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Common pitfalls to avoid with oil analysis

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Common pitfalls to avoid with oil analysis

Common pitfalls to avoid with oil analysis

As you look for ways to make your lubricants last longer, extending oil drains is an obvious place to start. However, you need to know how the oil is performing in the engine before you make changes. That’s why oil analysis is about to become your new best friend! It can tell you if fluids are being changed too soon (oh no!) or if fluids are being used too long (ugh, oxidation!).

In the rush to extend drains, avoid the once and done approach. Don’t rely on one oil analysis to adjust your lubricants or equipment. One sample only gives you a snapshot of that interval. It won’t have the historical data needed to make reliable recommendations.

To make sustainable changes to your drain intervals that won’t harm your engine, you must commit to doing multiple samples. The first oil sample sets the benchmark you use to compare against future samples. By establishing regular sample intervals, you can see what the oil is doing over thousands of miles or hundreds of hours.

Another pitfall to avoid is the temptation to focus on only one area of the report—especially if the finding is ‘critical excessive.’ Engine oil is made up of base oil, a viscosity modifier and an additive package. It’s not one single component in oil that provides all the performance the engine needs to stay protected and run longer. A good oil analysis program examines multiple checkpoints with your fluid. That information tells you how all the parts of the engine oil are working in equipment. 

Even if one area is flagged, it may not necessarily mean the oil or engine is failing. Oil analysis is an overall health check on the oil. That’s why you do regular sampling—to see if a trend is forming and to determine how best to manage it.

Download our Oil Analysis Guide.

Take note of these common pitfalls so you can successfully implement oil analysis with your engine:

  • Only using results from one sample, which causes you to make lubricant decisions based on incomplete information.
  • Pulling samples infrequently, which again, causes unreliable data and makes it harder to determine if an issue is reoccurring.
  • Using dirty containers to pull samples or open containers sitting around the shop that taint the sample and skew the results.
  • Leaving out essential information such as hours/miles on the oil, age/make/model of the equipment or the soil type, so your results may not be accurate to your true application.
  • Not using the same identification number for each unit when you pull a sample. ID numbers like 23, #23 and 023 may seem like they’re the same equipment, but it’s better to be sure.
  • Waiting until you suspect there’s a problem. Equipment gives subtle warning signs in the hours/miles leading up to a failure.
  • Not pulling enough sample so the oil can’t be thoroughly tested or tested at all.
  • Pulling samples from a cold engine could affect the results because the oil and anything with it has settled.
  • Any delays in sending in the sample can affect the accuracy of the report. Don’t wait more than 24 hours to send in the sample because changes in your engine and oil can happen quickly.

Make the commitment to conduct oil analysis on a regular basis. The time you put into it is worth the benefits you can gain in your lubricant usage—and your engine will thank you, too! Your Schaeffer Sales Rep is happy to help you learn more about oil analysis and to implement it for your business. Visit or download our guide here to learn more.