What is Oil Analysis?


Oil analysis provides a detailed view of what is happening within machine components during operation.


For decades, oil analysis has helped diagnose the internal conditions of oil-wetted components and their lubricants in virtually every industry that involves heavy duty machinery or stationary industrial equipment. Any company that operates equipment using oil, fuel or coolant can realize substantial returns from a minimal investment in this type of testing.

While early oil analysis test methods were shockingly simple, present-day processes employ the most advanced analytical tools and technologies. Commercial oil analysis uses a combination of physical and chemical tests to monitor lubricant and component conditions – much like what we learn when testing blood samples from people.

Why Conduct Oil Analysis?

Oil Analysis Identifies Wear, Contaminant & Additive Elements

Spectrochemical Analysis is the cornerstone of an effective oil analysis program. It detects 21 elements that can represent wear metals, wear corrosion, dirt contamination and oil and coolant additives in the lubricant. This testing can identify problems in their developmental stages allowing equipment managers and maintenance personal to fix small issues before they become major problems or catastrophic failures.

Oil Analysis Monitors Lubricant Physical Properties

Although oil analysis encompasses a wide variety of tests and methodologies, routine testing typically includes Viscosity, Total Acid Number, Total Base Number, Water Content, Soot and Fuel Dilution to determine the effectiveness of anti-wear, dispersant and detergent additive packages.

More advanced oil testing can include Particle Count analysis, which determines fluid cleanliness, Analytical Ferrography, which identifies types of wear occurring and the Rotating Pressure Vessel Oxidation Test (RPVOT), that predicts the fluid’s remaining useful life.

Oil Analysis methodologies are established and continually reviewed by a number of global agencies, including the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) and the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE). Additionally, a variety of oil analysis laboratory and personnel certifications have emerged to ensure the highest levels of oil testing and analytical quality.