Tuesday 14 July 2020

Oil analysis in the spotlight

Karl Rudman, business development manager at Petro-Canada Lubricants Europe, offers advice on what to look for when assessing a used oil analysis report

As a useful element of an effective maintenance schedule, oil analysis reports can highlight mechanical failures before they become too expensive or serious to repair. The data they provide can help improve the productivity and efficiency of the fleet and importantly, reduce ongoing maintenance costs.

In addition, the data within the report can help influence decisions when it comes to extending oil drain intervals – which should always be undertaken in conjunction with an oil analysis program – where fleet maintenance costs and requirements can further be reduced so that the trucks spend more time on the road. So, when reading the used oil analysis report, what should you look out for?

When working with a specialised oil provider, or technical advisor, experts will be able to provide insightful commentary and highlight significant changes in the report’s findings.

Advisers will evaluate the results and trends that have been developed over time, enabling them to provide recommendations on whether it’s possible to extend oil drain intervals without affecting the protection of vital engine components.

However, it’s useful for every fleet owner and operator to also be able to interpret the data. This not only allows you to determine how your fleet might be impacted, but it also means that you can familiarise yourself with what ‘normal’ is for your fleet.

From this firm foundation, fleet owners and operators can identify the beginnings of trends and anomalies in report findings and then organise maintenance work as soon as possible, before it becomes serious and more expensive to repair.

When first reviewing your report, look for:

  • Results that show glycol or coolant has mixed with the oil through the presence of silicon, potassium or sodium. This could be the first signs of a failing EGR cool seal, which would require a mechanic’s attention.
  • Significant increases of iron or aluminium. Occurrence of either metal demonstrates that something is wearing at an accelerated rate inside the engine, with a failing camshaft, coolant leak attacking the liners and engine requiring mechanical adjustment all presenting these symptoms. For problems such as these, used oil analysis can help spot them early to help save significant costs and maintenance.
  • The presence of unburnt fuel combined with increased wear metals (iron, aluminium, lead and copper). This is a clear sign that the protection of crucial engine components could be compromised and that you should seek expert lubricant advice to help resolve the problem.

The ability to predict wear and schedule fleet maintenance effectively means that most issues can be resolved before they seriously affect engine performance and become too expensive or critical to fix. Reducing the risk of sudden engine failures, used oil analysis and data interpretation can significantly reduce unplanned downtime to help keep fleets on the road.

By being informed of the key wear metals and trends to look for within the report, as well as what they could be symptoms of, fleet owners and operators can identify and resolve any issues.


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