Oil Analysis & Fluid Test Kits
Oil Analysis will save you money. AMSOIL’s oil analysis kits are easy to use and results are quick and interactive.
Oil Analysis is the means for reducing costs by eliminating scheduled maintenance for performing maintenance based as needed. This not only supports the fleet customer but the individual driver as well. Oil analysis is the next step we at The Synthetic Warehouse recommend to further improve your maintenance program.
One of our accounts recently prevented a major yet common cam shaft failure as our analysis caught an exceeding wear metal in the oil indicating needed service which scheduled maintenance wouldn’t have solved.
Oil analysis is also recommended for our customers who use our by-pass filtration kits to monitor and indicate the best time to change filters or change oil.
Sampling oil is easy, low cost, fast and convenient. We provide simple test kits which one can test used oil drained, oil pulled from a current sample via dipstick tube pump or oil bypass filter drain.
AMSOIL uses a third party testing lab located in Salt Lake City, Houston and Indianapolis. These labs perform tests per AMSOIL’s unique perimeters.
Please call us to include an Oil Analysis kit in your order. The best thing to do is analyze your old oil on the way out so you can be sure everything is in top shape. Those selling their vehicle or buying one may find this an invaluable service.
These Oil Analysis Reports include Summary & Recommendations, Elemental Analysis, Test Data and warning flags.
Start here with our brochure on Fluid Analysis – Everything you need on Oil Sampling improving accuracy of the sample.
Sampling Kit Packaging/quantities include (click to order):
(or call for best price 1-800-579-0580)
New! Value kit – Simple answer – Is the oil still good for continuous use? (Actually I sent one in to see the results and I got the full blown analysis for almost 40% less cost!!
KIT-01 Oil Analyzers Test Kit: (1) Kit – Postage Pre-Paid
KIT-02 Oil Analyzers Test Kit: (1) Kit – UPS Pre-Paid (best selling option)
KIT06 Oil Analyzers Test Kit: (1) Kit – Non Postage Paid
KIT09 Coolant Testing: (1) Kit – UPS
KIT10 Diesel Fuel Contamination Test: (1) Kit
KIT11 Diesel Fuel Performance Test: (1) Kit
KIT12 Winter Diesel Fuel Package: (1) Kit
KIT13 Winter Diesel Fuel Package Plus: (1) Kit
Note: Sampling Pump and Hose are sold separately (G1206)
but the pump does come with hose for a single use.
The Sampling Process
A single sampling analysis is useful in providing information when critical failure conditions exist. However, trend analysis is a better tool for estimating the useful life or overall condition of your engine or equipment. Trend analysis samples are taken and analyzed at regularly scheduled intervals. Comparing the most recent analysis to previous reports on a given machine shows the development of trends. Monitoring these trends enables early detection of internal abnormalities. Tested values falling within acceptable limits may show a pattern of subtle variance, which could signal a developing problem.
Machines of the same type will accumulate contaminants and wear at different rates. Performing trend analysis on each machine is the most effective method of giving you an internal look at your equipment and enabling you to deal with developing problems before they become catastrophic situations.
The frequency of sample analysis from your equipment depends on the machine type, machine application and condition, operating environment and other variables. For example, many machines that operate in harsh environments, such as heavy equipment in mining or construction, require short oil sampling intervals – every 100 to 300 operating hours. However, certain power transmission systems, such as gearboxes and hydraulic systems used inside manufacturing and production facilities, require no more than quarterly sampling intervals. The following table lists generic sampling frequencies for common equipment types, and is provided as a guideline only. Additional information is available from Oil Analyzers Inc., your lubricant supplier, and the equipment manufacturer.
Collecting a clean and representative oil sample is critical to the oil analysis process. Put simply, an oil analysis is only as good as the sample taken. The accuracy and reliability of the data produced by an analysis hinges on receiving a representative sample from the equipment to be tested. To assure that the sample extracted is representative of the system, always follow proper sampling procedures.
Oil Analysis Blog – Making Sense of Used-Oil Report
Analysis of used oil provides insights into the health of the oil and filters as well as the equipment. While the benefits of analysis are clear, making sense of the report you receive can be a challenge. Unpacking the elements of a typical report is a great way to improve clarity.
Each oil analysis lab has a slightly different report layout and you should check with your analysis lab if you have questions specific to your report as they may not follow the exact order or explanations below.
