UOA,s... How relevant are they...

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252
Location
AB, Canada
The Boycott Castrol debate has prompted numerous posts regarding (and requesting)... data ...science...performance. Uoa's seem to be one of the only unbiased indicators of true "performance" out there, aside from the oil makers secret labs...! It just seems like the number of variables that can contribute to a UOA's final result are mindboggling!!! Consider this brief list: Engine type: High revving? Oil capacity? Chain,gear,belt driven cams? Overhead cams? Air Filter? Oil Filter? etc...!!! Driver: Lead foot; or baby it all the time? Idle time? Highway or stop and go? Duration of trips? Location: Cold winters? Hot summers? You get the point...it seems it would be just about impossible to compare apples to apples regarding oil quality and longevity. Case in point: My engine is a firmly driven 1.8l four cylinder, dohc, that spends a good deal of time above 5000rpm. My Dad's engine is a classic 5.7l pushrod V8(I'm Canadian...I don't know cubic inches so good...350?) in a very gently driven truck. It has NEVER! been above 3500rpm. If we used the same brand and viscosity of oil, would UOAs be of any use for comparative purposes regarding oil quality and longevity? I'm not sure that looking at only the UOA, and knowing nothing about the vehicle, driver, filters, previous oil used, location, time of year, etc. (again...so many variables!)...can give us a truly scientific picture of an oil's quality and performance in GENERAL. I think it may tell us what seems to work well for SPECIFIC engines; and certain drivers...but extrapolating that data to other engines,and drivers might prove to be questionable. Any comments...?
 
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2,794
Location
NM
I believe that at a minumum, an oil should be run for two intervals with UOAs, then a different brand should go through the same process and so on to determine the better oil. All must be the same of course; weather, temperature, altitude, driving conditions, etc. Rick EDIT:....and like Groucho said....same car. [ October 13, 2003, 05:44 PM: Message edited by: Last_Z ]
 
Messages
5,112
Location
Airlie Beach Australia
Hi, I agree Groucho - many variables exist and it takes time to build up a real dossier on an engine family. The trending is good for wear metals but I have seen real mistakes made by a lack of analysis skills. Even from Labs. The real importance of READING AND UNDERSTANDING UOA RESULTS was bought home to me recently A customer of mine uses a very high quality synthetic lubricant in their trucks and regular UOAs are undertaken during each OC cycle Over a period of time - on at least four UOAs - the Laboratory involved faxed the lubricant user ( truck owner's workshop manager ) telling them to check for a coolant leak and to change the lubricant The advice was ignored by these persons who were unable or unwilling to read and implement the recommendations Result? - one engine failure and another requiring tear-down in sympathy The cause ? - coolant induced bearing corrosion causing total failure of all crank bearings and significant shaft damage There is now a liability issue involving the truck's owner ( they do their own servicing ), the engine supplier and the oil company! Who do you think is liable?? Regards
 
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2,759
Location
CarMax
I think Doug and Groucho make the key points for UOA's. It's not so one can compare oil performance across any and all cars, its so you can determine oil performance in YOUR car. Who cares how your favorite oil performs in someone else's car? It only matter how it performs in your engine.
 
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5,358
Location
Gone
You all have brought up an excellent point about UOAs, that being the incredible number of variables involved. Don't forget variability in lab results (within AND between labs). The longer I participate on this board the more I am concerned with the quality of lab output. There is also the concern of who is interpreting the results and what are their qualifications. I believe UOAs are extremely important in a case like Doug just cited (e.g. revealing a potentially destructive situation like a coolant leak) or to determine appropriate OCIs for a specific oil in a specific car or to determine whether or not a particular oil and engine are a good match. As you all know, UOAs are often used on this board in "Let's see who makes the best oil" or "let's validate the relative performance of XYZ oil" mode. I do not believe that is an appropriate application. It IS OK if one is trying to determine, "What is the best oil for my car?" It is not OK to say, "Well let's see some killer UOAs from XYZ oil." A perfect example is Redline. Terry D and some of our friends from OZ say it is terrfic, yet we see some UOAs that don't overwhelm. Does that mean that they are wrong and Redline is bad? I don't think so because I refuse to discount their opinions. I think the weakness is in the UOA process itself.
 

geeeman

Thread starter
Messages
252
Location
AB, Canada
In the case of the coolant contaminated oil detected by the UOA...was the damage ALREADY done? Or could immediate action have saved the engines in question? I think SOME of the information a UOA can reveal, ie a spike in wear metals, coolant or fuel etc...may often be something we really don't want to hear about!!! ...and may be simply too LATE to be of value...
 
