The Top Three Issues Oil Analysis Uncovers

Find And Solve Engine Issues Before They Become Expensive Problems.


We’ve all heard the famous axiom: An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. It’s especially true when it comes to vehicle maintenance, and few tools are more effective than used oil analysis. While oil analysis can identify all kinds of potential issues, I want to focus on the top three things we usually find and how it can help you save time and money.

Coolant Contamination
Cooling-system problems account for up to 40 percent of all engine failures. Unfortunately, the cooling system is often neglected since coolant doesn’t require maintenance as often as motor oil or other lubricants.

Coolant can contaminate the motor oil due to a number of problems, such as a bad head gasket, a faulty oil cooler or oil-cooler gaskets, or a cracked block or cylinder. In the case of a cracked block or cylinder, you’re probably going to discover the issue pretty quickly. That’s not necessarily the case with a leaking head gasket or bad oil cooler. In these cases, coolant can infiltrate the oil slowly and imperceptibly. You may check the coolant reservoir and oil regularly without noticing anything abnormal.

That’s the beauty of oil analysis; it sees what your eyes miss. Regularly taking oil samples as part of an oil-analysis program provides ample opportunity to spot coolant contamination. The maintenance manager can pull the vehicle from service and investigate the problem before the engine fails. I don’t know a single business owner who’d rather reactively send out a tow truck and have a vehicle fixed than prepare for it beforehand.

Excessive Wear Metals

Everything eventually wears out, but we can dramatically slow engine wear with superior lubricants and proper maintenance,

Here again, oil analysis helps spot issues before they morph into expensive problems. Regularly testing engine oil or other lubricants allows the maintenance manager to establish historic trends against which to compare future lubricant samples, This allows him to ensure normal wear metals, such as iron, aluminum and lead, follow historic trends with no abrupt spikes. If a report comes back with an alarmingly high lead level, for example, it may point to a main bearing wearing out. Abnormally high silicon might be a sign of a faulty air intake that’s letting dirt infiltrate the engine.

This information provides time to investigate the issue and make the required repairs before it becomes a full-blown problem.

Fuel Dilution

This is another common issue oil analysis often uncovers. Fuel dilution occurs when gasoline or diesel fuel washes past the piston rings and contaminates the oil in the crankcase. Excessive fuel can reduce the oil viscosity to the point where it cannot support the load in the engine or build a sufficient film to keep parts separated. Oil that has lost viscosity fails to provide adequate wear protection. In extreme cases, it can also create varnish and sludge that can clog tiny oil passages, like those found in variable-valve-timing solenoids, causing engine problems.

Several factors cause fuel dilution, like excessive idling, frequent short trips or leaking fuel injectors. It can also be characteristic of some engines, particularly turbocharged direct-injection (TDI) engines. In fact, we’ve seen a rise in cases of fuel dilution the past few years as TDI engines gain widespread use among automakers looking for every fuel-economy gain they can find.

I’ve said it already, but I’ll say it again – oil analysis can identify fuel dilution and help managers plan a solution before it claims the engine. Regular reports allow users to establish a “normal” level of fuel dilution for the engine. Samples that deviate from acceptable historic levels indicate it’s time to take action.

These are just three issues oil analysis can help solve. It’s also the best way to maximize oil-change intervals and ensure you’re getting every possible mile or hour out of your oil. If you haven’t already, talk about the benefits of oil analysis with your AMSOIL Dealer. Use it as a tool in your vehicle and equipment maintenance to reduce downtime and assist you in getting the longest service life out of your equipment.

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SLS Notes:

The following is a copy of oil analysis reports for a customer with a Ford F-350 with the 7.3 Turbo Diesel. Vehicle was using AMSOIL AME 15w40 Synthetic Heavy-Duty Diesel and Marine Diesel Engine Oil (for pre 2007 Diesels) and the AMSOIL EaO99 Full Flow Oil Filter.

The Full Flow Filter was changed and a sample taken roughly every 6 months. Make-up oil was added to replace what was lost in the filter change. (Approx. 1.5 qts.)

The customer began using AMSOIL with about 95,000 miles on the truck and at the last analysis shown below had over 132,000 miles without an oil change and the oil was still testing ok for continued use.

Because the truck was used for towing a 5th wheel camper, the owner installed a larger oil cooler at about the half way point which probably accounts for the increased copper reading.

While AMSOIL has even better diesel oils for the newer generation of diesel engines, you should still do oil analysis if you are planning on extending drain intervals beyond the manufacturers recommended intervals. (It’s probably a good idea to do oil analysis every year or so even if you aren’t extending oil drain intervals just to keep an eye on what’s happening with your engine. Oil analysis is cheap insurance compared to the cost of a diesel engine failure.

If you would like more information on Oil Analysis, check out the Oil Analyzers site. To purchase Oil Analysis Test Kits check with SLS Associates or go directly to the AMSOIL Site for Oil Analysis Kits.

The Postage Pre-Paid kits are convenient but the Non Postage Paid kits will save you money as normal USPS postage is usually about $5.00 to $6.00. (March 2023)

If you can’t read the above Oil Analysis Report, e-Mail a request for the .pdf copy.

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