Garbage in, garbage out
Getting the most out of your oil analysis reports starts with your sampling process. Oil analysis is a data-driven process that requires a set of data points over time to provide insights. Establishing a trend usually requires a minimum of three samples, and consistency is important. For best results, take samples…
- Under normal conditions or immediately after shutdown while at operating temperature
- At regularly scheduled intervals
- From the same sampling point within the engine
Most reports are divided into five major sections: (1) Comments, (2) Wear Metals, (3) Contaminants, (4) Additive Metals and (5) Viscosity, Contaminants & Degradation.
Most capable oil analysis labs have data analysts on staff to explain the results and, if necessary, make recommendations to rectify significant changes in the lubricant or the engine condition. Starting first with the comments section provides a road map to understanding the rest of the report.
Wear metals are measured in parts per million (ppm). The source of these particles in most cases is related to engine-component wear. Results from wear metals can indicate if components in the engine are operating in a normal state, nearing failure or have already failed.
Common wear metals include iron, chromium, nickel, aluminum, copper, lead, tin, cadmium, silver and vanadium.
Knowledge of the conditions in which the vehicle is operating can help explain varying levels of contaminants. Excessive levels of dust and dirt commonly show up in this category and can lead to accelerated wear.
Common contaminants include silicon, sodium and potassium.
Many of these metals are components within the oil’s additive technology. Molybdenum, antimony and boron are additives in some oils. Magnesium, calcium and barium are often used in detergent/dispersant additives. Phosphorous and zinc are used in anti-wear additives. Decreases in these metals can be an indicator that the oil’s capacity to protect is also diminishing.
Viscosity, Contaminants & Degradation
This section of the analysis shows changes in viscosity; common contaminants such as fuel, water and soot; as well as the degradation of the oil’s ability to neutralize acids. The following chart shows general guidelines for the respective attributes:
OIL ANALYSIS Q&A
Change Maintenance Practices – Not Alarm Limits – to Effectively Monitor Soot Levels in EGR Engines
The growing popularity of EGR (exhaust gas recirculation) engines has raised the question, “What is an acceptable level of soot?” and if I can expect a higher level of soot in an EGR engine, “Then why not raise the oil analysis alarm limit?”
Soot is soot. 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.
Utilizing enhanced additive packages with more efficient dispersants and closely monitoring the condition of the oil between oil changes to determine optimum drain intervals is the better solution. Unlike gasoline engines, fuel in a diesel engine is injected during the compression stroke. The high pressure ignites the fuel immediately allowing it no time to properly mix with air. Combustion is
incomplete and soot is created. Engine designs of the past expelled most of the soot created by inefficient fuel combustion through the exhaust, but EGR engines recirculate exhaust gases back into the cylinder at a lower temperature to reduce NOx emission. Retarding ignition timing and reducing the amount of oxygen in the cylinder produces less NOx but inhibits combustion and creates excess soot.
If not adequately dispersed within the oil, soot particles begin to agglomerate, or gather into clusters increasing viscosity and allowing deposits to form on metal surfaces. Thick, sooty oil can plug filters and increase operating temperatures which can cause lubrication starvation and ultimately, metal on metal contact. The soot then becomes a harsh abrasive that accelerates wear in cylinder liners, rings, piston
skirts, journal bearings and valve trains.
The below article shows how some of the largest fleets in existence have taken advantage of using oil analysis to predict maintenance rather than the most expensive method aside from waiting till something breaks or “OEM” scheduled maintenance.
Here you will see having a large fleet with a central control limits the product quality available for the whole fleet to use. The below example shows a state which buys a lower quality oil in bulk, then tries balance failures yet keep maintenance costs low.
These bulk oil distributors have no interest in working with the fleets AMSOIL is perfect for – 2 to 40 vehicles or equipment. Your fleet when using oil analysis combined with AMSOIL products may reach intervals three times what is possible with a product such as Delvac 1300 15W40, plus with the flexibility of using lower viscosities and bypass filtration one could reduce fuel costs, wear and time spent on maintenance even further. Be sure to see our results in refuse trucks which see more stress than most other vehicles on the road.
OILING THE OLD DOMINION
Can an entire state single-source its lubes? Virginia does.
BY DAVID MCFALL
At 44,774 square miles, the Common – wealth of Virginia ranks 35th among the United States by size, with 95 counties, 39 independent cities and nearly 8 million residents. Yet it has the country’s third-largest state transportation system (after Texas and North Carolina) and fields a fleet of over 15,000 vehicles and machines, points out Carlton (Carl) Stevens of the Virginia Department of Transportation.
VDOT works its equipment hard, plowing snow, spreading salt and deicing chemicals, fixing potholes, clearing downed trees, responding to floods, digging, hauling, grading, paving and doing whatever it takes to service the state’s 160,097 miles of paved roads. Operations are divided into nine districts, one of which is the 10-county Lynchburg District at the heart of the state where Stevens serves as equipment fleet manager.
