Engine Coolant

 

How does a Fleet Manager or Preventive Maintenance program administrator pick the correct top-off, replacement, or factory fill Heavy Duty Coolant amongst the multi-colored, multi-chemical compound set of choices available?

Coolant specification has followed the trend of all other vehicle lubricant and filtration products by becoming more technically complex as a response to the quest for more efficiency balanced with manufacturer market control.

For example, if you have a red coolant from the factory, generally one could assume that it is a Nitrited Organic Acid Technology (NOAT) coolant, unless you have the Cummins Fleetguard ES Complete OAT (a non-nitrited Organic Acid Technology coolant or “OAT”) or the Detroit Diesel Power Cool Plus Coolant, another Red-tinted OAT.  If you think that Yellow means OAT, make sure you don’t have the Valvoline Zerex G-05 Coolant because that is an Inorganic Acid Technology  (IAT) or Traditional coolant.  Surprisingly, all of these different coolants (in concentrate) are more than 90% ethylene glycol.  All of the NOAT, OAT and IAT refer to the additive packages which are generally only 2-5% of the makeup of the coolant.  That’s right, all of these materials are over 90% the exact same ingredients. 

Coolants have been dragged along by the requirements of newer technologies.  As mentioned before, engine manufacturers are required to be more efficient and in order to do so they burn hotter than before and have lightened components. The increased temperature required for newer systems means that more resilient coolant is required, so updated additive packages were created.  You may have heard of pitting due to cavitation, which is the boiling of coolant at a micro level at the cylinder linings.  Nitrites were added to reduce cavitation, which worked until the cooling components were lightened.  Once aluminum radiators replaced the steel and copper units of the past, the weight was reduced, but new manufacturing processes caused unexpected chemical reactions.  The coolant chemistry was altered by remnants of aluminum brazing completed during the manufacturing process, and Nitrite free coolant OAT was developed to reduce the over nitration of coolant.  So yes, nitrites can be both good and bad when combined with OAT.Why are there so many colors?  Originally they were to distinguish between coolants within brands, but the brands never agreed on an industry-wide system.  The Technology and Maintenance Council (TMC) has made recommendations, however, it’s possible that the manufacturers are leveraging the confusion to keep consumers within each brand.  Once a consumer realizes that coolant is not as complex as it seems, the choices become clearer, and color can practically be disregarded.

A plan needs to be developed, communicated, and controlled in order for Coolant to be specified, flushed and topped off in a fleet operation.  The choice depends on the approach to upfront costs or the maintenance costs.  An IAT coolant can last 150,000 miles or 2 years with proper Supplemental Coolant Additive (SCA) testing.  Just as a lifeguard tests the pool for chlorine, field technicians use test strips to check coolant for testing nitrites in parts per million (ppm), freeze point, and pH balance.  The IAT costs less to purchase initially, however, needs to be constantly tested, adjusted, and has a shorter lifespan.  OAT and NOAT can last for up to 600,000 miles, with NOAT needing an SCA package at 300,000 miles, however, they are more expensive at the outset.  It is still recommended to test these coolants at a regular interval, and it is important to note that the NOAT and OAT additive (both Extended Life Coolants or ELC) have a different type of test strip than the IAT.  Remember, the base for all of these coolants is Ethylene Glycol (EG), so you can think of the choices as EG with IAT, NOAT, or OAT additives.

 

If you have specified and are operating with multiple additive package types within a fleet, how should top-off be handled?  Since we now know that OAT has no Nitrites, and NOAT has Nitrites, it stands to reason that OAT could be used to top off NOAT, as you will not be introducing an extra additive.  Conversely, NOAT should not be used to top off OAT because you will be turning the OAT into a Nitrited OAT and will have to reduce the interval to 300k.  The rule of thumb is that 10% of the coolant volume can be topped off with a longer-life coolant.  Shorter life coolants (IAT) cannot be used to top-off longer life coolants if the expectation is to maintain the longer life.  So always top-off with a longer life coolant.

