Shell shows off durability of ‘thinner’ engine oil

Can the fuel economy and emissions reductions benefits of lower viscosity engine oil — thinner oil, essentially — be realized without sacrificing durability and, thus, engine life?

James Jaillet, news editor for our sister site, CCJ, attended a special engine teardown event held this week in Greensboro, N.C. hosted by Shell Rotella.

Engineers and teardown specialists from the lubricant maker had on display Wednesday at Clarke Power in Greensboro parts like pistons, cylinders and cam shafts from three engines that Shell had run field trials with in recent years.

One of the engines had used exclusively the current conventional lubricant, 15W-40, and one used exclusively a slightly lower viscosity oil, Shell Rotella T5 10W-30, that’s available on the market  today as part of the current CJ-4 oil category.

The third engine used a lubricant that’s part of the next-gen Proposed Category 11 oils, a 10W-30 low viscosity oil.

The parts of the engines were not labeled, and Shell representatives turned the display into a guessing game, challenging those in attendance — mostly trucking journalists — to choose which parts belonged to the engine running the low viscosity 10W-30.

None truly did, as those who chose correctly admittedly said they did so based on chance.

The results of the try-to-pick-it game drove home a point Shell made throughout the event about the durability concerns surrounding low viscosity oils: There shouldn’t be any.

Read Jaillet’s full report from the teardown here