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5,358
Location
Gone
quote:
Originally posted by geeeman: In the case of the coolant contaminated oil detected by the UOA...was the damage ALREADY done? Or could immediate action have saved the engines in question? I think SOME of the information a UOA can reveal, ie a spike in wear metals, coolant or fuel etc...may often be something we really don't want to hear about!!! ...and may be simply too LATE to be of value...
....kinda like when you have lights instead of gauges on the dash, huh?
 
Messages
9,448
Location
USA
WHats the alternative?? It is not practical to tear down an engine measure each part on an analytical scale reassemble and then drive with a new oil tear down and remeasure! UOA if used in a trending fashion can give alot of insight! If you combine this with a tear down and rateing at the major then you can really get the insight you need! [ October 13, 2003, 09:12 PM: Message edited by: JohnBrowning ]
 
Messages
5,112
Location
Airlie Beach Australia
Hi, it the case I outlined earlier the correct response would have been to; 1) Seek guidance from the Engine Maker ( under warranty ) and/or 2) Check for obvious coolant loss ( study inputs, analyse coolant, remove/open/inspect FF filters )( It meaningful coolant loss detected see 1) above ) 3) Drain oil/filters forthwith if no coolant loss is noted 4) Do a number of close interval UOAs and monitor It is thought that the engine was allowed to run at least 80+kkms or so and possibly longer plus a scheduled OC ( @80kkms ) with the UOAs detecting significant coolant contamination The contamination was noted on the first UOA as actionable forthwith! This would never have happended in my fleet!! Regards
 
Messages
1,533
Location
Ephraim
quote:
Originally posted by pscholte: Don't forget variability in lab results (within AND between labs).
And in Sample place time and method, and a host of other factors. Sample methods are almost as importand as the test results. If you want consistant numbers from the labs, I don't know where to start other than doing several BLIND studies. I would suggest If you guys really want to find an accurate lab, then do a GROUP BLIND STUDY. Have everyone in the study send in say 3-7 samples to 3-7 labs. Have everyone in the study do this... out of 2500 people even if 10% were in the study that's still a lot of samples. You could do it say at the first or the middle of the month, where everyone regardless of miles pulls their samples and sends them off to the same labs. After I would guess One month maybe two or three, that would be enough data to have a clear winner, place and show. You could have month 1 All new oild you wanted to test or your favorite oil, and do a drain put your oil in, do the virgin, then next month do the first UOA, then the month after, the second. This I think the real value of this board can lie, in GROUP / TEAM work, designed to put out more concrete data. Least in the members having some sort of list of things to try and posting their results under that heading. I.E. : Change Fuel Filter, Oil filter, Air filter on OC, travel 3K (w/ or wo) fuel treatment, sample. Travel 2k Sample and replace filter, etceteras. Have some part of the forum where there are some focused designed (right or wrong) schedule to test XYZ 1.Way, 2. Way, 3.Way, by as many as want to do that study. Just a thought~!
 
Messages
3,683
Location
Chattanooga, TN
Having been using UOA for about 10 years I am slowly coming to the conclusion that they are nice to have but not worth the effort.Why, several reasons. A bad report on wear numbers is meaningless for many of the reasons cited above and so what. Just about nothing you can do about it. Change oils, maybe but most probably the wear is normal due to your dirving habits, engine and climate. And, IT MOST PROBABLY WILL NOT AFFECT THE LIFE OF THE ENGINE. Next, even if you have a coolant issue, you probably knew it before UOA anyway, your coolant overflow tank was going down or empty. Same is true of leaks and poor performance issues. So, basically, unless you are the manager of a fleet of vehicles UOA is not cost effective, really tells you very little (actually tells you nothing) about how long your engine will last and Those that tout the "use UOA to find the optimal OCI". No one has done that because y'all keep searching for the holy grail and keep changing weights, brands etc and will never know when that optimal OCI has been obtained with any oil. So, nice to have, great time consumer on discussion boards but pretty much a waste of time and money!!!!!!!!!!
 
