How used oil analysis can help make the most of your proactive maintenance program

How used oil analysis can help make the most of your proactive maintenance program

A proactive maintenance program can help owners and operators prevent breakdowns and costly unplanned downtime. For fleets looking to identify potential mechanical failure before it becomes too serious or expensive to repair, used oil analysis is a vital tool.

Three steps to used oil analysis

Lubricants are the lifeblood of an engine. Used oil analysis is akin to preventative medicine—a tool to monitor and identify any potential concerns or issues with the overall health of engine operation. Used oil analysis is a simple three-stage process which involves taking a representative sample of the oil, sending it to a qualified used oil analysis laboratory and then interpreting and, vitally, acting upon the recommendations of the results.

By incorporating used oil analysis into a proactive maintenance program, technical service advisors can evaluate results and trends on an ongoing basis, establishing over time when and where end-users’ likely costs are going to occur. Identifying trends provides the basis for a better-informed maintenance schedule. For example, regular used oil analysis offers the potential to safely extend oil drain intervals, which provides fleet owners with another opportunity to reduce maintenance costs and keep their vehicles on the road for longer between scheduled maintenance.

Extending drain intervals should always be undertaken in conjunction with an oil analysis program.

Reading into the results

Lubricant experts and technical service advisors can share their detailed knowledge and experience of used oil analysis report interpretation; however, it’s useful for fleet managers to also be able to understand what the results could mean for their fleet. Fleet managers know their equipment and what they need from it, and can foresee when it will be under more pressure and needs to be operating at maximum capacity. By understanding how to analyze the reports, trends and anomalies in results can be identified quickly and maintenance schedules updated as required, in line with commercial demands.

There are several common anomalies to look out for when reading the results of a used oil analysis report. If a report highlighted that coolant or glycol is present in the engine oil, it could be the result of a failing EGR cooler seal, which would require immediate attention from a mechanic and potentially an oil change. The presence of silicon, potassium or sodium could be one of the first signs that this is taking place, so these are important properties to keep an eye on.

Increases in iron and aluminum can be indicators of a failing camshaft, coolant leak attacking the liners, or the engine requiring mechanical adjustment. By spotting the signs early, it’s much easier and significantly more cost-effective to undertake small maintenance tasks before the issues become too expensive and serious to repair.

One of the most important anomalies to look for is the presence of unburnt fuel combined with an increase in common wear metals (iron, aluminum, lead and copper) as these are signs that the protection of vital engine components may be compromised. In this situation, expert lubricant advice and mechanical expertise should be sought to help resolve the issues.

By incorporating used oil analysis into a proactive maintenance schedule, fleet managers can predict engine wear throughout service life and respond to issues before they become too serious or expensive to repair. Not only can this help manage fleet maintenance, but it can also prevent breakdowns and unplanned downtime. In short, proactive maintenance might be a given for most equipment owners but combining it with simple-to-adapt tools such as used oil analysis can save fleet managers time and money.

This article was contributed by Darryl Purificati, OEM technical liaison for Petro-Canada Lubricants.

You May Also Like

70th Annual EUFMC event planning begins

Invited professionals can expect to begin receiving registration information by email this fall for the event.

The 2024 EUFMC will be held June 2 through 5, 2024, at the Williamsburg Lodge and Conference Center in Williamsburg, Virginia. In 2023, EUFMC set a new record when more than 160 fleet representatives from electric utilities, contractors, co-ops and municipal operations, including over 50 new members and eight new companies, were in attendance, according to the press release. The conference continues to expand its membership to include fleet managers from electric utilities, electrical contractors, utility co-ops, tree care operations, municipalities, and telecom fleets. 

Onfleet launches integrations marketplace for last mile delivery

The marketplace will be available to current Onfleet account owners.

Cox Automotive expands Great Dane presence in eastern Michigan

Trudell Trailer Sales, a Cox Automotive company, will expand into a new region.

CalAmp announces passing of president, chief executive officer Jeff Gardner

Jason Cohenour, director on CalAmp’s Board of Directors, has been named interim chief executive officer by the board, effective immediately.

Innospec joins the Diesel Technology Forum

Innospec is a specialty chemical company with employees in 25 countries around the world.

Other Posts

Roadwarrior introduces line of EGR coolers

The EGR coolers are tailored for Cummins, Volvo, Mack, and Detroit heavy-duty engines.

Properly trained technicians can help prevent unplanned truck breakdowns

As truck technology evolves, so should technician training practices.

Low viscosity oil delivers on diesel engine durability

Could 10W-30 and 5W-30 diesel engine oil be a reality? (Hint: They already are.)

Safe Fleet acquires rolling tarp system provider

The existing leadership team will continue to manage the business post-acquisition.