There are outliers.  Ford has a specification (WSS-M97B44-D) that is not compatible with most coolants.  If you were to use the IAT, NOAT, or OAT mentioned previously in a 2003 or newer Ford Diesel, the gaskets would swell and cause leakage or damage to engine components.  This Ford specification is generally orange in color.  Luckily, the majority of heavy duty diesels are cross compatible.  Manufacturers such as Alliance, Chevron, Detroit Diesel, John Deere, Komatsu, Caterpillar, Castrol, Shell, Valvoline, and PACCAR can all be flushed and filled with EG coolants with IAT, NOAT, or OAT depending on your specification.  In essence, you could choose one coolant level across your entire fleet, flush and fill once if you are unsure of the original or current specifications, and then be in coolant maintenance mode from that point forward.In order to banish coolant complexity, a single coolant for your fleet is ideal.  Once a budget has been developed and a selection has been made, the coolant can be flushed at a preset mileage interval on a by-vehicle basis or all at once as a campaign.  If you are a fleet manager that insists on multiple coolant additive packages within your fleet, the vehicles need to have the type of coolant tracked in a maintenance database with the ability to properly schedule testing and adjustment of the coolant levels.  The program needs to be clearly communicated to your maintenance providers, purchasers, inventory personnel, and vendors; and the best practice would be to mark the vehicle with a permanent decal or placard indicating the coolant additive type.

More information on this subject is available online and in the TMC Recommended Practices, specifically RP329A and RP364.

 

 

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Officials from the trucking and maintenance industries are facing a technician shortage in the coming years. Companies are being urged to work closely with educators as one way to attract new talent. Bonne Karim, chairman of the Technology & Maintenance Council’s Professional Technician Development Committee says, “It’s not a problem, it’s an impending crisis.”

The core of the problem is based on the aging workforce. As current technicians are beginning to reach retirement, there just aren’t the number of new technicians entering the workforce. Detroit Diesel Corp. estimated in 2010 that more than half of the company’s mechanics would retire by 2015. Manpower Inc. found the largest worker shortage in the United States was in skilled trades such as mechanics and welders in several industries, including trucking. In a recent report from Daimler Trucks North America, they anticipate the need to acquire an additional 6,400 technicians by 2020.

At Fleetpro, we take our training programs and continuing tech education seriously. We pride ourselves in being able to offer this training to our staff. All of our staff, from technicians to management, all go through our training program to become certified in state and federal regulations and out of service criteria. By offering this training, Fleetpro attracts people to the industry by providing extensive an extensive training program, allowing new  skilled technicians to gain real world experience and be able to turn fl eet maintenance into a lifelong career.

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Fleetpro’s technicians, mechanics and foreman are all trained under a rigorous training system that has been developed over the last 30 years to ensure excellent service. Between 1994 and 1997, Fleetpro worked in conjunction with three University of Maryland Instructional Course Development professors under a grant from Maryland Industrial Partnerships (MIPS) to develop this training program. Between 2007 and 2010, Matt  Farcosky, Fleetpro Operations Manager, and a team of Fleetpro Training Program administrators developed and implemented a third set of major revisions to the series that refl ected upcoming industry and regulatory changes.

This fall, Fleetpro will be participating in the celebration of MIPS 25th Anniversary gala. The Maryland Industrial Partnerships (MIPS) program accelerates the commercialization of technology in Maryland by jointly funding  collaborative R&D projects between companies and University System of Maryland faculty. MIPS provides funding, matched by participating companies, for university-based research projects that help companies develop new products. MIPS projects help companies fi nd solutions to technical challenges, as well as develop products, processes or training materials. MIPS projects are conducted by university faculty and graduate students in  conjunction with company researchers. With more than 400 Maryland companies participating in project awards since 1987, worth over $160 million—MIPS projects create results.

