Oil Analysis – What is it and Why Should You Do It?

oil analysis test tubes in metal rack

The benefits of oil analysis.


Oil analysis is similar to the likes of taking a blood sample in order to obtain a full diagnostic blood panel on a person. Through such a thorough analysis, doctors can evaluate organ function, the presence of disease, conditions such as cancer, diabetes and heart disease, nutritional markers, genetic predispositions and risk factors that can affect a person’s overall health and well-being. Oil is the lifeblood of your engine and is responsible for the performance and health of your truck and fleet. As part of your preventative maintenance schedule, performing this preventative measure on your trucks will give you an insight into the internal landscape of your engines and will allow you to track the performance of your equipment over time.

How does oil analysis work?

Based on the presence of certain metals, an oil analysis will inform you as to where metal-on-metal contact is affecting the integrity of your engine components. By identifying contamination and wear through oil analysis you can prevent unnecessary downtime and costly repairs while simultaneously extending drain intervals. Having this valuable information will be beneficial for fine-tuning a preventative maintenance schedule for the future that fits the unique needs of a specific truck, optimizing its performance while preventing the possibility of damage or total engine failure. Analysis tests come in different packages and each is distinct, testing for a wide range of lubricant components that are specific to an engine type and application. Depending on the package you choose, oil analysis will test for such things as viscosity, trace elements, additives, the presence and percentage of water, the presence of metals, glycol, sulphur, chlorine, fuel dilution, soot, oxidation, nitration and acids. To perform an oil analysis, an SCL consultant can provide you with the appropriate test kit to meet your specific needs. After taking an oil sample you will mail it in a pre-addressed envelope or container to a lab along with specific information about the full profile of your truck. Oil samples are generally tested within 24 hours of being received and results can be made available by phone, e-mail or fax within the span of a work week.

Industry trends for the use of oil analysis

According to Chevron’s Lubewatch Oil Analysis Program Overview, 65% of heavy-duty mobile equipment operators use oil analysis to monitor the condition of their equipment and to establish appropriate drain intervals. It is estimated that the number of heavy industry oil analysis users will increase their use of monitoring techniques by 40% in the next 3 years. 79% of the major industrial facilities in the United States rely on oil analysis as a key diagnostic tool for monitoring the health and performance of their equipment with up to 4% of a standard maintenance budget going toward industrial lubricant monitoring – in stark contrast with the 50% of a budget being affected by costly lubricant-related downtime or catastrophic engine failure.

Cost of oil analysis

Oil analysis is an added expense to your bottom line, but a preventative measure that we at SCL recommend as an affordable safeguard against ongoing engine wear. Tests provide extensive interpretation of results with clear suggestions and recommendations for how to optimize engine health based on analysis results.  While oil analysis is a relatively marginal preventative expense, you can expect to pay on average between $8 to $15 per test, although more extensive diagnostics may cost more. Multiply an average of $10 per test across a fleet of 100 trucks and you are looking at roughly $1,000 added to your bottom line annually. An affordable preventative measure when compared to a catastrophic engine failure or costly downtime, oil analysis has proven to be a worthy investment for many fleet operators and managers. There is currently a spectrum of options for performing oil analysis that satisfy the needs of a wide range of industrial applications such as a basic lubrication test package and tests specifically designed for diesel, natural gas, industrial oils, metalworking fluids and turbine oils.

Oil analysis is an added expense to your bottom line, but a preventative measure that we at SCL recommend as an affordable safeguard against ongoing engine wear. 

The benefit of oil analysis when transitioning to a new lubricant product

It’s helpful to perform an oil analysis prior to transitioning to a new lubricant product, taking a benchmark test before and after making the change to fully understand the current state of your oil and the condition of your engine after introducing a new product and its resulting affect. Since transitioning an entire fleet to a new product can be costly, we recommend transitioning slowly by implementing the change with a select batch of trucks and performing oil analysis on the sample batch to ensure a product’s safety and integrity before making a sweeping fleet-wide transition.

Contact an SCL Consultant today

In a wide range of industrial sectors, if there’s metal touching metal, oil is involved. At SCL, we’re here to protect and optimize the machines that keep our country moving and we pride ourselves on providing superior logistics and solutions, extensive product and industry knowledge and total performance satisfaction for our customers. Performing oil analysis on a regular or semi-regular basis as part of your preventative maintenance schedule will allow you to minimize equipment downtime, optimize the life of your engine and equipment, reduce the cost of maintenance and repairs, extend and maximize drain intervals and develop a reliable understanding of your engine’s health. For more information on the benefits of conducting oil analysis on your fleet, contact an SCL consultant today.

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