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West Peterson

I'd like your thoughts on oil analysis

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Does anyone ever have their oil analyzed for metal particles (collector car or otherwise)?

If you've had it done, what is gained in knowing?

Is this something that only owner's of high-end cars with impossible to replace engines would find beneficial?

Would it need to be done regularly, so as to monitor a change?

Thanks for your thoughts.

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I have never had it done but the reason that it is done is to know how long you can go without an oil change. Many times changing the oil every 3k to 5k is a waste. It really depends on your driving conditions and geographical area. I know of people that have had their oil analyzed at 5k mile and it was found to still be good. It is also done on a lot of diesel engines, especially marine, as part of the pre-purchase inspection. It supposedly reveals a lot about how the engine was maintained.

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We did it routinely on our aircraft engines. The value comes from comparative analysis against the engines ongoing base line numbers. What you are looking for isn't so much the presence of metal but a change or large increase. For example if a certain metal's signature spikes it shows not only abnormal wear but what is likely wearing. For a multi-million dollar jet engine you are depending on the cost is well worth while. For a car not so much...........bob

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Oil analysis is typically done with fleets, or really big engines, such as marine and rail-road locomotives, where crankcase capacity is measured in gallons and using the oil until it is "worn-out" is a more feasible economic model than it would be for someone running an automobile with a crankcase capacity between one and three gallons.

(They do change the filters on a regular schedule...)

In addition to checking for particles, they also are checking for depletion of additives (anti-wear, anti-corrosion), water content, diminished lubricating qualities.

I can appreciate the point of view of protecting a rare or irreplaceable engine (say a Marmon 16), but the expense of testing might exceed that of oil & filter changes... ?

I wonder if Jay Leno has explored this issue...

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We did it routinely on our aircraft engines. The value comes from comparative analysis against the engines ongoing base line numbers. What you are looking for isn't so much the presence of metal but a change or large increase. For example if a certain metal's signature spikes it shows not only abnormal wear but what is likely wearing. For a multi-million dollar jet engine you are depending on the cost is well worth while. For a car not so much...........bob

________________________________________________________________________

X2 on that Bob, We did that in the Navy too. In addition our engines were equipped with chip lights. Samples of fuel and oil always done every seven day calendar inspections.

Don

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Having been involved in fleet maintenance during the first half of my working career, I am a firm believer in doing it. Every oil change, no, unless you saw something suspicious in the prior sampling. Depending on the mileage driven, once a year at the most, most collector cars every few years would be adequate. Most companies that do it will send you a very detailed report showing what and where each item on it pertains to your engine.

Personally, I drive my truck about 30k a year. I do one sample a year normally. Last sample showed excess fuel in the oil. Found two leaking fuel injectors.

You can get a sampling kit from any Wix jobber, Carquest, NAPA, or O'Reilley dealer. The Wix # is 24078. I alternately use Wix and Blackstone Labs Blackstone Labs

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Oil analysis can be good to do for general principles, sometimes . . . just to know what you've got. As mentioned, many high-mileage fleets (think trucks and delivery vehicles) do it as a matter of course to find when the oil's "TBN" (total base number) gets down to about "2", of almost ready to become acidic.

The other reason is to see what additive package the particular oil has when new, and then when it's been in the engine for a while. For massive amounts of this information, see . . .

- Bob is the Oil Guy Once in "Forums", click on "Virgin Oil Analysis", along with "Used OIl Analysis". Many forum members have posted oil analysis reports from (for that forum) Blackstone Labs, but you can probably take your oil to any Catepillar dealer and they can get it done for you there . . . not sure what the price is, though. LOTS of information in those oil analysis postings!!!

Motor oil analysis is more in the fleet/off-road machinery realm of things than in "street cars". But, it can also detect things before they can become "issues", like coolant leaks inside the motor. If done with some frequency, you can also look for "wear metals" increasing with mileage. Not all engines "beat up" the additives and deplete them at similar rates. It was noted that the 10K oil change interval for the GM/Isuzu Duramax was just fine, even on normal motor oil, as the TBN and such were still good and useable with 10K on the oil change.

Just some thoughts,

NTX5467

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Thanks to all for the information. This is something I never knew about. Probably because all I've been involved with are family cars.

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I have used Blackstone Labs for 4 or 5 years. I get my diesel truck done every other oil change and the wife's gas car every year to 18 months. They give a very detailed report on what they find and explain it. They also compare it to other similar engines if they have enough data to use. I highly recommend it to find out what is going on inside the engine. Costs around $25, they will send you the kits for free.

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Many forum members have posted oil analysis reports from (for that forum) Blackstone Labs, but you can probably take your oil to any Catepillar dealer and they can get it done for you there . . . not sure what the price is, though. LOTS of information in those oil analysis postings!!!

NTX5467

More than likely the "Clatterpillar" lab of choice will not have comparable vehicles, in their database, of the type most of us have, and will not be able to give a normal range.

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I used to run a Caterpillar oil sampling laboratory and I agree with BhigDog. What is looked for is a spike in readings and beyond that is best done by comparing similar engines in similar applications. With Cat, it is ideal as they have a huge history of every engine in every application so you can pick up an engine that is reading above average quite easily. It is then up to the skill of the technician to establish where or what the contamination is coming from. With a one-off engine, like your car West, it would take quite some time and mileage to develop a "library of information" and I don't think you'll ever do enough miles to get a huge benefit from it. However, it can't do any harm, if you have the money ! :D

Regards

Al

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I have used Blackstone Labs for 4 or 5 years. I get my diesel truck done every other oil change and the wife's gas car every year to 18 months. They give a very detailed report on what they find and explain it. They also compare it to other similar engines if they have enough data to use. I highly recommend it to find out what is going on inside the engine. Costs around $25, they will send you the kits for free.

