cheap oil analysis?

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Staff member
Dec 14, 2002
New Jersey
Hi, I would like to start doing oil analysis from time to time, but cant afford $20+ per time, which is what Ive seen from most places... Where do most people get their kits, whats the average cost? Thanks
Schaffer's sometimes has kits for sale on this board at 3 for $30 including shipping. Check out the site supporters section, George has kits for $15. "You wanna play, you gotta pay" [I dont know] [ February 06, 2003, 06:09 PM: Message edited by: GROUCHO MARX ]
For folks on a budget I usually recommend the Schaeffers $10 deal, add my interpretation for $10 and thats about as low as you can go and still understand the results. Not being able to apply the data properly or ID a lab mistake renders the analysis worthless regardless of cost. As Dragboat used to say; " a good oil analysis costs no more than a pizza". Skip the pizza one night ,eat an apple and save enough to make sure you car is in good operating form. [Happy]
Skip pizza? [Eek!] I guess I'm living large, as I never skip pizza and always do oil analysis! I had free pizza after work yesterday, will probably have a pizza slice for lunch, and am making homemade pizza with garlic pita bread tonight! [Happy]
Doggone it! Now I'll have to go to the Lone Star Pizza Works [Patriot] (in Commerce, Texas) for lunch today! It's *Your* fault, not *My* lack of willpower! [Big Grin] (Hmm...a career in politics? Nah!) Ironic, since I live in Lone Star, ~85 miles away. Speaking of which, I plan to use one of those $10 Schaeffer kits this weekend, & email the results to Terry when they arrive.
I have used both the Cat and a John Deere $12.00 analysis. These are great for virgin analysis, glycol presence, education , fun and in-between full analysis results. But to fully understand what your engine is telling you and establish a safe change interval a full analysis and professional interpretation is needed. Its going to cost you $25.00 to $35.00 dollars US.
Hi Neil There are some who would like you to believe that you have to spend additional to get an "expert" to look at the results, and in some cases it might be beneficial. But if lab is doing its job this isn't necessary. Most Cat dealers have some real experts looking at the samples. If you have questions about the results you need to contact the lab and ask questions. Remember the only information they have to go on is what's on the label. Not all labs are the same nor do they offer the same tests (including Cat labs). Another well known oil analysis site is good at telling you to spend at least $35 on an oil analysis to get anything worth while. Why? IMHO its because that's what their advertisers charge. What many don't realize is the Cat dealers are not selling oil analysis, they are selling product support and big expensive machines which is where they make their money. One thing I want to make clear is I know Terry provides a service that is reasonably priced and beneficial, although I haven't seen his interpretation and I don't know what all he does. I not trying to take anything away from him because he has to do a lot of educating and that alone is worth what he charges and more. But a good lab will tell you what you want to know for no additional charge. Just talk to them. I do have to ask what you mean by "full analysis results" and what do you get for 25 to 35 dollars? The lab I manage provides wear/contaminant element analysis, FTIR, viscosity, glycol test, water, fuel, PQ, microscope exam with photograph (when necessary), particle count on new or non-engine samples. This is what we consider to be our standard analysis. The only things we charge extra for are TBN and TAN, but I have seen few cases where it is really necessary to evaluate what is happening. If sufficient data is present (i.e. enough samples) we will make recommendations as to oil change intervals. We also provide information on maintenance shortcomings. We process samples the same day they are received and can send the results by email as PDF files. Something else, since we need a sample of new oil for FTIR we don't charge for virgin samples yet we do our standard analysis including the critical particle count. I'm really interested in your comments because it bothers me a little when someones suggests we aren't doing a thorough job. Stinky
Stinky -- I'm not going to slam the entire OA industry, but there are a lot of sloppy labs out there. For example, I just got a UOA back where: 1) the oil had dropped a viscosity grade and this was not flagged or mentioned in the commentary. 2) the hours on the unit were mis-transcribed, and 3) there was a decimal error in the hp rating of the engine. The average guy can use a "second opinion" in many cases. If the customer knows precisely what follow up questions to ask, the techs or customer service people at most labs can provide the information. But that is expecting a lot from someone just starting to use OA. BTW, with 12-15K drain intervals now used for many European passenger cars, TBN is often a limiting factor. It is also a useful for comparing the performance of different oils in an engine run under consistent conditions.
oilguard has $9-$14 oil analysis(depending on how many you buy). check their website. it includes aluminum, chromium, copper, iron, lead, tin, silicon, potassium, sodium,water, oxidation, visc@100, glycol, tbn, sae, and soot. they also give an interpretation and are very happy to answer any questions over the phone(probably email too). i've been very happy with them and their bypass filter.