Unusual for a state-owned fleet, the engines in all of VDOT’s rolling stock (except some 4-wheel-drive utility and gasoline-powered vehicles) are lubricated with a single product: Mobil Delvac 1300 Super, an SAE 15W-40 CI-4 Plus diesel engine oil. In fact, from hydraulic oils to transmission fluids to gear oils and beyond, ExxonMobil has been VDOT’s sole source for lubricants since 2007. How did it earn this preferred position? For insight, Lubes’n’Greases visited Carl Stevens in Lynchburg, about an hour west of Richmond.
Since joining VDOT in 1995, Stevens has introduced and championed change in his district and statewide. Having spent 16 years in the automotive parts supply business, he understands the issues, and has ideas on how to incorporate the best private-sector practices into this public-sector maintenance facility. And with over 830 pieces of equipment worth over $38 million under Lynchburg’s care, Stevens takes lubrication very seriously.
He started by establishing five levels of maintenance at Lynchburg, each with its own focus, strategy and action. Stevens described these in a presentation to the STLE annual meeting in 2009. The lowest, most inefficient level is simple breakdown maintenance, or “putting out fires.” It’s costly, unscheduled and reactive.
Next is scheduled maintenance, “typically on an overly conservative schedule set by the equipment manufacturer,” says Stevens. It’s better than running machines to failure, but still costly.
Level III is preventive maintenance, “the cornerstone of the maintenance program, if done properly.” The goal here is to replace parts prior to failure so unscheduled work is minimized. But users also can begin to incorporate tools such as oil sampling, diagnostic checks, data collection and root-cause analysis to control their costs and preserve assets.
At Level IV, you’ve reached Condition Based Monitoring. “Now you’re using data like oil samples to show trends, and can apply early-detection techniques,” explains Stevens. Oil analysis results, for example, can be sorted by make, model, year and system, to get a deeper view of the fleet’s health.
Level V is the holy grail: Predictive Maintenance. At this stage, Stevens says wryly, “In God we trust, everyone else brings data.” With Predictive Maintenance, data is mined to show underlying trends, and life-cycle costs can be pinpointed to support future decisions.
This focus on using data to drive decisions, and oil analysis to track equipment health, have paid off impressively. Lynchburg’s annual parts expenditure dropped from $1.4 million in 2004 to $964,000 in 2009. Chassis repair hours went from 3,488 to 1,869, and overall engine repair hours fell from 3,979 to 1,959 in that time period. Other maintenance measures also declined, with the exception of hours devoted to preventive maintenance, which rose from 4,503 to 4,971 — an excellent trade-off.
Drilling into Oil
Lynchburg began using fluid analysis to monitor equipment health in 2003, so it now has almost eight years of trending data. Every truck, for example, has its engine oil sampled every 6,000 miles; other equipment is sampled after a set number of usage hours.
“About half of Virginia’s nine maintenance districts do fluid analysis or are gearing up to do it, although we’re the most advanced,” Stevens notes, adding, “Our test battery includes analysis on condition, contaminants and wear particles. Any elevated levels of those categories in the fluid is instantly spotted and action taken. Testing is a critical management tool.”
This drilling into oil condition saves time and money, he notes. “Our tractors are heavily used in the summer. Recently, we sent out a routine oil sample from a relatively new Ford New Holland tractor and it came back code-red; high level of silicon. Previous samples were OK. Right away we sent out another sample. Same result. Clearly dirt was being ingested.
“Our technicians checked everything, found nothing and sent it out mowing again with new oil. New sample, same result. We changed the oil again and after a short period sampled it again, same dirty oil. Turns out that the bottom of the filter housing had a small crack in it and every time we tightened the top wing-nut it would slightly spread that crack and suck up dirt into the housing, the lubricant and the engine.
“If we hadn’t sampled that oil that motor would have been trashed. There was no way for us to spot this physical defect except through oil analysis; otherwise we would have driven the tractor until the engine failed. A new engine costs about $9,000 plus labor. Those savings alone made a big dent in our annual sampling program costs for the district. It’s a real-time example of the huge benefits of an oil analysis program.”
A Door Opens
Soon after the oil sampling program began, an even bigger opportunity arose for shaking up the district’s use of lubricants. In 2005, statewide VDOT supply procurement, including all lubricants, was outsourced to a single private contractor, Mancon Consulting of Virginia Beach. Mancon employees now staff and manage VDOT supply warehouses around the state, and it procures all lubricants on VDOT’s behalf.
