What is Oil Analysis?
Oil analysis involves sampling and analyzing oil for various properties and materials that indicate wear and contamination in an engine, transmission or hydraulic system. Sampling and analyzing on a regular basis establishes a baseline of normal wear and can indicate when abnormal wear or contamination occurs.
Oil analysis tells you a lot about how the equipment was used and what condition it’s in. Oil that has been inside any moving mechanical apparatus for some time reflects the exact condition of that assembly. As moving parts make contact, wear occurs and introduces minute metal particles to the oil. These particles are so small that they remain in suspension. Many products of the combustion process also become trapped in the circulating oil. In addition, the oil may be exposed to external contamination. Identifying and measuring these impurities indicates the rate of wear and level of contamination. Thus, the oil becomes a working history of the machine. Oil analysis also suggests methods to reduce accelerated wear and contamination. A typical oil analysis can indicate the presence of contaminants and tell you if you've been using the appropriate lubricants. Oil analysis detects:
- Fuel dilution of lubrication oil
- Dirt contamination in the oil
- Antifreeze in the oil
- Excessive bearing wear
- Misapplication of lubricants
Some wear is normal. However, abnormal levels of a particular material can give an early warning of impending problems, prevent a breakdown and allow for corrective action such as repairing an air–intake leak before major damage occurs. One major advantage of an oil–analysis program is being able to anticipate problems and schedule repair work to avoid downtime during a critical time of use. Early detection can:
- Reduce repair bills
- Prevent catastrophic failures
- Increase machinery life
- Reduce non–scheduled downtime