Oil varnish can create significant problems for your fleet vehicles, causing you to lose money by investing in preventable repairs or replacements. When oil varnish is present, it affects your vehicle’s components and makes them less effective.
Understanding oil varnish and how to prevent it can better equip you to handle this potential issue. Our guide to oil varnishing breaks down this process, so you know how to avoid it and can save yourself valuable time and money.
What Is Oil Varnish?
“Varnish” is a term that encompasses oil deposits in systems. Oil varnish refers to the sticky coating that forms when oil deteriorates as a result of high heat and friction.
As lubricants and oils begin to deteriorate, oxidation creates chemical byproducts from the oil and contaminants. After the coating forms, it sticks to materials and equipment to create an abrasive surface.
You can find oil varnish on a variety of vehicle components, including valves, pipes, and filters. This coating affects the components’ functions, reduces their effectiveness, and threatens their life spans.
What Causes Oil Varnish?
The varnish production process often begins when a specific factor upsets the lubricant’s stability. A varnish precursor could be excessively high heat or something similar that causes the oil to start deteriorating. As a result, impurities begin to form, and large buildups stick together to form insoluble particles. These particles become attracted to metal materials and turn into varnish.
Occasionally, oil cross-contamination can trigger the varnish cycle. If you add new oils with different additive formulations than your existing oil, you can cause the oils to react with each other. This can upset the lubricant system and cause the oil to begin deteriorating.
While detecting oil varnish can be challenging, you can look for certain factors to determine if your vehicles have oil varnish:
- Look for signs of splatter or sludge under the hood.
- Identify small clumps of sludge on the engine.
- Evaluate your oil pan for clean oil and understand what oil color means.
- Note when components start performing poorly.
- Monitor oil aging and color.
- Learn how to understand grease color and how grease differs from varnish.
How to Prevent Oil Varnish
Although oil varnish can lead to the failure of your vehicles and affect your business efficiency and productivity, you can take steps to prevent oil varnish buildup. Learn how you can prevent oil varnish by reading the tips below.
1. Change Oil and Filters Regularly
Changing your vehicles’ oil and filters is a necessary maintenance step you should regularly practice — improper oil levels, burnt oil, and aging oil can result in the varnish that creates significant problems.
Both older vehicles and those with high mileage may need changes more frequently, and you should invest in high-quality products that will expand your vehicles’ life spans. Create a maintenance schedule according to the guidelines in your owner’s manual.
2. Prevent Stop-and-Go Driving
Driving in a stop-and-go fashion can strain your vehicles’ engines and contribute to varnish buildup. Instruct your drivers to stay on their routes and eliminate unnecessary stops as much as possible. Encourage them to complete multiple tasks, such as using the restroom, refueling, and eating at the same stop. Explain the benefit of staying in motion rather than stopping completely where applicable.
3. Use a Varnish Remover
Using a varnish remover can decrease the problem before it creates significant issues. In some cases, you may need to have a professional mechanic remove the varnish, and they can likely provide advice for preventing it in the future and discuss any problems the varnish caused.
4. Consider Antioxidant Additives
Some lubricants possess antioxidants that can prevent the varnish cycle. These products can slow the oxidation process, reducing the opportunities for varnish to occur. While you will still need to continue regular fleet maintenance, you can give yourself more time to address the potential issue when you use certain additives.
If varnishing occurs, you can look toward systems that remove soluble varnish or systems that can remove suspended particles.
5. Find a Fuel Stabilizer
Using a fuel stabilizer can prevent fuel from breaking down and becoming varnish. This issue happens most often when your vehicle has been sitting for a prolonged period, so a fuel stabilizer is ideal for vehicles that do not see much use.
While treating these vehicles, monitor the fuel and ensure each related component is working effectively. Care for these vehicles at the same time as your other trucks and replace any parts that do not improve with a thorough cleaning.
6. Add Varnish Detection to Your Maintenance Schedule
The best way to protect your vehicles from varnish is to know what it looks like. Schedule time to routinely check for signs of varnish on your fleet. As you clean different components and conduct other routine maintenance, always take a few moments to check for varnish. When you notice small traces, address the issue immediately.
Prevent Varnish With SC Fuels
SC Fuels is a leading supplier of bulk lubricants in the United States. We value keeping your business moving, and we want to be your single-choice fuel partner to help your business thrive. Our vast experience and industry knowledge have empowered us to be a leader in the industry, and we uphold uncompromised integrity to find the best solution for your needs.
By finding the right lubricants and delivering quality care to your vehicles, you can prolong their life spans and maximize business productivity and efficiency while saving costs on maintenance and replacements. We know that the proper supplies can minimize downtime, maximize equipment longevity, and ensure reliability, which is why we offer a full line of products to meet your needs.
When you work with us, you gain access to a knowledgeable, friendly, and reliable team ready to meet your needs. With the SC Fuels advantage, you can enjoy:
- Accurate, on-time, and safe delivery.
- Secure and steady fuel supply.
- Diversified industry alliances.
- Extensive industry experience.
- Unmatched customer service.
Contact SC Fuels to address your fuel needs today.