Dissipation of heat. Engine oil works with your fleet vehicle’s cooling system to carry heat away from critical engine components. Overheating causes stress on engine parts and leads to premature wear. Regular oil changes help maintain the oil’s cooling properties.
  • Protection from corrosion. Engine oil contains additives that prevent corrosion and oxidation of engine parts. Over time, these additives break down, leaving engine components vulnerable to corrosion. Regular oil changes ensure that these additives are replenished, preventing corrosion-related damage, and extending the life of engine parts.
  • Preservation of resale value. Fleet vehicles with documentation of consistent maintenance records fetch a higher resale value.

How do oil changes prevent breakdowns and costly repairs?

Think of engine oil as the lifeblood of your fleet vehicle. It lubricates and cools engine components and provides energy for efficient operation. Without it, your fleet vehicles wouldn’t perform to standards.

One of the most costly mistakes fleet owners make is to think they can push back the time between oil changes to save money.  Failing to follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for oil changes can end up costing you more money in the form of expensive repairs.

Effective engine lubrication reduces friction and prevents metal-to-metal contact. It stops excessive wear on bearings, camshafts, and pistons, which keeps your fleet’s engines humming along smoothly.

Regular oil changes offer the opportunity for the early detection of other issues. Mechanics inspect the engine for signs of damage, leaks, or other abnormalities while changing the oil. Catching problems early allows for timely repairs and reduces the likelihood of a breakdown.

Fleet vehicle oil changes require the right type of oil. A mechanic pours engine oil into a fleet vehicle during an oil change.

How do you know what type of oil to use?

Like passenger vehicles, fleets have specific guidelines for what type of oil works best for maintaining engine health. The first and most reliable resource for determining what type of oil to use is your owner’s manual.

Fleet vehicle owner’s manuals typically specify the recommended oil viscosity, type (conventional or synthetic), and any other manufacturer-approved oil standards.

Some of the other factors that affect what type of oil to use include:

  • Age and mileage. Newer fleet vehicles might require synthetic oils because of their improved durability and performance. Older vehicles might still benefit from conventional oils. However, synthetic blends provide enhanced protection.
  • Operating conditions. If your fleet vehicles operate in extreme conditions such as high temperatures or pulling heavy loads, you may need oils with higher viscosity or specific additives to handle the stress. Stop-and-go or frequently idling vehicles might benefit from oils designed for that kind of driving.
  • Fuel filter type. Some filter types are designed to work optimally with specific types of oil. When changing the oil, make sure the filter and oil are compatible. You can find this information in the owner’s manual, or by consulting a fleet mechanic.

When in doubt, ask a trusted fleet mechanic which type of oil works best for protecting and extending your fleet vehicle’s engine life.

What are some common misconceptions about fleet oil changes?

There are several misconceptions about fleet vehicle oil changes that can lead to incorrect maintenance practices. Addressing these misunderstandings is crucial for maintaining the health and performance of your fleet.

Some of the most common false impressions include:

  • Frequent oil changes are always better. While regular oil changes are essential, changing oil too frequently might not provide significant benefits. Follow the manufacturer’s recommendations and consider factors like vehicle usage, oil type, and operating conditions before deciding on intervals.
  • Synthetic oil lasts forever. Synthetic oil generally has a longer lifespan than conventional oil. However, that doesn’t mean they never need changing. Synthetic oil still degrades over time, risking contamination.
  • Any oil works for my fleet vehicles. Not all engine oils are created equally. Using the wrong type or viscosity can damage your engine, decrease performance, and reduce fuel efficiency. Always use oil that meets manufacturer recommendations.
  • Changing the oil filter is enough. Changing the filter is important, but it doesn’t replace the need for fresh oil. The oil degrades over time, losing its ability to protect the engine, even if the filter is replaced.
  • Higher viscosity oil is always better for heavy-duty vehicles. Choosing a higher-viscosity oil for heavy-duty vehicles might seem logical. However, it can hinder the flow and lubrication of engine oil in colder temperatures. Follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for the appropriate viscosity.

Creating an effective strategy for fleet oil changes

Rio Grande Automotive’s skilled fleet technicians can help you create an effective strategy for your fleet’s regular oil changes. Our team has extensive experience in keeping your fleet at peak performance.

Stop by our shop or give us a call to schedule a service appointment. We can handle even the largest fleet’s needs.

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