Messages
628
Location
LA (Lower Alabama)
A single UOA on my boat showed fuel contamination which, combined with the method of operation and a less than sufficient oil, resulted in horrific wear numbers. Never would have known without the UOA. I am undertaking remedial action and trust the situation will be resolved. Probably the best $20 I could have spent.
 
Messages
3,683
Location
Chattanooga, TN
quote:
Originally posted by doyall: A single UOA on my boat showed fuel contamination which, combined with the method of operation and a less than sufficient oil, resulted in horrific wear numbers. Never would have known without the UOA. I am undertaking remedial action and trust the situation will be resolved. Probably the best $20 I could have spent.
You don't know that yet because it appears that you have no basis to say that you could or have corrected the situation and no way of knowing how long that engine would survive if you did nothing. Verdict is still our for you IMO. Knowing is one thing, correcting is another and knowing is useless if there is nothing you can do to correct it. Shorter OCI is not correcting the problem only playing with the statistics
 
Messages
628
Location
LA (Lower Alabama)
quote:
Knowing is one thing, correcting is another and knowing is useless if there is nothing you can do to correct it. Shorter OCI is not correcting the problem only playing with the statistics
Spector, you either didn't read carefully enough or bother to think about it. I didn't claim a UOA allowed me to correct the problem. The problem may be uncorrectable, but the situation is certainly not unresolvable. And that's what I said, namely "I trust the situation will be resolved." It's far more than semantics. A short OCI may be necessary to negate the ill effects of the method of operation, which I am tending to believe caused the fuel contamination. Sort of like a 3,000 mile OCI vs. a 5,000 OCI for severe duty use in an automobile. I reaffirm every remark I made.
 
Messages
3,683
Location
Chattanooga, TN
Okay, you may resolve the issue by going to shorter OCI and thus less fuel contamination. Until more UOA is performed we will not know if the wear metals have decreased with lower fuel contamination and the real question is, with less fuel contamination being resolved will you get longer engine life? Perhaps God can answer that one as we certainly cannot! Thus, was the UOA worthwhile, not until you can show that the problem can be resolved to reduce wear metals in ppm/hours and the engine life increased IMO. Just my opinion. [ October 14, 2003, 10:29 AM: Message edited by: Spector ]
 
Messages
1,533
Location
Ephraim
quote:
Originally posted by Spector: *-*-*-*- Those that tout the "use UOA to find the optimal OCI". No one has done that because y'all keep searching for the holy grail and keep changing weights, brands etc and will never know when that optimal OCI has been obtained with any oil. *-*-*-*-*-
Well Lead the way! Set the Example. I think that for most people you may be correct. They should just change at 4-5K and be done. For those that want more value, thry can find the OCI and then change at a % of the value (say 80%) and be done with it. What most people here dont seem to understand is that they are mostly prejudiced to their selections. How can they and WE get over this? Perhaps to have everyone send their samples in and have someone else get the results, and not mention all the details and post the results. I donno. But don't kid yourself UOS are necessary when desire is to keep equipment a long time, reduce expenses and to find potential problems. They are most necessary when doing EXTENDED Oil Drains, not in specific to normal drains, but in EXTENDED drains, they are a must.
 
Robbie, I think the nail you hit on the head was about reducing expenses. UOAs make much more sense for fleets and/or owners of heavy duty equipment where down time costs substantial dollars. For almost all others 3-5k drains will be fine. There will always be the exceptions.
 
Messages
3,683
Location
Chattanooga, TN
Okay, I service 5 cars and the OCI was determined based upon UOA. two are once a year, one is at 12,000 miles, another at 7500 and one now at 3000 due to poor UOA numbers. The other 4 have been on those schedules for several years based upon 2-4 UOA to see the trend and find the max acceptable wear metal count that I can live with. But, I use only one brand Amsoil and 4 have 10W30 and one 0W. I have come to disregard high UOA numbers if the trend shows that this is normal for the engine, thus my Camry, with lead counts at 7500 miles of 12-40 ppm has been determined to be normal for me which does not vary much on a per/1000 mile basis (even if change the oil at 3000 miles or 5000 miles) and for me that is normal. Plus, engine now has 159,000 miles. So, does high lead by itself mean anything or is trend more important. Would it have made any difference if I never had UOA, IMO only in selecting the OCI, all else seems to be out of my control!
 
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