When this door opened for modifying Lynchburg’s lubricant purchasing practice, Stevens walked — or rather sprinted — through it. He turned to Richmond-based Ed Myers, an ExxonMobil lubrication engineer. Myers spent weeks evaluating VDOT’s requirements, working from a massive print-out listing each of the agency’s 10,000-plus vehicles and their engines, transmissions, differentials, hydraulics. He prepared a nine-page, color-coded summary of their lubricant needs, showing how Mobil could fulfill them all.
Up to then, the state had been purchasing 120 separate lubricants representing 48 different brands, but Myers found that the majority of VDOT’s equipment, except for a dwindling few pieces, could be protected by just 16 Mobil products. This detailed lubricants survey was the key to streamlining VDOT’s lubricant function, and was followed by a successful bid to supply the state’s needs through Mancon.
“The survey pointed out that handling duplicate brands resulted in us carrying a large excess inventory and being caught up in unnecessary purchasing complexity,” says Stevens. “A half-decade of inventorying just 16 lubricants from a single provider, on the other hand, has reduced inventory costs, minimized misapplication and streamlined invoicing.”
The survey continues to be useful, too. Erle Potter, a 40-year VDOT employee and currently its state equipment manager, told Lubes’n’Greases, “ExxonMobil’s cross-reference chart of lubricants and various types of VDOT equipment allows technicians to easily identify which lubricant products are required in the various components of VDOT’s wide variety of vehicles and equipment.” Carl Stevens, whose supply room once had stocked those 120 products, strongly concurs.
The volume of lubricants sold to VDOT is not small potatoes: roughly 75,000 gallons annually. ExxonMobil’s comprehensive audit of VDOT’s needs gave it a leg up in the race to supply these gallons, but it regularly must rebid against other suppliers to keep the business. So far, it has prevailed and Mancon, the statewide supply contractor, continues to purchase Mobil lubricants from 23 distributors in the state. Virginia does not have a formal contract with ExxonMobil, however; its contractor is Mancon.
Stevens says, “All lubricant consolidation started here in Lynchburg but we had to sell the program across the state and had plenty of meetings for this purpose.” Myers recalls, “We focused on instilling confidence in our products and by showing that the cheapest lube is not always the best buy. We had meetings all across the state over a full year. Carl wanted to get everyone on the same page with a single oil that could be used reliably everywhere. For engines, a single oil, Mobil Delvac 1300 Super 15W-40 lubricates basically all the state’s vehicles. We knew it would give them what they wanted because it had already been proven in the vehicles they were operating.
“At the state level,” Myers continues, “there was concern with meeting the new 2007 emissions requirements and we reassured them that our Mobil Delvac 1300 Super 15W-40 would meet those requirements. Additionally, we’ve helped them extend the drain interval from 6,000 miles to 12,000, with data that supports over 20,000 [miles] for certain vehicles — and that’s a conservative number. Now we’re looking with Carl to do some piloting to evaluate the potential use of synthetic oil.”
“More of the same,” replies Stevens. “Fluid analysis, failure analysis, root-cause analysis, tracking, developing trend lines and acting swiftly on the hard data that surfaces. Continuous, open communication between users and maintenance has always been and will continue to be central. We are moving forward on each of our major organizational goals.”
One dream seems out of Stevens’ reach however: single-sourcing each vehicle type. Southwest Airlines’ success is based substantially on the fact that they fly only one airplane in their fleet, the Boeing 737. This lowers inventory, record keeping and maintenance costs, minimizes the number of technical manuals, tools and spare parts it needs, and simplifies fleet management.
Stevens envies this standardization. “If I could buy all our dump trucks, for example, from one manufacturer I could really standardize our maintenance and inventory, just as Southwest does.” But he can’t. “For every single piece of new equipment, we go out for a competitive bid and we pick the lowest-priced product that meets our specs. For example, right now we have several different manufacturers of graders, backhoes and pickup trucks in our inventory. I understand the need for competitive bidding but if I could buy all my graders, backhoes and trucks and other equipment from a single manufacturer we could save a bundle annually and especially over the life-cycle of the vehicles. A big bundle.
“In addition, as I have done with other items, I could plot comprehensive trend lines for a set of equipment, maximize our maintenance and usage and reduce costs. We can’t do that with different-sourced equipment. So, that is a gap in our program which I wish we could address. But I’m not holding my breath.”
Stevens hopes others will see VDOT as a model. “One important thing to remember, this is a ‘walk before you run process’ and must be approached slowly from the bottom up. Otherwise you could miss some very important learning opportunities that will benefit your program later.” In closing, he notes Virginia has a new computerized maintenance management system, “which should give us the ability to obtain specific data and allow us to fine-tune our savings to each vehicle.”