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June 17, 2016 4:02 PM, EDT

New Engine Oils Coming in December

This story appears in the June 13 print edition of Equipment & Maintenance Update, a supplement to Transport Topics.

Two new types of engine oils are coming to market Dec. 1. The heavy-duty oil specification that has been used for nearly a decade will be replaced by CK-4 and FA-4, and this crucial development is one of the cover stories in this issue of Equipment & Maintenance Update.

The current version, CJ-4, is marketed under many brands and will be phased out, Staff Writer Roger Gilroy reports. The new oils are enhanced to handle hotter-running diesel engines and to improve fuel efficiency. The biggest change, though, is their ability to resist degrading in higher-temperature engines compared with CJ-4, our sources say.

Matso Lysiak

For months, manufacturers have been pumping out informational materials at industry trade shows to make the truck operators aware of the pending changes. The specification was once known as PC-11 in the planning stages, Gilroy reports.

BEST OF JUNE E&MU: More stories, columns

Yet, Dan Arcy, global OEM technical manager for Shell Global Solutions, said: “I see a lot of heads bobbing up and down like they understand what’s going on … but we won’t know that answer until the December timeframe.” That’s because customers won’t see the oils until then, he said.

Read to find out more, including where engine manufacturers are now on which oil will be the factory fill in their 2017 engines, and to learn about service fills and new drain intervals.

Our other cover story reports that, as of Aug. 1, 2017, the first versions of active safety systems — electronic stability control — will become mandatory on new U.S. Class 7 and 8 heavy-duty tractors, according to the 2015 rule from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Not surprisingly, sales of these technology-driven systems are on the rise, Associate News Editor Jonathan S. Reiskin reports.

Regardless of how sophisticated these systems get, including their appearance in autonomous driver-assistance trucks, they all start with anti-lock brakes. So ultimately, foundation brakes are the foundation of autonomous assistance, Reiskin reports. Available since 2005, ESC helps a truck avoid rollover accidents and minimizes loss of control during swerving.

And what about their maintenance? Active safety systems are usually very reliable, said Jim Boyd, manager of fleet technical services at Southeastern Freight Lines, based in Lexington, South Carolina. “They’re not completely trouble-free, but close to it,” he said.

To find out what the two major Tier 1 producers of active safety equipment are focusing on for product development, read this story.

Coincidentally, the aforementioned story dovetailed nicely with a “ride-and-drive” event in Washington, D.C., in May, hosted by Motor & Equipment Manufacturers Association. Manufacturers of vehicle safety systems, including those for heavy-duty trucks, showed off their latest technology for the benefit of federal policymakers and the press, Reiskin reports.

I tagged along to snap pictures for my very first ride and drive.

For me, the most thrilling vehicle technology was the automated emergency steering control from the TRW division of ZF North America. After experiencing this firsthand, I have since jokingly dubbed it as “ghost at the wheel.” That is, as Reiskin reports, similar to truck systems, it monitors the road ahead but uses steering controls in addition to brakes.

On the test drive on the RFK Stadium lot, the Opel Insignia car swerved sharply at the last second to avoid a crash with a car-like object on the pavement. Although this technology isn’t available on heavy-duty trucks, it’s amazing to experience the near-future of transportation technology.