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2005 Kenworth Tractor Trailer

2007 JD 7420 Tractor

2004 Ford 350 Super Duty

2010 Kubota L4240 Tractor

2008 Kobelco Excavator

1998 Honda Odyssey

2012 JD 9570 Combine

2004 GMC G3500 Cargo Van


            One thing you can do to help maintain your expensive equipment and safely extend your oil drains without any guesswork is to get your lubricants analyzed.  Although we can analyze various fluids, we’ll concentrate on oil testing here.  After reading this page and the explanations for the various vehicles above, you will have a pretty good idea of how to read these analysis reports and how valuable they really are.  Ideally you should start with the 2005 Kenworth: it's the first report listed so we covered a few more basics there. 

Quality oil analysis is like a blood test for your engine.  It can tell you all sorts of things, like how much and what kind of wear is going on, if your filtration is up to snuff, and if foreign substances like coolant, fuel or soot are present and causing trouble.  It is also the only reliable way to ascertain the real condition of your oil and if it's still suitable for continued use after prolonged service.  The “finger test” just doesn’t cut it. 


Oil Life

The “oil life monitors” in most modern vehicles are not true monitors at all; they’re very basic calculators, or “dumb” computers, better known as oil life “estimators.”  Such oil life estimators  use pre-set algorithms to analyze data like RPM, throttle position and load sensor inputs, engine temperature, distance driven, etc., to give a “life remaining” estimate with reasonable accuracy, assuming standard oils are being used.  However, if you are using AMSOIL's premium synthetic oil in your engine, which uses a wholly different class of base stocks, the oil life monitor cannot give an accurate estimate because the oil used does not satisfy all the pre-programmed "assumptions" of the monitor.  It will tell you to change the oil long before necessary. 

Another large factor for determining oil life is the ethanol content in fuel.  Ethanol is caustic and beats up oil and equipment, shortening the life of both.  The effects are harmful enough that AMSOIL removed its extended drain warranty and recommendation if you use E15 or higher.  Many stations sell batches of fuel containing upwards of 15% ethanol and you would never know it.  Oils used with high ethanol fuel should be changed a little more often just to be safe.  This is the case no matter which oil is used, so blame the ethanol and those who mandated its use.  Ethanol leaves deposits behind which affect performance, and it contains less BTU's of energy than gasoline which hurts your mileage by several percent.  It also draws water directly out of the atmosphere and into itself, which can even lead to water pooling inside the bottom of your fuel tank (phase separation) if sufficient quantities are found in the fuel or if left in the tank long enough.  This leads to lean-burn conditions can cause a lot of damage, esp. to small engines. There are still a few ethanol free gas options around…you will do yourself several favours at once if you can find them.  Thankfully AMSOIL’s top line products are the best able to handle the caustic and life-shortening effects of ethanol in your engine, even during extended drain intervals. 


Using our Reports

As with all things, you get what you pay for.  There are many labs and OEM’s that perform oil analysis but not all are equal.  I work with big diesel equipment and have seen lab reports from major manufacturers that don’t include a lot of useful information.  Some lab reports don’t even include the TBN (total base number)!  At the very least an analysis must include the TBN and kinematic viscosity at 100 degrees centigrade.  Other vital info is the fuel and water dilution rates, soot count for diesel engines and the ability to test for coolant in the oil, in addition to the various wear metal and additive counts. 

A lot of people think you should be able to send any oil in to a lab without providing any info such as oil brand and type, how old it is or what type of vehicle or application it came from, and still get a detailed prognosis.  It doesn’t work that way.  For a lab to give any useful information it needs to know what the sample is so it can compare it to the baseline numbers of the same oil when new.  Coincidentally, it so happens that many petroleum and price point semi-synthetic and synthetic oils are quite similar to each other, within their types.  This means many standardized assumptions will hold true for (standard oils) and a lab might be able to make a "reasonably" accurate prognosis even if you don’t provide all required info. 

However, nothing is similar to AMSOIL’s premium synthetics.  Fluid chemistries are proprietary and companies don’t give out that data to just anyone, including AMSOIL.  This is especially so with AMSOIL because our premium fluids are so different.  For example, petroleum oils will often get flagged for attention if the oxidation number hits 20, and if it reaches 50 the situation will often be deemed critical.  However, our lab will not begin flagging the oxidation count for some of our premium fluids until it hits 70, because they can handle huge amounts of heat before they begin to thermally degrade, or oxidize.  They will outlive any petroleum oil or competing synthetic by a wide margin under high-heat conditions.  Since Oil Analyzers is the only lab that has the exact details of our fluids, it is the only lab that can give you an accurate diagnosis.  Another lab could only make standardized assumptions and if it saw an oxidation number of 50, for example, it would tell you to change your AMSOIL immediately when in fact this would be unnecessary. 

AMSOIL uses the best testing facilities available and provides the most thorough and easy to read analysis reports I have seen yet.  Our oil sampling will cost more than what some other labs charge but you will get so much more useable information.  Considering the price of fuel or a new engine, oil analysis can be well worth the cost. 

Real World Implications 

Here’s a real example.  I know of a trucking company that was running about a dozen 2007-2009 CAT C15’s (engines) in its fleet a few years back.  AMSOIL released a Technical Service Bulletin (TSB: MO-2009-07-01) about a serious problem those and other diesel engines were having with fuel dilution in their oil.  I told that company about the issue but they didn’t listen.  They ended up running cheaper semi-synthetic (non-AMSOIL) oil in their engines @ 50,000 km drain intervals.  Cheaper oils cannot withstand fuel-dilution as well as our premium oils, but regardless, no engine can withstand 7-10% fuel dilution rates in its oil for long!  This company ended up destroying several of its engines at $25,000 each, and did who knows how much damage to the other engines that hadn’t blown up…yet.  It was only after this that they switched oils and adjusted their drain intervals. 

It seems that people only think of changing things after they have a big repair.  That’s an expensive way to run equipment.  An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of medicine.  If this company had sent their oils to our lab from the start it would have spotted the fuel dilution early on and adjusted their drain intervals accordingly.  Theirs was a costly mistake: don’t make a similar one!  Check out the oil analysis reports at the top of the page from some of our customers, each complete with a few words of explanation.  If you have any questions feel free to contact us at any time. 

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