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#4583494 - 11/24/17 09:31 AM Understanding TBN in Modern Heavy Duty Engine Oils
wemay Offline


Registered: 04/04/12
Posts: 8999
Loc: Southeast Florida
http://www.ccjdigital.com/partner-soluti...ty-engine-oils/

Understanding TBN in Modern Heavy Duty Engine Oils
Content Below is Presented By:
Sponsored Information Published on May 31, 2017

Historically, Total Base Number (TBN) has been perceived as a key indicator of remaining useful oil life in heavy-duty engine oils. While acid neutralization is still an important function of engine oil, changes in engine design and the move to Ultra Low Sulfur Diesel (ULSD) fuels have decreased the amount of acids produced in the engine and influenced oil formulations over the last decade. This article explains the differences in ASTM test methods for TBN, industry changes leading to the current categories, and the change in how TBN values may be interpreted with the new oils.

The Test Methods

ASTM D2896 is the test method most commonly used to measure TBN on new oils. Use of a very strong acid identifies both “hard” and “soft” TBN, giving the total alkalinity reserve of the sample. The value obtained from this test is the number reported on most technical data sheets.

ASTM D4739 is the test favored by oil analysis labs on used oil samples. Using a weaker acid, it only identifies alkalinity from metallic elements like calcium, magnesium, and zinc. These metals are often doing double-duty in the oil (calcium provides detergency and also acid neutralization; zinc in the popular anti-wear additive ZDDP also contributes to anti-oxidation). This test does not identify newer ashless (i.e. non-metallic) additives, and reported values will be lower versus ASTM D2896.

API CJ-4 to CK-4

When the industry updated from API CI-4 / CI-4+ to API CJ-4 oils, the new oil chemistry differed from those of previous service categories. To safeguard the effectiveness and service life of exhaust after-treatment devices, API CJ-4 limited sulfated ash to no more than 1%, and oils were formulated with lower levels of metallic additives and new ashless additives. This resulted in finished oils with lower TBN under the ASTM D4739 method versus the previous category.

As a result of increased levels of ashless anti-oxidants, many current CK-4 oils may reflect a higher initial TBN via ASTM D2896 than previous CJ-4 versions, but those same new oils will also likely reflect an even lower TBN via ASTM D4739, due to the decrease in over-based metallic detergents (which create ash when burned, leading to engine deposits). The table below illustrates the differences one might see in initial observed TBN values, depending on the API specification claimed and testing method used:





Volvo / Mack T-13 – New Industry Test for Oxidation Stability

If TBN is no longer the best measure of useful oil life with regard to oxidation stability, how do we know that the new oils are up to the task? Mack addressed this topic with the inclusion of their test protocol as part of the new API CK-4 standard as well as Volvo / Mack’s own proprietary VDS-4.5 specification.

This new test evaluates the candidate oil’s oxidation stability, nitration and resistance to bearing corrosion. CJ-4 technology generally cannot pass this test without a significant antioxidant boost, making the T-13 test a critical part of the new CK-4 standard, as well as setting the performance limits for Volvo / Mack’s VDS-4.5 specification. Passing this grueling test indicates a significant increase in oxidation protection even at lower TBN values by ASTM D4739.

Putting It All in Perspective

As additive chemistry has shifted, the standard TBN testing protocol simply doesn’t provide the same level of insight that it once did. When looking at used oil analysis reports, the full range of available data should be considered. If TBN appears to be low but all other criteria are good (low wear metals, corrosion control, viscosity / oxidation control), there is likely little reason to worry.
_________________________
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NAPA Full Synthetic 5w20 | OEM

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#4583501 - 11/24/17 09:35 AM Re: Understanding TBN in Modern Heavy Duty Engine Oils [Re: wemay]
bigj_16 Offline


Registered: 07/03/17
Posts: 1291
Loc: Douglas County, Colorado
Good read. This also emphasizes the point that many on this board use decades old "common wisdom" when making oil decisions, and really need to step into the present.

