Tech Tip: Engine Oil for Off-Road Equipment

New Holland MasterGold engine and hydraulic oil

Not all oils are created equal. Time to get informed about what goes in your machine.

Let’s start off with the basics: Not all oils are alike!  There is a wide spectrum of engine and hydraulic oils that vary based on the composition and additive structure.  Manufacturers spend a lot of time creating formulas that work seamlessly with their machine and the conditions it operates in, because let’s face it – off-road equipment is under A LOT more stress than a regular car engine.

How is off-road engine oil different from regular car oil?

It’s different in a few ways: First off, the engine oil formulated for your skid steer loader, wheel loader or backhoe is different from what you put in your Ford truck because of the additive package that helps fight the tough conditions of the job site.  Think about all the dust and debris your machine comes across in a day’s work – your oil helps defend your engine against excessive wear from those environmental conditions.  Second (and this is a little more common sense) engine oil for off-road equipment has to be a lot tougher because of the amount of available horsepower a skid steer uses, which we can understand easily by the 30 – 60 – 90 rule.

What’s the 30 – 60 – 90 rule?

The 30 – 60 – 90 rule is a quick and easy way to understand why your off-road equipment can’t use standard car engine oil.  Here it is: on average, your car uses about 30 percent of available horsepower, a semi-truck uses 60 percent and off-road equipment uses up to 90 percent!  Now it makes sense, right?  You wouldn’t use car oil in a semi-truck and you sure as heck wouldn’t want it in your skid steer loader.

What else do I need to know about oil maintenance?

Shop mechanic checks an oil dipstick on a New Holland backhoe loader

Follow a few simple steps and keep your machine running clean

Draining your oil. Sounds like no fun, right? Well you still need to do it from time to time. Check the maintenance schedule in your operator’s manual and be sure to adhere to it. Draining the system makes sure your oil is fresh (it loses additives over time) and also helps keep contaminant build-up under control.

So keep in mind that oil is what keeps your machine running at peak performance. Trying to buy cheap might save you a few bucks early on, but you run the risk of doing serious damage to your equipment down the line. We recommend buying OEM, but at the very least you need to find an expert who can help you make an informed decision. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to give us a call! Our service and parts guys know their stuff!


Thanks to our friends at Viscosity Oil Company
for providing additional information for this article

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