Fluid analysis is more important than ever
By Gino Fontana
Chief Operating Officer and Executive Vice President, Transervice
As originally appeared in FleetOwner Magazine’s IdeaXchange
Supply chain disruptions have resulted in fleets running many of their assets beyond their normal trade cycles. This has made preventive maintenance more important than ever and also makes the need for effective fluid analysis vital.
Fluid analysis allows fleet managers to learn a great deal about the health of their trucks and how well the engines in those trucks are operating. This is one of those instances where a one-size-fits-all approach is ill-advised. You have assets of various classes, models, and ages, and in different duty cycles. Fluid change intervals need to be set based on all those factors. However, a good starting place is the manufacturer’s recommended drain intervals.
The best course of action is to make fluid analysis a regular part of your preventive maintenance plan. Not only will it tell you how your vehicles are performing, but it may allow you to safely extend drain intervals or caution you that you actually need to tighten them up.
While on the surface, fluid sampling seems pretty straightforward, there are some key factors to pay attention to in order to ensure the integrity of the sample. A bad sample will provide inaccurate information.
Give your technicians a refresher course on the proper way to take an oil sample so that the sample does not get contaminated with dirt and grime. Including an oil sample valve in your equipment specs (or installing one after the fact) allows for sampling from the valve rather than having samples taken from the oil pan, which can help with sample integrity.
Remember that when it comes to fluid sampling, it is not one-and-done. Fluid sampling needs to be done on a regular basis. What you are looking for are subtle changes from one sample to the next. Those changes can alert you to developing problems and allow you to address them before they become serious.
When you get an analysis report that indicates there is a problem, take it seriously and take action as soon as you can. Generally, problems do not resolve themselves without some intervention from your technicians. For example, a report of water in the oil is something you need to address immediately.