Oil Analysis Should Be Part Of A Vehicle Maintenance Program - Provides Early Warning About Possible Engine Problems

Karin Haumann - OEM Technical Manager, Shell Global Solutions
December 2023

 Oil analysis is a proven way to check the condition of the oil in your engine and detect oil contamination or conditions within your engine that could cause premature wear and downtime. Oil analysis should be part of a regular truck maintenance schedule, which can contribute to reduced Total Cost of Operation (TCO).

 Engine oil is the lifeblood of the engine, so closely examining the characteristics of the oil can tell you a lot about the oil's health and indicate mechanical issues with an engine. A regular oil analysis program also lets you build a historical database and watch for trends. Ideally, a sample of used oil should be analyzed after every oil change for every piece of equipment.

 Early Warning System

Oil analysis should be thought of as a cost-effective early warning system. Is there too much diesel fuel in the oil? You may need to check your fuel system. What about traces of coolant? Your cooling system may require a check-up. Too much dirt or soot? Maybe you've overextended your drain interval or have a leak in the air intake system. An oil analysis lab can notice minor abnormalities long before you may be aware of them. This will allow you to act before these early warning signs become possible operational problems or engine damage.

Finding the Right Oil Change Interval

What is learned from a consistent oil analysis program can help you determine the best oil change interval, help increase equipment reliability, minimize unscheduled downtime, and, more precisely, track operating efficiency and maintenance practices. This combination can contribute to lower total operating cost and potentially help to extend oil change intervals, which can save on operating cost.

 Oil Analysis for Engine Health

A good oil analysis program can provide information on engine condition and oil quality. Data on every oil drain can provide a record of the engine's health by showing contaminants that can indicate issues like engine wear, fuel dilution and soot.

For example, the wear metals section of an analysis report may detect a mechanical engine problem unrelated to the oil. For example, high levels of iron could indicate cylinder liner wear. Unusual levels of chromium, aluminum, lead, copper and tin - can be spotted and interpreted by the lab, helping provide valuable information about an engine.

Engine Oil Life

Oil analysis can also determine the useful life remaining in engine oil by looking at oxidation and nitration, additive depletion, viscosity and more. It can also show information about the condition of your oil. If the oil's viscosity is too high, soot or other contaminants could be the cause of the oil to thickening.

 High-Quality Engine Oils Combined with Oil Analysis

Shell Lubricants is committed to helping drivers and fleets reduce the TCO of their trucks across duty cycles and operating conditions with high-quality engine oils and oil analysis. The line of Shell Rotella synthetic blend and full synthetic engine oils can help increase fuel economy and protect against wear, deposits and oil breakdown. Oil analysis through Shell LubeAnalyst can help to optimize oil change intervals which can help drivers and fleets ensure maximum protection of their engines and to have the peace of mind that comes with taking the guesswork out of oil changes.