I also use Blackstone for cars that I maintain for clients and highly recommend them.

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Used to tAKE samples on Cat and other equipment, including army tanks. the analysis is so accurate that, as mentioned, any bearing material showing prematurewear can be accurately pinpointed due to alloy composition. The presence of some substances can cause a preventive maintenance action that will make the cost of the sampling near meaningless. The analysis not only will show bearing wear, but can tell the difference if it is a turbocharger bearing or a main, if antifreeze is present...or if somehow dirt (silicon) is being introduced. I did not think, back in my time, that the analysis was done to adjust oil change intervals which is usually done according to manufacturer's recommendations, anyway. I will say my examples are far from comprehensive...that oil reads your engine like a history book if you know how to interpret it. If I had a rare vintage engine that I liked to run, I would do this on occasion, depending on circumstances.

Perry

Perry

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I was once an oiler in a pulp mill that ran 24-7.

I was the one that collected the oil samples from critical machinery such as the turbine generator, (8-10 million to replace), boiler feed water pumps, (if they quit the power boiler blows, killing everybody.),.. and many other pumps and gear boxes, as big as your house.

We usually looked for water, oxygen, and metal particles in order to tell the "health" of the machine's internals, and the oil in order to schedule planned shut downs.

We would analyze our personal car and truck's oil but we never saw anything that would really be of use except for someone's automatic transmission that was already failing.

I never said I was a Tribologist.

Bill H

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Great information. Thanks.

Would it be beneficial to have a reading on a car with high mileage? Not having a base line or previous reading would having an oil analysis help you with when to trade the old daily driver in and look for another? I drive about 100 miles a day on an 05 Kia. Change oil every 3.5K. use 5W-30 and never have to add between changes. Car runs great and other than tires, filters, fluids, and fuel I haven't done too much. Got 145K on it and wanted to keep it till fall 2012. My wifes car will be paid for then and I don't want to join the 'book of the month' club till then.

Any thoughts?

thanks

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Your engine is only part of the equation. I wanted to keep my 132,000 mile Durango another year or two. It didn't use any oil between changes. Last inspection it needed new pads and rotors all around, new emergency brake shoes, ball joints would maybe go one more inspection, the rear was getting noisy, I suspect a pinion bearing, and trans was getting kind of shifty, if you know what mean, and it had an exterior water leak that nobody could find.

I'm now driving a new Grand Cherokee. I like it a lot so far..........Bob

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Your engine is only part of the equation. I wanted to keep my 132,000 mile Durango another year or two. It didn't use any oil between changes. Last inspection it needed new pads and rotors all around, new emergency brake shoes, ball joints would maybe go one more inspection, the rear was getting noisy, I suspect a pinion bearing, and trans was getting kind of shifty, if you know what mean, and it had an exterior water leak that nobody could find.

I'm now driving a new Grand Cherokee. I like it a lot so far..........Bob

I'd be seriously worrying about any engine that didn't use around a cup to a pint of oil between changes.

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I've had gasoline engines in cars that made it over 300,000 miles without ever having an oil analysis done. Probably unnecessary if one frequently pulls the dip stick and changes oil regularly within original manufacturers recommendations.

Logic: looking at the oil and the dipstick will quickly tell one if there is a problem with moisture in the crankcase or if the oil is full of crap from some source. What it won't tell one is now much acid has built up, though I have seen terrible milky crud on a dipstick that would tend to indicate water and acid together combined with other impurities.

Acids are probably one of the worst enemies of an engine and if you've ever torn down an engine to find the piston skirts look like a beaver has been chewing on them you know what I'm talking about.

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I forgot about all the brake pads, rotors I've had to put on. I guess I'm looking for the crystal ball that will tell me when the engine has had enough. When I worked in a machine shop during high school and college we did alot of valve jobs and some engine rebuilding. I've seen the crud your talking about.

The underside of the oil fill cap doesn't show any evidence of water in the crankcase, nor does the dip stick.

Sometimes maybe it better NOT to know on a car that has this many miles on it. I'll save the testing for my BUICK.

thanks and Happy Holidays to all.

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I'd be seriously worrying about any engine that didn't use around a cup to a pint of oil between changes.

Let me rephrase my statement. It would be more correct to say I didn't have to add oil between changes.............Bob

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Good Question,

Many of the Dodge, Cumming Ram pickup Turbo Diesel guys do it, especially when running synthetic engine oils. where an oil change 40-60 dollars doing yourself, saying that I run synthetic and change it every 10,000 miles, I hear guys going 20,000 and more and still getting oil "ok" reports back front the $20 service charge people.

I love the Packard but would not put synthetic in it, to hard on the seals. Maybe consider after I retire and start driving it more.

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I can see it maybe being worthwhile for a rare, high end car where major engine parts would have to be reverse engineered (and manufactured) if a replacement were needed. This assumes you could develop a meaningful baseline over a series of oil changes and then look for signs of major change which might indicate impending failure. Catching a bad rod bearing before the rod lets go could save an engine block...

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I can see it maybe being worthwhile for a rare, high end car where major engine parts would have to be reverse engineered (and manufactured) if a replacement were needed. This assumes you could develop a meaningful baseline over a series of oil changes and then look for signs of major change which might indicate impending failure. Catching a bad rod bearing before the rod lets go could save an engine block...

Major labs will have a worthwhile base line on engine type, maybe not the marque though.

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