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  • Render equipment immobile or difficult to move after hours or on weekends by not leaving equipment or trailers unattended, clustering equipment in a “wagon wheel” where more easily transported equipment is in the middle, surrounded by larger pieces of equipment.
  • Use hydro locks to fix articulated equipment in a curved position, preventing them from traveling in a straight line.
  • Maintain a log listing all equipment and serial or product ID numbers in a central location.
  • Use sleeve locks to fix backhoe pads in an extended position, keeping wheels off the ground.
  • Install a system that disables the equipment’s electrical or ignition system if universal keys are used.
  • Install a tracking transmitter system in each unit designed for construction and heavy-duty construction.

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Of all the performance metrics applied to MetroAccess service, safety is the highest priority. In recent years, WMATA (Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority) has made significant investments in building a safety culture, and the results have been noteworthy. MetroAccess has been a part of this change, demonstrating substantial reductions in both injuries and in accident frequency. Active and visible campaigns and regular training opportunities have been a driving force behind these results, complemented by a robust vehicle maintenance program provided by Fleetpro. The bar for safety and maintenance performance has been raised in this solicitation, and all MetroAccess contractors will be expected to perform accordingly.

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 You may know about “winterizing” your vehicle, but do you “summer-ize” your vehicle? Summertime is here, and that means summer vacations and summer travel season. But long drives, especially in extreme heat, can be rough on your vehicle. Before you hit the road for your favorite summer destinations, check out this list of maintenance suggestions:

10. Check your tires. Tire pressure changes with rising temperatures approximately one to two PSI for every 10 degree increase in outside air temperature. An under-inflated tire bulges outward and puts undo pressure on the tire sidewall. With enough heat and pressure, the tire will eventually blow. Over-inflated tires make less contact with the road surface and can cause hydroplaning during summer thunderstorms.

 9. Change oil and oil filter. Oil keeps hardworking engine parts running clean, smooth and cool. Before you take that long distance summer road trip, check your oil. Heavy driving mixed with high temperatures can lead to an overheated engine.

 8. De-Winterize your car. Lose the snow tires. Snow tires are heavy and will lower your fuel economy. If you haven’t driven your car very much during the winter months, it is a good idea to check all the fluid levels to make sure that there aren’t any leaks. It’s also important to clean the undercarriage of the car, especially if you are in a snowy climate. The salt that is used to melt ice and snow on roads can get caked on the underside of your car and begin to eat away at the metal.

 7. Check hoses and belts. The key to successful summer driving is keeping the engine cool. If hoses crack or belts snap, the radiator can quickly overheat. Check hoses for cracks, leaks and loose connections as well as doing visual checks on belts for cracks and damages.

 6. Change the air filter. Over the winter, your air filter can get clogged with salt and road debris. Replacing a dirty or clogged air filter can improve gas mileage by as much as 10%.

 5. Replace your windshield wipers. The summer months are notorious for sudden, violent thunderstorms. When water is beating against your windshield in buckets, your wipers NEED to work. This is true in daytime, but more so at night, when a storm can decrease visibility by 15 to 20 feet in front of your vehicle.

 4. Check your brakes. Your brakes are probably the single most important safety mechanism on your car. If you notice a brake problem, it pays to have it inspected or repaired as soon as possible. The cost of a brake repair service increases dramatically if even minor problems aren’t fixed in a timely manner.

 3. Check the coolant and radiator. Cars are designed to run pretty hot, but there is a limit to just how hot they should run. If an engine is allowed to get too hot, moving metal parts can actually start to melt and fuse together, causing a variety of engine problems.

 2. Clean your battery. Dead batteries are fairly common during the winter months. But the hot summer months are tough on your battery, too. Summer heat can speed up the chemical reaction inside a battery, causing the battery to be overcharged. This significantly reduces battery life. Regularly detach the battery cables and wipe off the terminals. Make sure that the battery is strapped down tightly and that all connections are secure. If you need to replace your battery, make sure it is the right battery type for your specific vehicle.

