Why It’s Time to Say Goodbye to Conventional Oils for Heavy Equipment


Chevron has announced the end of conventional oils in its Delo line for heavy-duty diesel engines.

Instead, the company is going full speed ahead with synthetic and synthetic blends. So does that mean all the owners of older equipment are out of luck?

The answer is an emphatic “no” from our guest on The Dirt, Walt Collier with Chevron. In fact, the old equipment will get better results from synthetics and synthetic blends, such as longer change intervals, improved engine performance and fuel savings, he says. Owners stand to save thousands of dollars a year by switching to the new oils.

Dropping conventional oils also makes shopping a lot simpler, as the product line is reduced from four categories to two, according to Collier.

So to find out more about why Chevron’s Delo line is dropping conventional oil and what that means for owners of heavy equipment, check out the latest episode of The Dirt.

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In This Episode:

  • 00:00 - Chevron Delo is No Longer Selling Conventional Oil
  • 00:30 - Why Stop Selling Conventional Oil When It’s Been Used for So Long?
  • 01:52 - Construction Industry Trends and Their Impact on Engine Oils
  • 03:56 - How On-Highway Regulations Impact Off-Highway Equipment
  • 04:37 - Will Synthetic Oils Perform Just as Well in Older Equipment?
  • 08:52 - Which Delo Oil Is Best to Replace Conventional Oil?
  • 09:53 - How Newer Oils Will Save You Money
  • 11:29 - Why Oil Monitoring is Important
  • 12:05 - How to Know What Oil is Best for Your Company
  • 12:59 - How to Extend the Life of Your DPF
  • 17:03 - Final Thoughts        


Bryan Furnace (00:00):

Today we're here to talk about Chevron's Delo Heavy Duty Engine Oil line, and some changes that are coming down the pipeline, and more importantly, why are those changes coming down the pipeline. Joining us today is Walt with Chevron, and he's going to give us an insight as to what the logic is behind changing the product lineup. So, today I'm going to hit you with the hard question right off the bat because as you've probably heard the old adage, why fix something that ain't broke? So, why drop conventional oil out of the Delo lineup?

Walt Collier (00:43):

Bryan, let me just say there was room to improve the entire Delo product line, especially when you think about the gaps in the cracks that were addressed during the supply chain crisis. But do you know what? The industry is continually moving forward with better quality base oils and Chevron with our high quality base oil production is naturally leveraging this to ensure our customers are getting the best products in the market. But Bryan, even more importantly than that, the purpose of Chevron changing up our product line and dropping conventional oils from the Delo lineup is because this move allows a trend towards syn blend and synthetic oils. This also allows for us to simplify our portfolio, especially when customers are purchasing at retail and truck stops, they sometimes have an overwhelming number of choices to decide from that make things very confusing for them. We narrow things down to product mix that makes the most sense, right? That is what you see as we move our new Delo product line from a category of four to a category of two, which is syn blend and synthetics.

Bryan Furnace (01:51):

Got you. So, one of the things that I've heard you yourself and some colleagues talk about is just how much kind of industry trends play into this? What sort of industry changes are coming down the pipeline that's played into making these changes?

Walt Collier (02:07):

Yeah, it's a lot of industry changes that are coming down that played a factor in this, but it's more of what happened or happening now in the industry to make these changes. Because when you think about the future of technology, it holds more uncertainty. I mean, we've had the global pandemic. We also needed to adjust our business at Chevron, which meant customers have improved access to reliable supply of competitively priced, competitively tiered high performance engine oils from Delo. And then you had these other industry changes coming, which was like situations where OEMs prepare for tighter NOx emissions. Cummins is introducing a new 15 liter natural gas engine to help customers get to near zero emissions. Truck manufacturers make advances in battery electric and hydrogen fuel cell technology, as well as the potential of hydrogen ice engines. And you also have situations where some owner operators will not be able to drive older trucks in certain states because of what the state emission standards may be. So, to deliver on these changes and adapt to the industry, we made the move to break with convention with our Delo product line.

Bryan Furnace (03:19):

So, I think that is something that we've talked about on a handful of previous episodes with you guys as Chevron, but still it doesn't quite translate down to the front line is you guys have to be thinking five to 10 years ahead of where we're actually at currently. And I think that's for a lot of us on the front lines, we kind of forget about that component that you guys aren't making decisions based off of, oh, right here, right in this moment we need to make this change. It's no, we realize in five to 10 years this is coming down the pipeline and to adjust and plan for that, we need to do X now.