Drstresson Well I certainly agree that there are some sloppy labs out there, but I doubt if a second opinion would have caught the clerical error and I don't know why the hp rating is even on an oil analysis report. As for the viscosity grade decrease a 0.1 cSt change can drop you a viscosity grade if you are near the border. If there was a change or more than 10% or 1 cSt then it should have been noted. Without knowing more about your sample I can't really say too much. I still maintain that if you are having to pay someone to interpret your information then you should look for another lab. Information is what you should be getting, not just numbers. If you really want the most information call and talk to the people in the lab. You would be surprised how much more information we can provide it we know a little more about the application and what the customer really wants to know. Stinky
Originally posted by Drstressor: ----Snip---- The average guy can use a "second opinion" in many cases. ---snip---
Yes, sometimes this is necessary. However, has anyone thought it's not the labs fault per se, it could me a techs shortcomming. Don't most of the reports show who ran the test? Testing is just that little snapshot in the oil sample of the snapshot in the whole amount of engine oil in the snapshot of "X" amount of miles on the car, with all sorts of conditions changing, that was out-of-wack. The thing that has been said here on the boards, and I agree with before I even read these boards is that there needs to be a trend in the oil to even get a good idea how or what is going right or wrong. Other things need to be considered like equipment, environment, etcetera but it boils down to a trend. That's why only one test is not enough. There can be 80 or 100 tests each 3k oil change, and everything looks like a cake walk, then the 81st or 101st is wild; does that mean the test was wrong? maybe the sample was pulled from a different place or with dirty equipment or with colder oil instead of hot or many more things that can throw off a test. If you jump on the scale three times a day, you may just likely have three weights. The trend in sampling here would be to be in your shorts, no shoes, etcetera, at say 7:00 each time. Those guys IMO are like bean-counters, Yes, they may make a mistake here or there, but they do this stuff all day, and for the most part are as accurate as a hand grenade thrown in a tent with someone sleeping... it won't have to land on the guy to get him, it just has to come close, and they usually come close as a surgens knife. I have had a couple tests re-done, one was recounted my Microscope and was 1 count off on one thing and like 10-12 on another (particle). Anyway, I think that I'd rather have a test from a lab that is a little off sometimes \ for whatever reason) than use my own judgement to GUESS.
Stinky, you bring up a good point and one that I have addressed successfully in this 3 or 4 year experiment consulting for the average motorist "consumer". For years I have exclusively consulted for high dollar entities who paid alot for the specialized interpretation and application of SAE,ASTM standardized testing. Few trended labs including yours have that equipment capability, background, experience or training. Add in the variability of PCMO lubes and the complexity and variability rises exponentially. CAT SOS labs are average at best generally at accuracy, repeatability and interpeting any machine lighter than 8000 lbs! I spend nearly every day calling my contract SOS lab to correct their mistakes and lack of QC. You are sharp and informed based on comments I have read here but do you have time to answer 100+ phone calls or emails a day from Joey consumer who wants to know about the best oil and filter for his 3 qt capacity KIA and spend 30 to 40 minutes diagnosing "piston slap". If you have that kind of time your lab isn't running many samples daily. Lab techs run a lab not spend hours talking to customers for $10 a pop. Add in the independent testing knowledge of R&D from a tribological and Lubricant angle combined with practical maintenance and racing application and our service goes way beyond just education of the "basics". Correlating a trended analysis to that database and background from years of experience is just not available at any labs I am aware of, accessable and affordable to John Q oil analysis consumer. Proof is that my consumer customer base is growing as word gets out. I make every effort to insure that if you are a Dyson Analysis customer I will save you money by improving qualitatively and measureably the operation of your vehicle or machine. If not I will not pump you for more analysis since I have found caring more for the benefit of my customers than my pocket book keeps the same pocket book full in the long run ( same theory I use for the heavy hitters) ! My customers also receive the benefit of proprietary institutional knowledge, so much that I ask them not to share my comments online or anywhere for fear that the more knowledgable industry thief reverse engineer those and learn much more than $10 to $35 worth about lubes and how they work in a machine. Hope that sheds some light on my service and why it exists. Just filling a niche. [ August 24, 2003, 01:07 AM: Message edited by: Terry ]
Has anyone tried Shell's oil analysis service? It costs $15, they take care of the postage. On the Rotella forum it says this is included: • 21 elements (wear metals, additive metals, contaminants) • viscosity at 100°C • Total Base Number (TBN) • fuel dilution • soot content • water content
One way or another you get what you pay for. Terry is very right, the comments and help you get is worth more than the numbers. Those should be written with someone with an understanding of you, your driving, your equipment, etc. I pay for the analisis of oils for my good customers, get the lab reports and comments, but add my own based on my knowledge of them and their people, and work with the customers to improve their maintenance and protect their equipment. So they pay for the oil, I pay for or do the rest,as long as they follow suggestions.
Originally posted by widman: One way or another you get what you pay for. -*-*
Yup, and for a couple bucks I can live with my results... I've done Okay so far.... and since no one wants really to tell how to decifer an oil test, I'll just keep winging it another few million miles
Terry has shed light on one of my UOA and I can say that what he offers is destinktly different then what you get from BlackStone or other UOA Labs!!!
The place I got my UOA kit from didn't even say anything about it to me, just the lab said oil is ok(ok for what)?. I paid 37.50 + shipping for a UOA w/ particle count. I had to pay return shipping too. I don't see why the lab itself doesn't sell UOA kits.
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