Joel Morrow is using his Purple Haze Volvo VNL as a test bed to see just how far he can push diesel engine oil drain intervals.  -  Photo: Joel Morrow

Joel Morrow is using his Purple Haze Volvo VNL as a test bed to see just how far he can push diesel engine oil drain intervals.

Photo: Joel Morrow

Joel Morrow wants to get down to one oil change per year — and he’s set his sights on 200,000 miles to get there.

A self-professed engineering geek, Morrow has made a name for himself as a social media “influencer,” pushing the envelope of Class 8 diesel performance and fuel efficiency. He’s worked closely with Volvo on several cutting-edge engineering initiatives.

He's been doing this for years with Ploger Transportation, his family-owned small over-the-road fleet. Now he’s driving for himself and using his "Purple Haze" Volvo VNL to further push the envelope.

“At Ploger, we continually pushed out our drain intervals over 10 years and never had an oil-related engine failure,” Morrow says. “Now, I’m using oil analysis to track the oil’s depleted base and oxidation levels, so I always know what’s going on in the engine as I push those intervals out even further.”

Morrow also is using oil additives to replenish the engine oil before a change is necessary. 

“I’m using Hot Shot oil additive when an analysis tells me the oil base is getting low,” he explains, and to help with oxidation, especially in summer months and hot climates.

"Hotter oil is also a factor with today’s downsped powertrains," he says. "I’m currently cruising at 850 rpm — which is great for fuel efficiency, but hard on oil.”

A bypass oil filter and a high-capacity oil pan give him an extra 5 gallons of oil, which Morrow says also helps with oil oxidation.

Running engine oil meeting Volvo’s VDS-5 standard, Morrow adds to the base every 90 to 120 days. He religiously sends in oil samples to see how it’s holding up in the meantime.

“Using both, I’ve been able to keep both the base and the oxidation levels wherever I want,” he says. “They never move once I figured out when to replenish them.”

Morrow is working closely with his engine maker and oil supplier and documenting everything he does. 

“When you start talking about doing this sort of thing in terms of warranties, you don’t want anything to get too funky,” he says. “But we’re at 100,000 miles without a change on Purple Haze now. We’ve got really good oil samples, and we’ll be doing the same program with another truck coming on in the spring.”

Morrow thinks he's well on his way to his one-oil-change goal of 200,000-mile drain intervals. “I think I’m going to make that with no problem.”

About the author
Jack Roberts

Jack Roberts

Executive Editor

Jack Roberts is known for reporting on advanced technology, such as intelligent drivetrains and autonomous vehicles. A commercial driver’s license holder, he also does test drives of new equipment and covers topics such as maintenance, fuel economy, vocational and medium-duty trucks and tires.

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