 1. Maintain your air conditioning. The most common cause of a malfunctioning air conditioning unit is a low level of refrigerant. This could be caused by a leak in the system. Since modern AC systems are complex, it’s best to have a professional check out the problem.

 For more information or to read more about the Top 10 Car Summer Maintenance Tips, you can read the full article at http://auto.howstuffworks.com/car-drivingsafety/accidents-hazardous-conditions/summer-car-maintenance.htm

 

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Maryland state transportation officials are warning drivers to avoid the Baltimore Harbor Tunnel this summer as a $3.9 million construction project gets underway. Beginning June 20, motorists are expected to encounter rush-hour and weekend delays of up to an hour as construction crews replace the concrete decking on a four-lane bridge south of the Interstate 895 tunnel toll plaza. The work will be done in four phases and is expected to be completed in October. Engineers believe the worst delays will come during the first two weeks of August, when the two southbound lanes close and two-way traffic shifts onto the renovated northbound lanes. The Maryland Transportation Authority is urging motorists to use the Francis Scott Key Bridge or Fort McHenry Tunnel during the construction project. (Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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Yes, it was 1982 when the first service truck hit the road to perform on-site preventative maintenance and inspection.  What a different world it was then.

The average cost of a new house was $82,200, a gallon of gas cost 91 cents, and the price of a new car was $7,983.00.  We didn’t have fax machines, cell phones, or email and desktop computers were rare.  However, smaller and cheaper gadgets were hitting the marketplace and the first CD player was sold in Japan.

Doctors performed the first artificial heart implant designed by Robert Jarvik and while Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan forged a life long relationship, there was serious tension between them, as Argentina and the UK went to war over the Falkland Islands.

And Fleetpro has had a few changes too… Many of us have had children who are now grown.  KJ Reynolds says, “I remember picking Matt up from school for Tom, I’d go to his kindergarten class and have to get him from the playground while he was running around… now he is running operations!  Four of our employees’ children now work at Fleetpro.

Tom & KJ - Home opener Redskins 1988

Tom & KJ - Home opener Orioles 2012

 

Says Tom Farcosky, “Yes things have changed and so have we.  One thing remains the same though, and that is our promise to our customers… we will work hard everyday to deliver a high quality service that permits you to increase your fleet productivity and reduce overall maintenance costs.”

From all of us at Fleetpro, thank you for the years of memories, your commitment to Fleetpro, your confidence in our service and for making us who we are today.  Thank you, thank you, and thank you!

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Delegate James Malone

The General Assembly in Maryland finally approved the budget for the next fiscal year.  One of the main topics of discussion was the Maryland gas tax.  Since January, when Governor Martin O’Malley proposed the increase in Maryland’s gas tax, prices at the pump have jumped more than 60 cents on average.  Due to Maryland’s already weak economy, it had been thought that raising the gas tax would damage the state’s economic recovery.  Gov. O’Malley has said that without the gas tax increase, Maryland is incapable of clearing a backlog of road and bridge repairs needed to keep travelers safe.  However, according to Delegate James Malone, there was just not enough support for the gas tax at this time.  “ Right, wrong or indifferent, the votes were not there for a gas tax and that is because our constituents have spoken loud and clear that they do not want one. With the gas prices increasing almost every day, we agree.”

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According to the MMTA’s latest newsletter, fraudulent DOT Letters are back  FMCSA has issued a new warning to carriers that may have received a fraudulent letter that is part of a recurring identity theft scheme.  The letters are dated March 16, 2012, and appear to be from the “U.S. Dept. of Transportation Procurement Office,” and signed by a fictitious name of “Julie Weynel – Senior Procurement Officer.”  The falsified letter is an attempt to obtain bank information by asking recipients to provide financial information on an “Authorization to Release Financial Information” form.  If you have recently received this letter, please contact the Office of Inspector General Hotline at http://dot.cantongroup.com/hotline, or by calling (800) 424–9071. Fleets are also encouraged to contact their local law enforcement agency.

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