On-Site Magazine

Choosing the right lubricant


Construction Equipment

Analysis is part of an effective maintenance plan.

(Photo: © Tomasz Zajda / Adobe Stock )

If you operate haul trucks, tractors, bulldozers or dump trucks, you’re likely familiar with heavy-duty oils, but you may not know that different types of heavy machinery require different lubricants.

Any machinery part that rotates or moves requires lubrication to function correctly. Your choice of lubricant is an essential decision that should take into consideration engines, transmissions, differentials, final drives, hydraulic systems, cooling systems and gear reducers. Each of these parts requires specialized care and consideration.

The environment, application and bearing speed are all important factors to consider when choosing a lubricant to maintain optimum equipment performance, and the oils required must also meet specifications set by the Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM).




The environment has an enormous impact on how well a lubricant will perform. For example, one may perform well in a hot and humid environment, while another may prefer a cooler, drier climate. Other environmental factors impacting lubricant performance include dust, dirt and water.

The season in which you operate is also a factor to consider. Cold winter temperatures require a lubricant with a lower pour point, while the summer heat may demand one with higher shear stability that does not thin out.



Another important consideration when purchasing lubricant for heavy machinery is ensuring the product has been tested and approved for the applications in which you will be operating. Oils used within the construction industry are different from those used within the automotive industry in many ways.

Many lubricants developed and formulated for the construction or off-highway sector have undergone rigorous testing. This testing allows them to perform well in heavily loaded, harsh operating conditions.

Some have also been enhanced with Extreme Pressure (EP) additives, and additives such as moly in greases provide better lubrication in high shock load applications, such as pins and bushings on an excavator.



A proper maintenance schedule can help you identify a minor problem before it becomes significant and costly. Ensuring your team follows OEM guidelines and recommendations is always a good policy when beginning a proper preventative maintenance program.

Along with adhering to OEM compliance, we highly encourage the implementation and use of a used-oil analysis program. Oil analysis enables a starting point or baseline in which one can follow and study trends.

This type of program also allows for a scientific and data-focused approach regarding the setting of oil drain intervals. Additionally, used oil analysis programs are helpful when analyzing information from a sample report, such as viscosity, wear metals and presence of water.

OEMs will also have a recommended interval for changing out all lubricants. An end-user may be able to adjust these intervals using a fluids analysis program, which gauges wear particles, and by upgrading to a semi- or full-synthetic oil. A fluids analysis program can help construction professionals save on downtime and repair costs.



Along with selecting high-quality, heavy-duty lubricants for your on- or off-highway needs, it is also essential to look at your other fluids and product selections. This should include fuel, whether it be gasoline, diesel or biodiesel, as well as the selection of Diesel Exhaust Fluid (DEF), different types of coolant and antifreeze for a mixed fleet, and the type of grease for particular grease applications.

It is also good practice to keep vehicles and equipment clean and well-organized. Proper cleaning may include regular washing, keeping a clear windshield or area for visibility, and ensuring that windshield washer fluid and DEF are always topped off.



Improper equipment care or an unreliable preventative maintenance schedule can cause unexpected and increased equipment downtime, as well as costly repairs. A machine in the shop is unproductive and can cost a company a lot of money. Downtime can lead to an increased cost of ownership and ultimately lower profits. In addition to these inefficiencies, worker safety may also be at risk.

You can easily avoid lower profits, inefficiency and safety concerns by choosing the correct lubricant and maintaining proper equipment upkeep. If you consider the climate, applications and maintenance requirements, you’ll be able to keep your machinery running like new throughout the year.


Justin Kraus is the supervisor of commercial sales in Ontario for Parkland and its lubricant brand Ridgeline.


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