Jon Woetzel, Technical Sales Manager, CHS Lubricants
It’s planting season, which means it’s time to dust off the equipment and get in the fields. But before breaking ground, now is the time for farmers to lean into preventive maintenance and ensure the rest of the season goes as smoothly as possible. One easy and effective maintenance measure farmers can take is to conduct an oil analysis.
“An oil analysis is truly a blood test for your engine,” says Jon Woetzel, technical service manager for CHS Lubricants. “You can stare at the outside of your equipment all you want, but until you perform an oil analysis you’ll have no idea what’s actually going on inside.”
How an oil analysis works
Conducting an oil analysis is simple: Farmers just need to take an oil sample and mail it in using a kit like LubeScan®, which can be purchased at many Cenex® brand dealers and CHS cooperatives. Test results are then mailed back and include any potential diagnoses that could spell engine trouble.
“We recommend conducting an oil analysis every time you change the oil,” Woetzel says. “It’s easier to take a sample when you’re already draining the machinery.” Woetzel also recommends farmers consult their owner’s manual or their local dealer for specific direction on how to properly take an oil sample.
Learn more about how to properly and safely take an oil sample.
What an oil analysis does
“An oil analysis tells farmers the overall health of the engine and what state it’s in,” Woetzel says. “You can tell by the results whether a piece of equipment is going through just normal wear and tear or if there’s something potentially devastating going on.” A regular maintenance routine can end up saving downtime and dollars down the line, Woetzel also mentions.
When reviewing an oil analysis, Woetzel says five key indicators identify and determine the health of farmers’ equipment:
- The level of wear metals in the oil. Engines are made of steel and other metal alloys, which means as they are used, some metal naturally ends up in the lubricant. However, if an irregular level of wear metal is present, it can imply strenuous engine use. “This result can indicate that your lubricant has been compromised by the presence of a contaminant or an engine component is simply wearing out or failing with age and may need replacing.” Woetzel says. “Which wear metals are present also shows you where in the engine there may be issues.”
- Contaminants are any material that shouldn’t be present in the oil. The presence of excess dirt and dust can indicate a faulty air filter. Coolant or anti-freeze indicates a leak between the coolant and engine oil systems, which can cause your oil to thicken and lose its lubricating properties.
- Additive chemistry is the performance make-up of a lubricant. This is essentially the fingerprint of the oil currently in use
- Fuel percentage indicates how much diesel has leaked into the oil. Too much fuel can thin out the product and effectively destroy the oil’s ability to lubricate. A high fuel percentage can also predict faulty engine parts. “Too much fuel is a concern because fuel is just not a good lubricant,” Woetzel says.
- Soot levels show whether there is an improper mix in the air-to-fuel ratio. This issue can cause excessive wear within the engine.
In addition to getting an early diagnosis, regular oil analyses can pay off down the line when getting ready to sell used equipment. “A potential buyer will be much more comfortable if they can see for themselves the engine’s health history and whether it’s always been in working order,” Woetzel says.
Farmers willing to commit to a few simple maintenance practices, including a regular oil analysis, can also reap the benefits in the form of a warranty. The Cenex Total Protection Plan® offers variable plans for both used and new equipment, and with no deductible and a simple claim process, farmers are given the coverage they need and peace of mind they deserve.
“An oil analysis is a pretty minimal investment of time and cost,” Woetzel says. “A few dollars upfront can identify problems before they become catastrophic.”
For more insights from Jon Woetzel, visit the Cenexperts® blog.