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Read about the Lubricheck Oil Tester FAQ's and how to use the device.

 

 


 


General FAQ's regarding oil testing

 

FAQ's about using Lubricheck

 

How to use the Lubricheck device

 

 

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» General FAQ's regarding oil testing

How does the Lubricheck work?

The Lubricheck uses a patent pending technology that measures the capacitive and resistive properties of oil. Oil degrades due to mechanical friction, high temperature, high pressure, moisture, oxidation, and absorption of contaminants. These changes cause a change in capacitive and resistive properties. The Lubricheck compares the sample being tested with stored values of fresh oil and displays the results by lighting 1 of 10 LEDs.

 

Can a mechanic or oil change service test my oil for me?

Although few car dealerships, auto repair shops or oil change services own oil testing equipment, if you supply the Lubricheck, most mechanics will be happy to test your oil for you for a nominal fee.

 

Is this the same oil testing technology used by NASCAR pit crews?

Yes, IF the oil tester is based on capacitive sensing. These units are very expensive and can be priced well over $1000 each. Some racing teams have their own spectroscopy type oil quality sensing equipment, which can cost tens of thousands of dollars.

Our firm belief that this technology would be a great benefit to the general public lead us to develop the Lubricheck. The main difference between the Lubricheck and 'high end' oil analyzers is the use of the latest advances in electronic components and innovative design. This compact circuit, mass production and compact package size has allowed an amazing cost reduction, while providing an accurate measurement.

 

Does it measure any type of oil?

The Lubricheck works on standard, synthetic, and standard/synthetic blended motor oils used in diesel and gasoline engines. It is not intended for use with other fluids, such as transmission fluid, brake fluid, etc.

 

Can I use the Lubricheck on engines in ATV’s, lawn mowers, motorcycles etc?

The Lubricheck will analyze oil in any gas powered engine with an oil sump (i.e. four stroke engines) Two stroke engines, (such as those typically used in chain saws, snowmobiles and dirt bikes) do not have oil sumps, so there is no oil to test or change.

 

How do I replace the batteries?

The batteries are easy to replace by twisting a small cap on the back of the unit. It uses two CR2016 'coin type' batteries.

 

How do I clean the Lubricheck?

For an accurate reading, it is important to start with a clean sensor area. Before turning the power switch on, thoroughly wipe off the sensor with a soft rag, cotton swab, tissue or paper towel. You will find a helpful demo video at http://www.lubricheck.com/home/instructions

 

What are the "variables" that affect the life expectancy of oil?

Let's answer this with a scenario.

Grandma has a brand new Toyota Camry with very low mileage. She travels several miles every other day, lives in Southern California, and sometimes goes for a long drive along the freeway to see family. Several hundred miles away, a male teenager buys a used vehicle with 120K miles on the engine, lives in Phoenix, and loves to 'burn rubber' at most stop lights in heavy stop and start city driving in the dry hot summer heat. Common sense tells us that a single metric for oil change wouldn't apply to both vehicles. We don't even know if a 3K mile oil change would even be enough for the second vehicle. This is where the Lubricheck comes in. The Lubricheck will factor in all of these variables, such as:

  • Climate
  • Engine condition
  • Oil type and quality from manufacturer
  • Driving habits
  • Traffic conditions
  • Topography
  • Engine size and type (water cooled vs air cooled, 4, 6 or 8 cylinder, etc.)
  • Engine operating temperature
  • Engine design, materials and manufacturing tolerances
  • Oil capacity of engine (4 quarts will wear out quicker that 8 quarts)

The Lubricheck uncomplicates your life by taking all of these factors into account in a single test, and gives you peace of mind for the life of your vehicle.

 

What started the 3000 mile oil change 'mantra'?

After World War II, existing engine and oil technologies required more frequent oil changes of around 3000 miles. Despite the dramatic progress in both engine and oil technologies over the past half century, this conservative specification has been perpetuated by the self interests of oil companies, auto manufacturers, auto dealers, auto repair shops and oil change companies.

http://videos.howstuffworks.com/medialink/7756-3-000-mile-oil-change-myth-video.htm

 

Are automakers using oil "quality" sensors in newer vehicles?

