Shell and tube heat exchangers (STHEs) are the most common type of heat exchanger in preheat trains (PHT) of oil refineries and in chemical process plants. Most commercial design software tools for STHE assume uniform distribution over all tubes of a tube bundle. This leads to various challenges in the operation of the affected devices. Flow maldistribution reduces heat duty of STHE in many applications and supports fouling buildup in fluids that tend to particle, bio, and crystallization fouling (Verein Deutscher Ingenieure, ed., 2010, Heat Atlas, 2nd ed., VDI-Buch., Springer-Verlag). In this article, a fluid mechanics study about tube side flow distribution of crude oil and related hydrocarbons in two-pass PHT heat exchangers is described. It is shown that the amount of flow maldistribution varies significantly between the different STHE designs. Therefore, a parameter study was conducted to investigate reasons for maldistribution. For instance, the nozzles diameter, type, and orientation were identified as crucial parameters. In consequence, simple design suggestions for reducing tube side flow maldistribution are proposed.