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Predetermined oil intervals and what to check in oil analysis

Bruce Mallinson | October 31, 2013
Oil analysis is the best way to keep track of how your engine is wearing.

Oil analysis is the best way to keep track of how your engine is wearing.

As a responsible truck owner, you should change your oil at predetermined intervals. Oil analysis provides great information and is the best way to keep track of how your engine is wearing.


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The two items I eyeball in the oil are the iron and silicone, which is ingested dirt getting past the air filter(s); these two contaminants will wear out the engine quickly. I prefer to see iron at 20 parts per million, but that’s a conservative number, and I can live with 60 ppm, which would come at about 50,000 miles. Going 200,000 miles on engine oil is out of the question in my book.

In oil analysis, we also look at the levels of:

  • Chromium, which is piston ring wear;
  • Lead, which comes from the main and rod bearings;
  • Copper, which comes from bushings, bearings and thrust washers;
  • Tin, coming from bearings and bushings again; and
  • Aluminum, which comes from some pistons, bearings and thrust washers.

Oil is the lifeblood of the engine, and you shouldn’t let it get too dirty. Mechanics get to see inside the engines, and every mechanic I know changes their oil frequently – and that is on a pickup or family sedan. Do your engine – and your wallet – the service of ensuring you change your oil when you should.

-Bruce Mallinson is the owner of Pittsburgh Power, an engine performance shop in Saxonburg, Pa. 

  • Ken Nilsen

    Bruce, you make your money doing things the old way. If you use the old formulations made from dinosaurs then yes change your oil and pay through the nose. Or, you can come into the 21st century. Drain the dinosaur fluid out of the engine when it is new, put in a true, FULL, synthetic, run your oil analysis, change your filters and replenish at normal intervals and only do a full oil change at 250,000 miles or more. As long as you continue to use low grade oils, manufactured from the cheapest basestocks then you will live in the old days.

  • AL Bianco

    Wonder if you are a trucker,and if you are,you are the Very First ,i’ve heard in my 40 years in Vehicle technologies,that has hit it on the head. If not,it still leads me to believe that,operating costs are finally getting Maint.mgrs., to look out for themselves,instead of listening to Shops which have no time to uo-date their recommendations. You might also add to your FULL synthetic explanation ,an explanation that full means 100%; or P A O Polymers; or Group IV API class, lubes, as most synthetic claims are Petroleum Group III+ BLENDS,and have very little more Oxidative capacity,which extend Lube Life. P A O’s can extend lube life by 2-3 times,and Sampling proves it,when the sample report comes back saying”Sample at Next Interval”. Bruce did make good explanations on how to interpret a report, as most managers do not have time to really understand these reports.

  • Ken Nilsen

    Yes, I use a PAO Group IV full synthetic. I also incorporate a bypass filter into the system. I have owned my own trucks for over 15 years now and this has been my practice.

  • mousekiller

    I have 1, 600,000 miles on my Detroit S60 500 hp.. I use Mobile Delvac 15-40 super 1300. Would you recommend switching to synthetic oil or continue with how i am going now. I have yet to install a bypass but am seriously looking into it. Been thinking about it but did not want to create a problem unnecessarily. strives to maintain an open forum for reader opinions. Click here to read our comment policy.