SEATTLE. At a meeting held here yesterday to educate its customers on the changes that will be wrought by the new EPA diesel engine emissions rules that take effect just weeks from now, Shell Lubricants fielded plenty of questions about the shop-level details of operating and maintaining trucks with 2010-compliant engines.

On hand to answer those questions-- at what was the last of ten such regional symposiums held around the country-- was Dan Arcy, OEM technical manager for Shell Global Solutions (U.S.). Many of the questions centered on what happens if a driver fails to refill the Diesel Exhaust Fluid (DEF) tank or simply fills it will water instead. Arcy reviewed the various systems designed to keep the driver informed of the level of DEF in the tank, from the analog DEF gauge, to the green-yellow-red warning light system. If a driver lets the tank run absolutely dry, he or she can still drive 1,000 miles on an engine de-rated to operate at 55 mph, Arcy explained. After that, once the truck speed drops to 5 mph or less, the driver will not be able to go any faster than 5 mph until the DEF is replenished.

Arcy also answered many other questions about DEF, from tank size (6-30 gallons), to the amount of DEF required (about 2 gallons per every 100 gallons of diesel) to the type of storage container required (stainless steel or plastic, because the urea in DEF will corrode steel and aluminum over time) to the effects of “accidently” putting diesel in the DEF tank or DEF in the fuel tanks. The nozzle used for filling the DEF tank is smaller than a diesel fuel nozzle, making it very difficult to accidently put diesel into the DEF tank, he explained. The DEF tank also has a blue cap clearly labeled “DEF.”

Putting DEF into the fuel tanks, however, was another matter because that smaller DEF nozzle will fit into a fuel tank. “DEF is 67.5 percent water, so you really don’t want that in the fuel tank,” Arcy cautioned. “If I had a fleet, I’d tell my drivers, ‘If you accidently put DEF into the fuel tank, don’t take the truck out on the road. Call me right away instead, so that we can get the tanks drained and do what needs to be done.’ Otherwise, the truck will come to a stop about 20 miles down the road and you will have an expensive towing bill to add to your problems.”

Attendees themselves had good information to share as well. Interestingly enough, although fleets had 2007 and newer trucks in operation, no one in the audience had reached the point where a diesel particulate filter (DPF), required since 2007, had to be removed and cleaned. According to Arcy, fleets using CJ-4 oil are finding that the DPFs can run 300,000-plus miles before requiring cleaning, much farther than the minimum required by the regulation.

Arcy also had good news concerning the engine oil requirements for 2010 engines, whether they use DEF in a Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) process or Exhaust Gas Recirculation to meet the new emission requirements. “There are no engine oil changes required for 2010,” he said. “API CJ-4 engine oils will be required, no matter which engine you use, so that is one thing you can check off your to-do list for 2010.”

Before wrapping up the session, Arcy discussed the trend toward lighter-viscosity oils for enhanced fuel economy; the contribution axle oils can make to improving fuel economy; and the use of extended life coolants in today’s trucks.