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

Ryder and Kodiak open truckport for autonomous trucks

Kodiak’s first freight transfer point at a Ryder facility enables planned deployment of driverless trucks to and from Houston, TX.


Ryder System, Inc. and Kodiak Robotics Inc. partnered to establish their first truckport for autonomous trucks, to serve routes between Houston, Dallas and Oklahoma City. This partnership will use Ryder’s service network to enable the commercialization and scaling of Kodiak’s autonomous trucking solutions, the companies said. Currently, Kodiak trucks operate all routes with safety drivers, but it plan to introduce its first driverless operations along its Dallas-Houston route later this year, using the Ryder facility as a launch point.

ASE moves to paperless certification tests

The digital switch came at the end of January, though initial certifications will still need to be achieved in person.

Communication is key in truck service

The goal when a truck needs a repair is the same for all parties involved: a quick, efficient repair done right.

The secret to heavy-duty truck preventative maintenance success

MTR’s Eddie Lawrence’s insights on avoiding roadside breakdowns and sticking to PM best practices.

Noregon adds new features in JPRO update

Customers won’t need to pay any extra to access the diagnostic improvements.


Other Posts

Cummins to launch big bore natural gas engine

Limited production of the Cummins X15N starts this spring and full production will begin this summer.

Model year 2025 engines: What you need to know

Building on 2024 designs, heavy-duty diesel engine manufacturers remain focused on improving efficiency when looking at the 2025 model year.

Volvo Trucks new VNL: Lineup overview

We dive into the VNL’s fuel efficiency, safety and take it for a spin.

HDA Truck Pride adds Superior Diesel, Inc. as new member

Based in Illinois, the company offers complete suspension service, A/C repair, engine overhauls, after-treatment services, electrical, diagnostics and complete trailer repairs.