Maximize filter performance to minimize construction vehicle maintenance costs.

To maximize fleet efficiency and avoid downtime, many construction businesses have thorough preventive maintenance programs that include equipment management plans and life-cycle analysis. However, one of the most important elements to protect is the heart of heavy-duty vehicles: the engine. To avoid engine failures and get the most productivity out of machinery, companies must understand the filters that protect the engine.

Performing maintenance on a filter
Standard vs. Extended-life Filters

There are various filters for heavy-duty vehicles, and each type is important. When it comes to protecting the engine, the focus is on heavy-duty oil/lube filters. Owners can choose between a standard oil filter and an extended-life filter.

Extended-life filters keep oil flowing smoothly across the media while delivering extremely high filter efficiency over a longer period of time, also allowing fewer contaminants to pass through the filter media. They have 1½ times the filter capacity of cellulose filters, with a contaminant-holding capacity of 90 grams. Extended-life filters also protect engine parts by permitting oil to flow freely during cold engine starts. Conventional filters typically have a 30-gram contaminant-holding capacity, but extended-life filters offer a 15-gram contaminant-holding capacity.

One other type of extended-life filter is the time release technology filter. This filter type provides a steady release of additives over time to neutralize oil acidity and limit oil oxidation, giving fleet managers the opportunity to increase oil change intervals in acid-challenged engines.

Filter Maintenance
Oil filter maintenance starts with knowing when to change the filter. A rule of thumb operators can follow is to change the filters every time the vehicle’s oil is changed to ensure peak operational efficiency. It is also recommended that a heavy-duty oil filter be changed every 20,000 miles, although innovative new filter designs have enabled construction owners to push that closer to 40,000 miles.

Many equipment owners look to extend oil service interval time. Doing so requires not only the right filter but the right plan. Any decision to extend oil drain intervals must be based on oil analysis and adherence to OEM criteria for acceptable oil-operating properties. Astute fleet managers are using resources such as online time-release technology calculators to help them understand current maintenance costs associated with oil changes.

Micron Ratings
A filter’s micron rating denotes the size of a particle that can be removed from the fluid passing through it. For example, an oil filter could be rated as a “10 micron” filter, which means it has the capability to capture particles as small as 10 microns (the equivalent of a speck of talcum powder) or larger. Filters vary in their efficiency at removing particles of certain sizes.

Additionally, filters are rated according to their efficiency of capturing particles of the size for which they are designed. A “nominal” micron rating denotes a 50-percent efficiency, and an “absolute” rating denotes a 98.7-percent efficiency.

Protecting Operators
Along with proper maintenance, operator health is another important component of equipment efficiency. Cabin air filters protect operators—especially those with allergies—from dust, smog and pollen. These filters help trap bacteria, small particles and exhaust gases that come through a truck’s ventilation system. Cabin air filters were originally designed to prevent solid contaminants from circulating inside a vehicle, but technology has evolved to the point where they can now also absorb gases and odors.

Eventually, a cabin air filter will start to lose its effectiveness, at which point air flow becomes restricted, and heating and air conditioning performance is decreased. It is recommended that a cabin air filter be replaced at least once per year or every 12,000 to 15,000 miles for on-road vehicles. Replacement is recommended sooner for those operating in the dusty conditions or heavy-pollutant environments commonly associated with construction sites.

Operators should select a cabin air filter that features electrostatically charged filter fibers, which allow the fibers to work at higher efficiency because they attract and hold contaminants within the media. This reduces the negative effects of surface clogging and allows the filter to last longer.

It’s important to evaluate the filtration systems you have in place. When it comes to managing maintenance, you must invest in the right filter technology or watch your engines—and investments—go up in smoke.