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4748 12-09-2003 01:32 PM

Oil sample analysis?
I was told that there are companies to which
you can send a sample of engine
oil/transmission fluid and they will test for
abnormal wear.

Is it worth doing before a purchase? If so, how
do I find a company?

joub 12-09-2003 02:14 PM

Oil sample analysis?
Engine oil analysis is used a lot in aviation circles. The concept is monitoring of the metals found in the oil will provide some warning of excessive wear for engine parts before an actual failure occurs. Each sample report is compared to the last report, to detect an increase in certain metals. When the samples found start to exceed the norm then you had better take warning!

A one time sample won''t give you much to go on re what is normal wear and/or excessive wear. If engine/transmission failure is about to occur I''m sure excessively high levels of metal could give you a clue but you probably need some baseline for what is considered normal vs excessive.

Labs doing this type of work usually supply a sample kit with instructions. As I recall, it took a couple of weeks to get a lab report back...don''t know how that fits into your schedule.

If you can''t find a lab to do the test, drop by the local airport and ask at one of the aircraft maintenance shops. They should be able to steer you to a suitable lab.


Fishboat 12-09-2003 03:39 PM

Oil sample analysis?
The metals portion is better understood with several analyses over several oil changes but even on the first oil analysis you can get quite a bit of information. They''ll check for antifreeze in the oil as well as diesel & water. They can also check the acidity of the oil. All of these give reasonably clear hints toward problems the engine may have or how the owner maintained the engine. For the cost on an oil analysis ($25-$35) it''s one of the cheapest & best ways of looking inside the engine without having a formal engine survey done. Ask the lab what they can tell you with a look at the oil...lots.

joub 12-09-2003 04:49 PM

Oil sample analysis?
Fishboat makes a good point re the water contamination/oil acidity.

My experience with oil analysis is based upon aircooled aircraft engines where maintenance is conducted at a higher level than many boat engines get!

I agree with his recommendation.


paulmcquillan 12-14-2003 10:44 PM

Oil sample analysis?
The local Catapiller dealers also sell engine oil analysis kits. Quinn Catapiller does mine for about $14 (from memory)

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