Many of our customers are not sure if they want to do a full engine survey given the cost. Our recommendation is to at the very minimum perform an oil sample. Oil analysis has been used successfully to determine the internal condition of machinery since the 1940s.
Oil analysis is not witchcraft; Test procedures are established and reviewed by such agencies as the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM), and the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE): Oil analysis is a proven diagnostic tool.
Engines and machinery are built from several different metals; including iron, aluminum, copper, chromium, silver, magnesium, molybdenum, tin, vanadium, zinc, boron, nickel, and lead. These metals are used in different components of engines and machinery.
By analyzing what metals are present in a properly obtained sample of oil, a competent lab can determine if anything is wearing excessively and why.
Analysis can also determine the presence of contaminants in the oil. Fresh water, salt water, antifreeze, fuel, and other contaminants can alert the surveyor to specific areas of concern.
The specific characteristics of oil can also be determined by laboratory analysis. Oxidation, sulfur content, soot content, PH, and other factors can be quantified.
Physical and spectrochemical analysis of properly obtained oil samples can provide information that could otherwise only be determined by completely disassembling the machinery.
We have boats with newer engines still under warranty with bad oil sample readings. The owner did not know of any problems with his boat. After the results we shown to the engine manufacture, they replaced the engine and the new buyer received a brand new engine!