May 15, 2024

Don't Make These 3 Common Mistakes When Changing Your Heavy-Duty Truck's Filters

Your heavy-duty truck fleet is vital for business success, requiring regular maintenance to ensure optimal performance and prevent costly breakdowns, keeping products moving and profits high.

Heavy-Duty Truck's Filters

The lifeblood of your business is your fleet of heavy-duty trucks. They keep your products moving and your bottom line healthy. Just like the human body needs regular checkups to stay in top condition, your trucks require routine maintenance to ensure optimal performance and avoid costly breakdowns. 

One crucial aspect of preventive maintenance is proper filter replacement. While many fleet managers understand the importance of heavy-duty truck filter replacement, even experienced professionals can make mistakes. These mistakes can lead to premature engine wear, increased fuel consumption, and unexpected downtime. In this article, we'll explore three common mistakes to avoid when changing your heavy-duty truck's filters, helping you keep your fleet operating smoothly and efficiently.

Mistake #1: Ignoring Recommended Filter Service Intervals

Heavy-duty truck engines operate under demanding conditions, hauling heavy loads and traveling long distances. These engines rely on a variety of filters, including oil filters, fuel filters, and air filters, to keep clean oil and air flowing freely, protecting critical components from wear and tear. Each truck manufacturer recommends specific filter service intervals based on factors such as engine type, application (long-haul vs. short-haul), and fuel quality. Ignoring these recommendations regarding filter replacement can have serious consequences:

Reduced Engine Life

Contaminated oil filters lose their effectiveness at trapping dirt and debris. Over time, this allows harmful particles to circulate through the engine, leading to increased friction, accelerated wear, and ultimately, a shortened engine lifespan. Following the manufacturer's recommendations for oil filter replacement ensures optimal engine protection and extends engine life, saving you money on costly repairs and replacements down the road.

Fuel System Issues

A clogged fuel filter restricts clean fuel from reaching the engine. This can lead to reduced power, poor fuel economy, and potential engine stalling. Regular fuel filter replacement as part of your routine maintenance schedule ensures optimal fuel flow and engine performance, keeping your trucks operating efficiently and reducing fuel costs.

Air Intake Problems

A dirty air filter restricts clean air from entering the engine, leading to reduced power output and increased fuel consumption. Replacing air filters at the recommended intervals helps your engine breathe easier and operate at peak efficiency. This translates to better performance, improved fuel economy, and reduced emissions.

Filter Service Intervals Are Not One-Size-Fits-All

The ideal service interval for each type of filter depends on various factors, including the specific engine, duty cycle (severity of use), and fuel quality. For instance, heavy-duty trucks operating in severe conditions like stop-and-go traffic, extreme temperatures, or under 5 miles per gallon (MPG) efficiency, will require more frequent oil filter replacement and air filter replacement compared to those used primarily for long-haul highway driving. 

For modern diesel engines in typical long-haul applications where you'll get 5 to 7 MPG, you can get generally get a 50,000-mile service interval for fuel filters, give or take 10,000 miles. Finally, for high-efficiency engines beyond 7 MPG — you’re starting to talk about 60,000 to 75,000 miles

Consulting your truck's owner's manual or a qualified technician can help you determine the optimal filter service intervals for your specific fleet. Some manufacturers even offer oil analysis programs that can help determine the optimal oil drain interval based on your specific operating conditions.

Mistake #2: Using the Wrong Filters

With a wide variety of heavy-duty truck models and numerous filter options available, choosing the wrong filter can be a costly mistake. Here's why using the correct filters is essential for proper filter replacement:

Improper Fit

An incorrectly sized filter won't create a tight seal, potentially leading to oil leaks or air bypass around the filter. Oil leaks can starve your engine of vital lubrication, causing significant damage. Air bypass around an air filter allows unfiltered air into the system, contaminating the engine and reducing performance.

Incompatible Bypass Valves

Oil filters are equipped with bypass valves that open when the filter becomes clogged. This allows unfiltered oil to circulate through the engine to prevent complete oil starvation. An incompatible filter might have a bypass valve that opens too early or too late, compromising engine protection. An oil filter that opens too early allows dirty oil to circulate through the engine, leading to increased wear. Conversely, a filter that bypasses too late can cause the engine to starve for oil.

Micron Rating Mismatch

Heavy-duty truck filters come in various micron ratings, indicating the size of particles they can trap. Using a filter with a micron rating too low won't effectively remove contaminants from your oil, while a filter with a very high rating might restrict oil flow. Selecting the correct micron rating based on your engine's needs and operating conditions is crucial for effective oil filtration.

The best way to avoid these problems is to always use the filters recommended by your truck manufacturer or a reputable heavy-duty truck parts supplier. Don't hesitate to seek assistance – knowledgeable staff at these suppliers can help you ensure you select the correct filters for your specific truck model and application. Many parts suppliers also offer online catalogs that allow you to easily find the right filters based on your truck's make, model, and year.

Mistake #3: Neglecting Other Important Filters

While oil filters are crucial for engine health, they're not the only ones that require attention as part of your routine filter replacement schedule. Here are some other essential filters to consider for your heavy-duty trucks:

Air Intake System Filters

Many modern heavy-duty trucks utilize multiple air intake filters, including pre-filters and secondary air filters. Pre-filters trap larger debris like dust and leaves, protecting the main air filter from clogging prematurely. Secondary air filters remove finer particles to ensure clean air reaches the engine. Regular replacement of all air intake system filters, as recommended by the manufacturer, ensures clean air reaches the engine, maximizing power, fuel efficiency, and engine lifespan.

Hydraulic System Filters

These filters protect hydraulic systems from wear and tear by trapping contaminants in the hydraulic fluid. Hydraulic systems power critical components like power steering, brakes, and winches. Contaminated hydraulic fluid can lead to increased wear, reduced efficiency, and potential component failure. Regular hydraulic system filter replacement helps maintain the smooth operation of these essential components, reducing downtime and repair costs.

Cabin Air Filters

These filters help maintain a clean and comfortable environment for drivers by removing dust, pollen, and other allergens from the air entering the truck's cabin. While not directly affecting engine performance, clogged cabin air filters can reduce air quality inside the truck, leading to driver discomfort and potential health problems. Replacing cabin air filters regularly is essential for maintaining a healthy and comfortable driving experience for your fleet operators.

Final Words

By avoiding these three common mistakes and following a comprehensive filter replacement schedule, you can ensure your heavy-duty truck fleet operates at peak performance, minimizes downtime, and reduces overall operating costs. Remember, preventive maintenance is an investment that pays off in the long run. Taking the time to properly maintain your filters is a crucial part of keeping your fleet healthy and on the road.

At Rhino Truck Lube Centres, we offer a wide variety of high-quality heavy-duty truck filters from trusted brands, ensuring you have the right parts to keep your fleet running smoothly. Contact Rhino Truck Lube Centres today to schedule your next filter replacement service and keep your trucks operating at peak efficiency!