TORRANCE, CA ­­- There has been an ongoing trend by OEMs to extend recommended oil drain intervals, which has helped to decrease preventive maintenance expenses.

However, the new GF-5 and Dexos motor oils have raised oil change prices for newer vehicles requiring these motor oils. The upside is that many service facilities are embracing menu pricing for synthetic motor oil versus billing a per-bottle upcharge, helping to keep costs in line. In addition, pricing among the major tire/service national account providers has been very competitive.

Still, using premium/synthetic oils, particularly due to requirements by some OEMs has driven the cost of individual services up.

However, the benefits of synthetic oils can offset the higher costs. For instance, while synthetic oil can be more expensive, the change intervals have also increased, resulting in no net change. The extended interval means less time in the shop for the vehicle and more time on the road. Some national account providers have established reduced pricing for synthetic oil changes, which can reduce total annual costs for oil changes by up to 20 percent.

Some fleets have gone the sustainable route by exploring the use of recycled oil. While it has environmental benefits, fleet managers should make sure that the oil meets GF-5 standards for newer vehicles and has the correct oil specifications, since some providers may not have semi- or full synthetic oils.

New engine technologies - especially with diesel engines - have resulted in changes in motor oil used, which have increased costs.

Keeping up with service intervals that match vehicle usage is another way to minimize oil drain charges. For instance, a severe duty interval should only be used for a vehicle that has a severe duty schedule.

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