Why do Oil Analysis?
Oil is like the blood in your body, and just like when a doctor takes a sample to see what's happening inside of you, Oil can tell a similar story. It can tell what's happening inside your engine, transmission, differentials, hydraulics, and other critical components.
Regular oil samples provide a working history of your equipment as well as the condition of your lubricant. With Gearhead Oil Analysis, you can get a look “inside” your equipment and get the story without costly teardowns or unnecessary lubricant changes. It can also tell you when it is time for maintenance before failures and downtime occurs. It will provide peace of mind knowing that your equipment is safe and not wearing out at an excessive rate. Gearhead Oil Analysis has many years of experience testing synthetic and petroleum lubricants. This allows them to provide quality analysis no matter which type of lubricant you use. Be proactive rather than reactive when it comes to protecting your investment.
Oil Analysis can identify the BIG 4 engine killers before it’s too late! Routine testing can tell you where they come from and what they can do to your equipment.
- #1 - Fuel Dilution: When your engine is running, certain amounts of raw, unburned fuel ends up in the crankcase. It lowers oil viscosity, creating friction-related wear almost immediately, and reduces the efficiency of variable valve timing engines. It can also accelerate oil oxidation and reduces the effectiveness of detergent additives. Readings should be less than 5% in Diesel and half that in Gasoline Engines.
- #2 - Soot: Soot is a sign of reduced combustion efficiency and is caused by a number of factors. Over-fueling, plugged air filters or other restrictions, piston ring blow-by, excessive engine brake use, and/or excessive exhaust backpressure and EGR systems. Knowing that a particular engine design creates and retains more of it doesn’t make higher levels acceptable. Alarm limits should remain the same — maintenance practices should change. Readings below 5% are acceptable.
- #3 - Coolant/Water: To keep your engine cool, Coolant flows all around the cylinders inside your engine block as well as other components. If there is coolant in your oil it can cause major wear and corrosion throughout your entire engine including bearings, bushings, pistons, liners, cams, valves, chains, and gears. It usually enters the oiling system through a broken head gasket, cracked cylinder head or block, faulty water pump, or oil cooler. Common Coolants contain Glycols and Water. Readings should be less than 1% for Glycol and 0.2% for Water.
- #4 - Contaminants: Your engine sucks in lots of fuel and air to get you down the road or track. While the fuel and intake systems are designed to filter out contaminants, they can still get in and the engine can make even more. Contaminants from the air such as dust, pollen, and ash can get past your air filter and make their way into your oiling system, past rings, and seals. These microscopic contaminants are detected first by the high presence of silicon and aluminum in your oil. It causes wear most rapidly in components made of iron, lead, copper, and tin, such as pistons, bearings, and liners. As these components wear, they too send contaminants through your engine. Larger particles are trapped in your oil filter, but smaller ones can continue to flow and in turn cause more wear. Keep an eye on these wear metals and contaminants in your oil to avoid serious problems.
Gearhead Oil Analysis Kit Includes:
- Clear Oil Sample Bottle
- Oil Sample Information Label
- White Containment Bottle
- Pre-Paid Postal Bag.
Within 1 week of Gearhead Receiving the Oil Sample, you will receive an email from them with your Oil Analysis Report and any comments the Tech might have about your sample. An example of the report you will receive is below.
Standard Test Results will include:
- All Wear Metals (Iron, Chrome, Nickel, Molybdenum, Aluminium, Lead, Copper, Tin, Silver, and Titanium)
- Contaminants (Silicon and Sodium)
- All Common Additives (Calcium, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Zinc, ZDDP, Barium, and Boron)
- Viscosity @ 100°C
- Fuel Dilution %
- Soot %
- Glycol %
- Water by Crackle %
- Total Base Number (TBN)
- Oxidation / Nitration
Also included are LaserNet Fines Results:
- Particles >4μm
- Particles >6μm
- Particles >14μm
- Cutting Particles per/ml
- Sliding Particles per/ml
- Fatigue Particles per/ml
- Non-Metallic Particles per/ml
- Fiber Count
The Proper Way to Collect an Oil Sample
Proper oil sampling is very important to get an accurate oil analysis report.
Without a proper sample, your test can be inaccurate and misleading.
First, You must take the sample at or close to operating temperature. (Yes, HOT!) Ideally, after a short drive to get to temperature, and quickly after turning the engine off. This way any wear metals, moisture, fuel, and other contaminants will still be in suspension and you will be able to get the full picture and condition of your oiling systems.
Second, you can take a sample in several ways. Either from the drain plug or from the fill plug or dipstick tube using a clean oil sample extraction pump.
- Drain Plug Method: Place drain pan under the plug. Loosen the drain plug so it can be removed from the last few threads by hand. Have the oil sample bottle open and ready in one hand and remove the drain plug with the other hand. Let the oil drain for 2-3 seconds and then put the oil sample bottle under the stream of oil to collect the sample. When the bottle is full to the bottom of the threaded neck, reinstall the oil drain plug. Install the oil sample bottle cap tightly. (An EZ Oil Drain Valve makes this super easy!)
- Fill Hole or Dipstick Method: Try to guestimate distance from the hole to the bottom of the oil pan. Feed collection tube into the hole/tube until you feel that it is bottomed out in the pan. Make sure you are not being stopped by anything and it is all the way to the bottom of the pan and close to your guestimation. Then retract the collection tube an inch or two from the bottom. Collect your sample and fill the bottle to the bottom of the threaded neck and thread on the cap tightly.
Once you have collected your oil sample, fill out the included sample label with as much information possible including your Name, Contact Phone #, and Email Address. This will be the only way Gearhead will know who to contact with your report. Apply the sample information label to the Clear Oil Sample Bottle and put it inside the White Containment bottle with the cap installed tightly. Put your return address on the supplied Pre-Paid Postal bag and insert the White Containment bottle in the bag. If there is any other extra information needed to be sent with the sample that was not on the sample label, include it inside the bag and seal it up.
Then simply add it to your outgoing USPS mail.
Within 1 week of Gearhead Receiving the Oil Sample, you will receive an email from them with your Oil Analysis Report and any comments the Lab Tech might have about your sample. An example of the 3-page report you will receive is below.