Synthetic vs. Mineral Lubes for Gears
Every engine, from those in the smallest toy trucks to the ones in expensive high-end vehicles, uses gears of some kind. These gears transfer movement from the engine components to the axles – which means that they need to be in proper working order for the vehicle to perform at its highest standard. And with constant friction, hard metal parts, and often-dirty work environments, keeping gears lubricated is a must if you want your powertrain to do its best.
When it comes to lubricants, there are two kinds to know about: synthetic and mineral. Synthetic is more expensive, but more stable; mineral is cheaper, but not as versatile in extreme temperatures. How can you know which one to use on your powertrain gears?
Let’s talk about each one, first. Synthetic lubricants are more stable in extreme weather, and one of their major selling points is that they flow well in the cold, and do not break down as easily in heat. This makes them ideal for driving through the icy months of deep winter, or for long drives through hot, stuffy plains and prairies in the summer. However, this increased fluidity can also possibly mean more leaks – as they more readily get past seals and gaskets – and it also means synthetic lubricants are more expensive (usually around 2.5x more).
Mineral lubricants, on the other hand, are cheaper, and better suited to going through different weather types – provided they are not extreme at one end or the other. With southern Alberta’s generally mild winters, mineral lubricants are often enough to keep you going without too much trouble. However, they can get thick and sticky when it’s very cold, or oxidize and break down in intense heat, and if that happens then you will have to take care of it quickly, or risk damaging the gears and other moving parts of your engine.
Because much of Alberta is part of the prairies, and there is so much heavy industry, there’s plenty of dust in the air in this province – and much of this can end up in your engine’s intake, and eventually inside the lubricants and other fluids that work inside it. This particulate can nullify the benefits of synthetic lubricants altogether if it is not regularly tested – the contaminated gear lubes will reduce durability and life of driveline components and engines. Rather than simply saying that one type of lube is better for such conditions, we’ll say that the best thing to do is simply to change the lubricant more often! If you are not constantly heading into Arctic blizzards or southern heat waves, the high quality of modern mineral lubes and engine oils should be more than enough for your vehicle. Get a fluid analysis done at least once a year to check for particles, debris, or other contaminants that can create issues in the lifespan of your valuable components.
The best recommendation we can make? Ask a professional! If you don't need synthetic oils and lubes... don't use them! If you are choosing a product yourself then be sure to choose an extremely high quality one that is API approved like we always use for our customers! Here at West Tech Mobile, our technicians have years of experience in this area and in many, many others. We’re ready to assist you with any questions you may have, and to help you get the best driving experience and durability out of your vehicle when you’re out on the job. You can visit our shop at 22-5555 51 Ave SE in Calgary, or we can even come to you, wherever you are – we have a fleet of fully-equipped mobile service trucks that can bring our expertise directly to your site. It doesn’t get any more convenient than that! Drop us a line today to find out how we can help you make the right decisions for your vehicle. We look forward to talking to you!
When You Should Change Your Truck Gear Lubes
Modern trucks have come a long way since their start over a hundred years ago – from the simple engines and mechanical parts of the first trucks, we now have trucks that are specialized for all kinds of heavy-duty tasks. As their capabilities and environmental pollution standards increased, the amount of necessary equipment under the hood did, too, and today, we have finely-tuned machines that will perform their duties incredibly well…provided that they are maintained properly.
Some of the most important components in a truck transmission are the gears, which allow the generated movement to be transferred to the axles and the wheels. An improper gear alignment can wreak havoc on the vehicle’s ability to perform well, and the sound of grinding gears is one that no owner wants to hear while they’re on the road. To prevent this, and to keep your truck at its top abilities, it’s a good idea to make sure that your gears are not only set properly, but also lubricated correctly.
Gear lubricants, when clean and of the right viscosity and type, prevent early gear failure and ensure that your truck will stay reliable and on the road. In dry, dusty climates like Alberta, extra dirt (which grinds down your vehicle's components into microscopic particles of iron, brass, or other contaminants) can find its way into your gear lube lines, which is the first step in a process that leads to degradation, breakdown, and the potential to find yourself looking at thousands of dollars in repair costs. It’s like having sandpaper in your components, instead of lubrication!
At West Tech Mobile, we’re committed to preventative maintenance that fixes problems before they become major ones. For gear lubricants, we actually take samples and analyze them in a lab to determine how much contamination is present, in parts per million – and look to identify potential problems early on, so we can flush it out and easily extend the life of your valuable asset.
Beyond that, we’ve devised a better filtration system for your powertrain breathers, which allow air to circulate into and out of the system to avoid seal failures elsewhere. This means less grit in your lubricants, and a better, longer overall life of your truck.
Photo 1: The axle breather that the manufacturer puts on the rear axle. It’s about 9” long with no filter in it – this is not enough, and will allow contamination to enter your gear lubes, causing them to eventually break down and create a failure with a large associated cost to fix.
Photo 2: The axle breather from West Tech Mobile, which is much better for preventative maintenance. Notice the inline filtration system in the middle. Ours is much longer with an inline filter, which provides superior filtration and, if you drive your unit while it has any water, road splash, or dust along the axles, then our filter will help prevent costly breakdowns. This filter can also be used on transmissions, transfer cases, and other components in order to extend the life of your components.
Manufacturers usually suggest guidelines regarding how often you should change your gear lubes, but these are general and do not account for specific environments. In the area around Calgary in Alberta, where we have salty roads, high winds, a dry climate, and plenty of dust, the gear lubes can be contaminated quickly resulting in major problems. If this happens, a rear-end failure can have a repair bill of thousands of dollars’ worth of parts and labour. Comparatively, a West Tech Mobile flush, breather update, and lubricant swap is only a few hundred dollars – and will extend the life of those parts while saving you a lot of money. Simply come in for a lube analysis to see how your gear lubes are holding up!
We are living in a cost-conscious world now where companies try to make a minimal solution in order to cut costs, and such measures typically result in failed components shortly after the warranty is up. At West Tech Mobile, we strive to create long-term solutions that will keep you going, and making sure you get to where you need to be.
Call West Tech Mobile for your appointment today, at 403-265-5699, or visit our shop at #22, 5555 51 Ave SE in Calgary, Alberta. We’re happy to offer roadside assistance as well, for all of Alberta, including nearby towns and areas like Airdrie, Okotoks, Strathmore, Cochrane, Bragg Creek and more. Let us know how we can help you get the most out of your heavy-duty trucks!