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Each vehicle manufacturer determines the drain interval on the basis of extended field-testing, statistical data and experience. Intervals mentioned in service bulletins refer to standardized conditions. In reality the recommended drain will often have to be adapted depending on factors, such as engine type and age, service conditions (haul and load), oil quality, fuel quality and consumption, road conditions (hilly or flat), and many others.
Driving in extreme temperatures or on dirty, dusty roads will put high stress on the oil and will shorten the oil drain. Long haul heavy-duty vehicles may reach a drain of up to 100.000 km. The more demanding short-haul operations typical for city transport will shorten the drain interval.
For heavy duty fleets or large industrial equipment there is the possibility of performing used oil analysis. A set of chemical (base number, additive content, etc) and physical tests (viscosity) can give an indication if there is any usable life left in the oil.
Manufacturers continuously work towards a longer oil drain interval. But it is of highest importance to consult manufacturers documentation before taking decisions related to extension of the drain.
Important to know: drain interval is expressed in kilometers or months! Replacing the oil after, for example, 24 months is obligatory, even if the maximum amount of kilometers has not been reached.