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#4583514 - 11/24/17 09:50 AM Re: Understanding TBN in Modern Heavy Duty Engine Oils [Re: wemay]
zeng Offline


Registered: 09/01/15
Posts: 2200
Loc: Malaysia
It looks as though BStone was 'far sighted' in demarcating TBN > 1 as being good, UOA values on [email protected]*C and metal wear #s generally supports BStone position .

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#4583612 - 11/24/17 12:00 PM Re: Understanding TBN in Modern Heavy Duty Engine Oils [Re: wemay]
FermeLaPorte Offline


Registered: 07/25/17
Posts: 509
Loc: Texas (south)
Just change oils every 3 months. It can't fail you.
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Always Mobil 1
2014 1.6L Nissan Versa Sedan, 5 spd, 5k OCI.
2011 3.5L Chevrolet Impala, Automatic, 5k OCI.

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#4583624 - 11/24/17 12:17 PM Re: Understanding TBN in Modern Heavy Duty Engine Oils [Re: wemay]
BrocLuno Offline


Registered: 09/06/15
Posts: 5625
Loc: Kalifornia Kollective
In a big truck engine ...
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Formerly in marine engineering. In an earlier life I owned my own petroleum tank truck, and hauled for the majors and independent's.

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#4583634 - 11/24/17 12:26 PM Re: Understanding TBN in Modern Heavy Duty Engine Oils [Re: wemay]
PiperOne Offline


Registered: 10/25/17
Posts: 194
Loc: A Highway Near You
Great post. If nothing else it explains why VOA TBN numbers never meet the ones on the product spec sheet.
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HDEO in Diesel Engines. No spark plugs here.

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#4583674 - 11/24/17 01:02 PM Re: Understanding TBN in Modern Heavy Duty Engine Oils [Re: FermeLaPorte]
Linctex Offline


Registered: 12/31/16
Posts: 6186
Loc: Waco, TX
Originally Posted By: FermeLaPorte
Just change oils every 3 months. It can't fail you.


This line of reasoning isn't really supported by evidence or facts.
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(Re:VOA)"it's nearly impossible to actually know the particular additives that are in there at what concentrations."

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#4583802 - 11/24/17 04:28 PM Re: Understanding TBN in Modern Heavy Duty Engine Oils [Re: wemay]
Garak Offline


Registered: 12/05/09
Posts: 24764
Loc: Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada
Note that the ACEA E sequences, where minimum TBN is specified, also specify the testing protocol.
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Plain, simple Garak.

2008 Infiniti G37 - Shell ROTELLA T6 Multi-Vehicle 5w-30, NAPA Gold 7356
1984 F-150 4.9L - Quaker State GB 10w-30, Wix 51515

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#4584057 - 11/24/17 09:30 PM Re: Understanding TBN in Modern Heavy Duty Engine Oils [Re: wemay]
dnewton3 Offline



Registered: 05/14/07
Posts: 7409
Loc: Indianapolis, IN
Originally Posted By: wemay
http://www.ccjdigital.com/partner-soluti...ty-engine-oils/

... When looking at used oil analysis reports, the full range of available data should be considered. If TBN appears to be low but all other criteria are good (low wear metals, corrosion control, viscosity / oxidation control), there is likely little reason to worry.


I have so been saying this for several years. TBN (and TAN crossover) don't mean nearly as much as they did two decades ago.
Finally it's in print elsewhere and just maybe some of you might pay attention.
_________________________
The act of preventative maintenance, in and of itself, is FAR MORE important than brand/grade/base choices among lubes and filters.
- under maintaining something is akin to abuse/neglect; that can kill equipment by shortening the lifespan
- over maintaining something has never been proven to be anything but a waste of time and money

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#4584101 - 11/24/17 10:49 PM Re: Understanding TBN in Modern Heavy Duty Engine Oils [Re: wemay]
A_Harman Offline


Registered: 10/01/10
Posts: 6950
Loc: Michigan
Originally Posted By: wemay
http://www.ccjdigital.com/partner-soluti...ty-engine-oils/


Putting It All in Perspective

As additive chemistry has shifted, the standard TBN testing protocol simply doesn’t provide the same level of insight that it once did. When looking at used oil analysis reports, the full range of available data should be considered. If TBN appears to be low but all other criteria are good (low wear metals, corrosion control, viscosity / oxidation control), there is likely little reason to worry.


