Have you ever wondered what’s going on inside the engine of your street rod? We’ve always subscribed to the philosophy “if it isn’t broke don’t fix it” and normally chose to leave well enough alone. And while that theory has actually served us well over the years, curiosity recently got the better of us.
Our normally reliable everyday driver is a Flathead-powered Model A pickup (we’ll pause to give Brennan an opportunity to make snide remarks about the engine choice). Other than a blown head gasket some time ago, the 276-inch V-8 has performed admirably for the last dozen years, accumulating a little over 49,000 miles on the odometer, which has only worked sporadically in all that time.
While there were no signs of trouble, as the engine doesn’t run hot, the oil pressure is good, and oil consumption is negligible, we were still curious about the condition of its internals, particularly since it has a stock bypass oil filter that is only marginally effective. Since we had no intention of dropping the pan just to take a look, we opted to do things the easy way and use the oil analysis service available through AMSOIL INC. By analyzing used engine oil any problem the engine may have can be identified.
The AMSOIL INC. kit
comes with a suction gun, tubing, and instructions for drawing a sample into a plastic bottle. Then the bottle is dropped inside the included mailer and sent off.
When the report is returned it will address issues such as:
Wear metals are measured in parts per million (ppm). The source of these particles in most cases is related to enginecomponent wear. Results from wear metals can indicate if components in the engine are operating in a normal state, nearing failure, or have already failed.
Common contaminants include silicon, sodium, and potassium.
Many of these metals are components within the oil’s additive technology. Molybdenum, antimony, and boron are additives in some oils. Magnesium, calcium and barium are often used in detergent/ dispersant additives. Phosphorous and zinc are used in antiwear additives. Decreases in these metals can be an indicator that the oil’s capacity to protect is also diminishing.
Viscosity, Contaminants, and Degradation:
This section of the analysis shows changes in viscosity; common contaminants such as fuel, water, and soot, as well as the degradation of the oil’s ability to neutralize acids.
Included in the report is a color-coded scale ranging in severity from 0-4. The severity of this report is displayed in a larger box with a number on a colored field.
The comment section includes the analysis of the test results, including maintenance recommendations and feedback from a data analysis team. These comments determine the overall severity of the report, including wear particles, contaminants, multisource metals, and additive metals. Test results will have a colored background that coordinates with the severity of the scale at the top. We scored a 2.
Our report revealed that our engine does exhibit some bearing wear, more than we expected and certainly more that we wanted to see. At this point the report advises that no immediate repairs are necessary, but we will submit another sample in 3,500 miles as recommended to see if there are any changes. We want to make sure we catch any problems, such as bearings that need to be replaced, before doing any real damage like scoring the crankshaft.
For under $35 (which includes pre-paid postage) an oil analysis report is a cheap investigative tool—you don’t have to get your hands dirty and testing may even prevent expensive repairs. For more information check amsoil.com.
This suction pump from AMSOIL INC. is used to draw oil out of the engine through the dipstick tube. A plastic container (not shown) screws into the bottom of the pump.