Walt Collier (03:53):

Yeah, absolutely. You have to do it now, and you have to look at it two ways. First, you have the on highway side of the business. When you think about heavy duty engine oil and all of the restrictions and the regulations with emission controls really center around on highway. Although the changes don't happen right away, in the off highway segment, when they change an on highway, off highway is infected too. So, whatever changes that we make for the on highway side of the business for heavy duty off highway pretty much has to make the same changes. But at the end of the day, with the technology that we have with our Delo products, I mean there's no compromise. It's not going to impact off highway at all.

Bryan Furnace (04:37):

So, that kind of leads me into my next question is kind of thinking about in our industry, we've got a lot of older equipment still out there because everyone's trying to stay away from this stuff with all the new emissions. So, that being said, dropping a conventional product, is that really going to be able to, are these synthetics and synthetic blends really going to be able to replace those conventional products in break-in periods or in some of this older equipment?

Walt Collier (07:00):

So Bryan, let me answer it this way. When I think about the older equipment and the break-in periods, if the question is, can a synthetic or syn blend really replace the conventional product? The answer is yeah, the synthetic blend or the synthetic can replace the product. You do not need conventional oil for older equipment or break in periods. So, let me give a little bit of history especially to those purchasing at retail online. Since 2012, some heavy duty OEMs started to factory field with 15-40 and they had moved to 10W-30, right? Although it was conventional drivers were still hesitant to move from 15-40 to 10W-30. So, then by 2017, as drivers began to get comfortable with run and lower vis oils like 10-30 in these heavy duty engines and seeing that they could get better fuel economy, they started to slowly move to blends in full synthetics because most were trying to achieve longer oil drain intervals, but they also wanted to ensure that they had maximum engine protection.


Well then we got into this situation and the industry were drivers and equipment owners were saying, "Hey, you're lowering the oil viscosity for newer engines, but what about my older engines and equipment? Is this stuff reverse compatible with my older stuff too?" And the answer is, yes, it is. The thing is, Bryan, some heavy-duty drivers and heavy-duty equipment users have been using syn blends and synthetics in the place of conventional since 2017 and beyond, to achieve further oil drain intervals for longer hours of service. But because emission standards and technology for on highway was beginning to change so much by state, the move from conventional to descend blends and synthetics eventually became a smooth transition for them because they had a mixed fleet of older and newer engines, and it cost too much to have two different oils for these heavy duty engines.


And one more point that I like to make, although off highway equipment emission standards are different from on highway emission standards, there still should be no concerns from the end user because our conventional products for Delo are going away. In fact, for those customers that purchase at retail truck stops that are looking for the Delo 400 SDE 15-40 that we are discontinue, we call out on our label with a yellow violator strip that spells out replaces Delo 400 SDE 15-40 and XLE 15-40 with no compromise. That no compromise further solidifies that if you use the conventional oil for your older equipment, then as a replacement to conventional, we offer Delo 400 XLE SB15-40 with no compromise.

Bryan Furnace (09:42):

So, you answered my last question and we'll get back and we'll kind of circle back and put a tidy bow on this, but I did want to kind of encapsulate what you just kind of said through all of that. One of the things that we've kind of done over the last year, year and a half in these interviews is we've talked about a lot of ways that the newer oil, the lower viscosities, moving to a synthetic or a synthetic blend, it gives you a lot of cost savings coming at different angles.


So, we've talked about the oil testing component, the fact that you've got these much higher, more robust oils than we've had traditionally with just a conventional oil, you're able to get the longer drain intervals, but the only way you're going to take advantage of that is if you're doing some sort of oil testing program. You're also moving to the lower viscosities, which is going to give you better fuel economy, which on the dirt world side of things, we're not necessarily going to see that right off of the bat. But at the same time, you're still getting better fuel economy, you're going to get better startup performance in cold weather conditions. There's a lot of advantages to that.

Walt Collier (10:42):


Bryan Furnace (10:43):

And unfortunately, what you were describing with the conventional on the road truckers, we have this grand pappy mentality in the dirt world that so many guys are just still stuck in that rut of like I started the interview with, if it ain't broke, don't fix it. Let's just keep doing those oil changes with conventional 15W-40. We're going to do it every 500 hours because by God we're going to be safe. And these guys aren't realizing that you could be saving yourself thousands of dollars a year by switching to these new oils by getting into an oil testing program that that's not something to try to go get more money from you. It's no, in fact, this is going to allow you to save a lot of money over the course of a year in just regular oil maintenance. That's what this whole thing is about, to kind of tie it all together.