So does this mean that we need to start asking for oxidation and nitration readings on UOA's instead of TBN?
_________________________
1985 Z51 Corvette track car
2002 Camaro Z28 LS1/6-speed
2001 Dodge Ram 2500 diesel
1972 GMC 1500 shortbed project truck

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#4584133 - 11/25/17 12:36 AM Re: Understanding TBN in Modern Heavy Duty Engine Oils [Re: wemay]
2015_PSD Offline


Registered: 09/26/10
Posts: 7356
Loc: SE Texas
Good read, but in all honesty has anyone ever seen a low TBN on any diesel UOA? I sure have not and so I do not place much importance on that particular attribute--gasoline engines are a different matter.
_________________________
2018 MB AMG GLC43 3.0L Coupe - Castrol 0W-40/Purflux
2018 MB C300 2.0L - M1 0W-40/OEM
2015 F-250 6.7L PS Diesel - Delo 15W-40/CQ Blue
2014 Explorer 3.5L Limited - M1 AFE 0W-20/FU

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#4584375 - 11/25/17 10:30 AM Re: Understanding TBN in Modern Heavy Duty Engine Oils [Re: 2015_PSD]
bigj_16 Offline


Registered: 07/03/17
Posts: 1291
Loc: Douglas County, Colorado
Originally Posted By: 2015_PSD
Good read, but in all honesty has anyone ever seen a low TBN on any diesel UOA? I sure have not and so I do not place much importance on that particular attribute--gasoline engines are a different matter.

Since you're asking, yes, I have seen numerous diesel UOA's with low TBN's.


Edited by bigj_16 (11/25/17 10:30 AM)

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#4584441 - 11/25/17 12:01 PM Re: Understanding TBN in Modern Heavy Duty Engine Oils [Re: bigj_16]
2015_PSD Offline


Registered: 09/26/10
Posts: 7356
Loc: SE Texas
Originally Posted By: bigj_16
Since you're asking, yes, I have seen numerous diesel UOA's with low TBN's.
I have only been checking since 2015, but I daresay that low TBN in a diesel UOA is an exception and not the rule. You may have seen some, I will search again and see what I find.
_________________________
2018 MB AMG GLC43 3.0L Coupe - Castrol 0W-40/Purflux
2018 MB C300 2.0L - M1 0W-40/OEM
2015 F-250 6.7L PS Diesel - Delo 15W-40/CQ Blue
2014 Explorer 3.5L Limited - M1 AFE 0W-20/FU

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#4585072 - 11/25/17 11:57 PM Re: Understanding TBN in Modern Heavy Duty Engine Oils [Re: wemay]
bigj_16 Offline


Registered: 07/03/17
Posts: 1291
Loc: Douglas County, Colorado
I'd say it is the exception, also. I have seen numerous, though. Of course, it was a large database.

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#4585808 - 11/26/17 04:04 PM Re: Understanding TBN in Modern Heavy Duty Engine Oils [Re: wemay]
dnewton3 Offline



Registered: 05/14/07
Posts: 7409
Loc: Indianapolis, IN
It's not a question of a low TBN. (I do think it's not all that common; at least in my data).
The on-the-surface question is do you see low TBN and high wear?
Ummmmmmm .... No.

But, the underlying question is this:
Is there correlation between wear rates and TBN retention?
Absolutely NOT!
_________________________
The act of preventative maintenance, in and of itself, is FAR MORE important than brand/grade/base choices among lubes and filters.
- under maintaining something is akin to abuse/neglect; that can kill equipment by shortening the lifespan
- over maintaining something has never been proven to be anything but a waste of time and money

Top
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