The last new diesel-oil standard came out about the time of the first iPhone; this new oil category reflects a technology advance like what we’ve seen in smartphones since then.
One of my key responsibilities is working with quarry operators and aggregates producers to optimize site efficiency. When we’re evaluating an operation, we look for improvement opportunities in the usual places—loading and hauling tool matches, job layout, haul road design, material flow, operator skills. But we also look carefully at maintenance practices because they have such a big impact on uptime.
As I’ve met with maintenance professionals lately, I’ve been hearing questions about CK-4 engine oil. It’s been on the market for a more than the year, but if you’re not fully up to speed on the new product, here are a few things to know about it.
1. It really is different.
Some ask why it was necessary to develop a new generation of engine oil for Tier 4 products, because, after all, you’ve been using CJ-4 oil in Tier 4 engines for some time now. Remember that CJ-4 oil was introduced 10 years ago—about the time the first iPhone came out. Think about how rapidly technology has changed since then. This new category of oil reflects that kind of change.
2. It sets a whole new standard for protection and performance.
The differences between CJ-4 and CK-4 are real and significant. The CK-4 formulation:
Resists oxidation, even under high-heat conditions, reducing engine deposits and extending oil change intervals
Reduces aeration, preventing oil breakdown, cavitation, and corrosion
Improves shear stability, which makes viscosity more consistent under high loads, translating into better lubrication and protection
3. There are consequences if you don’t use it.
Using CK-4 oil is the best way to optimize Tier 4 performance, fuel economy and durability. That said, CJ-4 oil will not damage a Tier 4 product. But beware of older oils including CH-4 and CI-4. They may:
Plug the diesel particulate filter, causing excessive regeneration and reducing engine life
Deactivate or “poison” the catalytic material in the after-treatment system, rendering it ineffective
Reduce operating efficiency, jeopardizing performance, life and operating costs
4. You can use CK-4 oil in older engines.
Although this oil was developed especially for new Tier 4 engines, you can use it in older models too. The industry calls that “backward-compatible.”
5. You’ll want to buy the same viscosity grade.
In off-highway equipment, if you’re switching from CJ-4 to CK-4, just buy the grade you’re currently using.
6. All brands are not the same.
The CK-4 standard, established by the American Petroleum Institute (API), represents a minimum requirement. Some oils, including those offered by Caterpillar, exceed the standard.
A solid maintenance program—one that includes proactive planning, disciplined practices, and quality oil, filters and wears items—can play a big role in site efficiency and profitability.
Jason Hurdis, Senior Market Professional, Construction Materials Industry, Caterpillar Inc.