Oil analysis of earthmoving equipment is like a blood test which can tell all what’s wrong with the machine before the symptoms occur and the problem causes major wear and tear. An appropriate oil analysis can help you zero in on the top four engine killers i.e., fuel dilution, soot, coolant and dirt, before it’s too late.

Essentially, the oil analysis is important for the earthmoving equipment because these are heavy equipment and their repairing cost is too high. What more? If they stop working, then the whole project gets delayed resulting in major loses. Hence, before buying used equipment, oil analysis assumes very much importance. Not only at the time of purchase but oil analysis can be performed on your working equipment too which is being used regularly to know the problems in advance.

What to do for oil analysis?

Make sure you give the correct information about the oil sample such as engine type, unit from which the sample is taken, equipment manufacturers name, model number, application, OEM standard maintenance guidelines and other details. Other information that needs to accompany each individual sample include the hours on both engine and oil, any recent oil and filter changes, what oil you’ve used to top off with and how much and the sample date. If any of this information is missing, then the resulting report could offer an incomplete picture. So, give these details carefully.

When sending the oil samples, you should also review the maintenance history of the unit from which the sample is taken and provide the laboratory with as many specified details as possible.

What does oil analysis report indicate?

The oil analysis report include information such as the name of the lubricant manufacturer, type and grade of the lube, filter types and their micron ratings, sump capacity, date received and date returned. The report also specifies recommendations if any like something as simple as an oil change or the report might suggest specific actions to be taken such as running a check on the account of significantly high levels of silicon and other dirt found in the sample.

The oil analysis report also identifies the type and amount of wear particles, contamination and oil additives in the oil. If the report suggests that maintenance action should be taken, then first, you should consider all other available diagnostic information such as vibration, in-line sensors etc. After that, if the issues still persist, then you should do what is recommended or perform more tests.

You should immediately send a second sample to the lab to verify results, if resampling is suggested. If there are no recommendations or resampling suggested, then monitor the unit and take oil samples at normal intervals.

Summing up

Well, there is no doubt that an oil analysis can help in identifying major issues with the equipment but you should also keep in mind that no test is perfect. Each one has its limitations. Hence, you should never tear down an equipment based on one oil analysis report alone. In fact, you should run more sophisticated tests and track the trends before taking the unit apart. Also, you should send a follow-up sample to the lab to confirm the results or use other diagnostic tools to further investigate the problem.