Walt Collier (11:29):

Yeah, absolutely it is, Bryan. Listen, if you own a piece of heavy duty equipment, you must have some type of oil monitoring program because that is the only way. It's just like when you and I go to the doctor and we can't see what's going on on the insides of our bodies. So, we run various different lab tests to point us in the direction of what needs to be repaired or fixed, right? With our bodies. And so when you think about heavy duty equipment, it's the same exact way, you use the oil monitoring process in order to figure out what's wrong with the piece of equipment. And Bryan, you have such a broad audience, and you have an audience of customers with hundreds and thousands of pieces of equipment to mom-and-pop customers who might only have one to 10 pieces of equipment. And this applies for both on and off highway because both sectors have heavy duty engines and in some cases these heavy duty engines are older than one may think.


So, the recommendation if you were asking what is the recommendation, if we're moving away from conventional, the recommendation of heavy duty engine oil would be based off what you're looking to achieve. You might be looking to achieve longer oil drain intervals. You might be looking to achieve excellent oil consumption or fuel economy retention. With the recent changes to our Delo product line, we have made it to where Delo is easier to choose when our customers are looking on the shelf or purchasing online. However, let's just say a customer standing in a retail store or purchasing online, and they were looking for a heavy duty engine or to purchase because they were looking to achieve better fuel economy while not compromising on the engine protection. But then they hear about this product that it could improve the service life of their DPFs. This caught their attention because of how they were going through the region process and they were tired of baking their clog DPFs.


Bryan, a clogged DPF is just bad. Everybody knows that. If the DPF collects up to 98% particulate matter emissions in the form of ash and soot. Ash is an in combustible material derived from metallic lubricant additives, and as ash and soot build up in the DPF, it increases engine back pressure, negatively impacted fuel economy. So, while the customer is scratching their heads looking for a heavy duty engine oil that helps decrease ash clog and improve fuel economy, they learned that we've created something that could help them in that space. And we've developed an ultra-low ash diesel engine oil that is specifically designed to fight DPF ash clogging and improve fuel economy over the life of the truck. And it is called Delo 600 ADF with OMNIMAX Technology, which is a Chevron patented technology. Delo 600 ADF is valuable because it reduces the rate of the DPF clogging to deliver extended DPF service life, and industry redefining fuel economy retention.


It's unique because no competitor engine oil can solve a problem outside the engine such as DPF clogging, and it is proven by extensive engine lab and field-testing. The formulation approach is patented, proven protected differentiation versus the competition. And Chevron has led the industry and research and development on low ash diesel engine oil technology for over a decade. So, for your audience that is wondering what the ADF stands for behind the Delo 600, I think it's important that I talk about that, that too. So we have Delo 600 ADF. “A” equals the after-treatment protection, which is Chevron's ultra-low ash additive, which uses 60% less metallic components that build up in the aftertreatment systems and require costly maintenance and equipment downtime. The D stands for drain interval extension, which utilizes a potent antioxidant system that breaks down at elevated operating temperatures, which otherwise limit engine oil life.


And the F stands for fuel economy retention, a new and proven performance dimension that enables equipment to retain its fuel economy performance offering significant lifecycle cost savings. This revolutionary technology sets us apart from the competition by offering an unmatched value proposition for customers with modern low emission engine technology. The point that I'm trying to make here, Bryan, is that it does not matter how old the heavy-duty engine is or how new the technology is for heavy duty engine, it does not matter if it's a fleet of 20,000 plus or a fleet of just one truck or one piece of equipment. At Chevron, we have you covered with our Delo Heavy Duty Engine Oil product line.

Bryan Furnace (16:24):

With everything you just said, my last question was kind of if I've been traditionally using a conventional engine oil, what should I switch to? And my takeaway from what you just said is it sounds like if I've got anything with an emissions package on it or any sort of after treatment, it sounds like the 600 ADF is kind of the way to go getting the reduced ash out of it, so it's going to extend your DPF life. You're still got the technology that's giving you the extended drain intervals, and you've got the technology built in that you're getting better fuel economy. That kind of sounds like a triple win there.

Walt Collier (16:58):

Absolutely. That's exactly what I'm trying to tell your audience and trying to say.

Bryan Furnace (17:03):

Well Walt, thank you for all of the information. I've started to say this pretty consistently every time I talk to you guys over at Chevron, I learn a little bit more and another puzzle piece locks into place and I start going, okay, now I understand.

Walt Collier (17:18):

Well, listen, that's our goal, Bryan, is to try to make sure that we present things in a way, just breaking it down to those terms of where people can truly understand.

Bryan Furnace (17:30):

Well, Walt, thank you again. This has been valuable.

Walt Collier (17:32):

Thank you so much, Bryan. Look forward to talking to you and seeing you soon.

Bryan Furnace (17:36):

Well, thank you again for Walt coming on the show to take the time to explain to us why the oil line is changing and what the benefits are for guys like you and me on the front lines. As always, I hope this helps you and your business. We'll catch you on the next episode of The Dirt.