Is engine oil analysis worth the effort?

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“I am a firm believer in engine oil analysis. I just upgraded my brand of oil to one of the top oils on the market. This decision was in part due the testing available from the oil manufacturer. The previous method I was using provided good information on the contents of the used oil, but the upgraded method will provide me with a projection of extending my oil drains based on the condition of the used oil. If I am able to increase my oil changes from 12,000-mile intervals to 18,000- or 20,000-mile intervals, the benefit will greatly outweigh the cost.”
Gary Ayers, vice president
Arlington Heavy Hauling, Inc.
Jacksonville, Fla.

“Engine oil analysis used as a preemptive failure indicator does not have the same usefulness on electronic engines as it once did on mechanical engines. The failure modes have changed. A mechanical failure on an electronic fuel injector will fill the base within hours, not days or weeks. Engine oil analysis is still useful as a periodic quality assurance check on an established PM program, and critical in establishing a new program.”
Jim Mountain, fleet maintenance director
Clifford W. Perham, Inc.
Scarborough, Maine

“The initial expense when you have as many trucks as we do is quite high, but we have found that the long-term effect of not having a good, substantial oil analysis program, is that it will bite you in the rear in the end. We have 170 trucks in our fleet that vary in mileage from 100,000 to 700,000 miles. We run oil analysis here through Shell. It allows us to keep track of soot levels. Soot is the biggest diesel engine killer there is. What oil analysis allows us to see is soot and metal fragments that the naked eye can’t see. When you run as many trucks as we do, the expense and time is worth it.”
Teddy A. Fox, shop manager
McGriff Industries, Cullman Ala.

“Yes, I do. We do it as part of our oil change program. If you start getting antifreeze in your oil, and you learn of it early on, it can save you a lot of hassle down the road. We don’t do it to try and extend our drain intervals, but just to check and maintain our equipment. We’ve taken oil samples to some places and had some come back bad, and then taken some to another place and they came back good, so who really knows?”
Steve Jordan, secretary
Carlson Trucking Inc., Clay Center, Kan.

“At Challenger, we consider oil analysis to be the blood of the engine. With proper oil analysis we can forecast engine problems or part failures. We consider oil analysis to be a vital tool in our maintenance program. Oil analysis helps reduce operating costs and reassure that our wheels keep turning, making Challenger a reliable and dependable transportation company.”
Phil Berube, director of maintenance
Challenger Motor Freight,
Cambridge, Ontario

“We have an oil analysis program. The biggest return of the program is that we’ve used it to extend our drain intervals. By extending it out, we have reduced our waste by quite a bit and cut our oil costs. We then set up our service intervals based on our oil changes. We have also used oil analysis to catch some water problems with some of our CAT C-12 engines. We’ve had some head gasket problems, so we monitor that. It’s an issue that we know we’ve had, so we keep on top of that. We’d rather have the problems in our own facilities than out on the road.”
Scott Kimmons, maintenance manager
TP Trucking, Central Point, Ore.

“I do feel it is worth the effort. Basically, I know what is going on inside the engine. With oil analysis, I know where my PM program is, and I know what I need to do and not do. We’ve saved some costs in our oil expense by extending drain intervals. I could also say that we have saved some major engine failures due to oil analysis showing fuel, coolant, and things of that nature in the oil. We have been able to get the truck in and have it properly diagnosed before a catastrophic failure occurred.”
Michael Jeffress, vice president
of maintenance
Maverick Transportation Inc.,
Little Rock, Ark.

“It’s a waste of time. With all the warranties you already have and all the miles your trucks run, it is very expensive to do it every time. I tried it many years ago, but it’s just not worth it.”
Rick Andrie, director of maintenance
Freightmasters Inc., Eagan, Minn.