Engine oil analysis is a key component of regular maintenance routines. It's a quick and efficient way to test the health of an automobile's engine.
Oil viscosity is the number one factor in determining engine health.
Changing viscosity is a clear indication there is, or will be, a problem with the engine.
Oil analysis identifies problems ahead of time and could save your engine. Reasons for getting it done differ for automobiles and fleets, depending on the circumstances.
Personal Automobile Maintenance
When you own a car, it's appropriate to trust the OEM standard for oil changes in order to make the vehicle last as long as possible.
Leasing a car for personal use still recommends adhering to the OEM standard, but is not always followed as closely since longevity may not be a priority in a lease.
Periodic oil analysis done on your own car can be very beneficial to identify a rising problem.
Discovering such problems before they're fully developed can prevent you from spending thousands on a replacement engine, or a new car altogether. Further, people who regularly participate in towing, racing, or drive a vehicle with more than 100k miles on it will benefit from engine oil analysis the most.
Industrial and Fleet Maintenance
For industrial care, companies want to avoid ever having to change out equipment. Therefore, the timing of oil changes matters the most since machine longevity is a priority.
Fleet maintenance varies slightly based on whether a company is buying or leasing a truck.
A leased truck could include regular oil analysis as part of the lease contract in order to determine proper services are being performed.
Companies that fully purchase trucks want the truck to reach a minimum of one million miles. Therefore, analysis is done regularly to ensure the purchase is worthwhile.
Finding the ideal time to change the oil is key because it will keep the companies aware of any engine issues while allowing them to get the longest possible service life out of lubricants.
Factors in Engine Health
An important element in engine health is the environment.
As is the case with the human body, a diet of unhealthy food and no exercise will have a more negative impact than a diet high in vegetables and exercise.
Similarly, driving on unpaved roads in cold weather will have a more negative impact on an engine than a paved road in a warmer climate. The engine on the unpaved road ingests dirt, resulting in altered viscosity engine health largely depends on what the vehicle is being used for and in what type of environment.
It's important to find the balance between making an investment worthwhile and taking care of the vehicle. Engine oil analysis helps make this possible by allowing owners to catch the wear before it comes.
What a Lubricant Analysis Report Tells Us
As previously stated, viscosity is the most important factor in engine health.
The goal is to avoid rising levels of wear metals in the oil. A change in the oil's viscosity can directly affect wear. A lubricant analysis report identifies possible wear metals including iron, chromium, nickel, and more.
Contaminants are also identified. If the amount of silicon in the oil rises then dirt is being ingested into the engine, connecting back to the importance of assessing the engine's environment.
If water appears in the engine it typically indicates anti-freeze is leaking into the oil. Any sort of fuel dilution is most commonly caused by a bad injector. All of these conditions will directly affect the oil's viscosity which will lead to wear.
How to Analyze Oil
Engine oil analysis acts as a blood test for your engine and can be done by consulting a professional laboratory.
Most labs can test the oil by mailing at least three ounces of it in. Get the sample from your car the next time you're changing your oil, or using a siphon with a dipstick tube.
Labs tend to give results within 24 hours of receiving the sample. Some companies that sell oil analysis kits are Blackstone Laboratories and Polaris Laboratories. Lubricant companies generally offer the services as well.
Overall, an oil analysis is beneficial because it'll tell you how the overall condition of your engine.
You can also find out if you can increase your oil change frequency. Figuring out the best oil change interval could ultimately save time and money.