Several automakers are now equipping their cars with oil quality sensors; GM, BMW and Mercedes Benz to name a few. Other automakers are in the process of adding these devices, such as Ford Motor Co, Toyota, and Mazda. However, most of these 'sensors' do not actually check the quality of the oil, but are primarily based on miles driven. These oil monitor systems help ensure the long term health of the engine by reminding the owner to change their oil only when needed. It is very common for owners of these new vehicles to report recommended oil change intervals exceeding 15,000 miles.

 

What technologies do professional oil testing laboratories use to test oil?

Professional oil testing laboratories typically use spectroscopy, flash point, viscosity and chemical based tests to generate an in-depth analysis of the oil under test. Commercial hand held engine oil testers use capacitive sensing (similar to the Lubricheck) and provide a very good approximation of oil condition.

 

I have always changed my oil at 3000 miles. Why should I change the habit now?

We all care about our vehicles. They are a major investment. If not properly maintained, thousands of added dollars may be spent over the life of these prized possessions to maintain the original look, feel and performance.

Similar to a blood test used to monitor the health of an individual, the regular use of the Lubricheck will provide a much greater understanding of the condition of your engine. Oil breaks down over time due to heat, friction and other factors. Having an understanding of the actual condition of your oil empowers you to decide when it is really necessary to change it. You are now empowered to confidently save hundreds of dollars and dozens of hours normally spent on unnecessary oil changes.

But beyond these cost savings, the Lubricheck will detect the presence of antifreeze, metal particles and other contaminants in the oil. This can serve as an early warning of developing problems, long before more serious engine damage occurs.

 

What do the oil and oil analysis companies recommend as THE level for changing oil?

This is an interesting question, and the answer may surprise many! There is no narrowly defined metric or number recommended by oil analysis companies as to when oil should be changed. (see Blackstone-labs.com). However, a TBN (Total Base Number) of 1 or less is generally accepted as the point at which the oil should be changed. Factoring in the variables described earlier in this F.A.Q provides a scientific basis on which to judge the need for an oil change. Ultimately the decision to change the oil is always left up to the vehicle owner.

The Lubricheck measures oil characteristics based on the variables described earlier, and can confirm and inform your decision to change, or not to change your oil, at a time that is convenient to you.

 

What is a TBN and TAN number?

Simply, the TBN is the 'Total Base Number', and indicates the amount of “alkalinity" in the oil. The higher the number, the better the performance of the oil in the engine. The TAN is the 'Total Acid Number' and is the inverse of the TBN, indicating the amount of "acidity" in the oil.

 

What effect does the oil acidity level have on my engine?

There are many scientific and technical articles addressing this question. Basically, oil with high acidity content becomes more thick or viscous, and loses the ability to suspend contaminants. Additionally, a higher acidity level can cause "pitting" of the cylinder walls, resulting in reduced compression and "blow by", This is manifest by burning of oil, black, smelly exhaust and higher operating temperatures to name a few. It is possible that a vehicle with poor engine condition and high mileage will have a high acid number (TAN) within less than 3000 miles

Some technical articles explaining more about oil acidity may be found as at these links;

What causes the acid level in oil to increase?

Contributing factors to the increase in oil acidity are engine operating temperatures, (influenced by performance demands on the engine and environmental conditions), pressure, friction and time. Other factors that contribute are the presence of contaminants that will cause premature breakdown of the molecular structure of the oil.

 

Are there other factors to oil health that I should know about?

Yes. Contaminants like soot, carbon deposits, moisture build up, coolant, dirt and 'wear metal' particulates (or ions) and fuel are suspended in the oil, and can contribute to a loss of oil quality and engine life. With the exception of fuel, these contaminants will negatively influence the Lubricheck rating of your oil. The presence of fuel in the oil will falsely show a higher quality of your oil. This is one of the reasons we encourage regular testing and recording of your results on our Lubritrack smart phone APP, or on our Lubritrack online service. (Lubritrack will warn you when it finds unexpectedly positive or negative oil test results). If you find the Lubricheck shows your oil quality is improving, or your oil does not decrease in quality after significant mileage, (and you have not replaced the oil filter) your engine may be leaking fuel into the oil pan.

 

I've never seen a product like this on the market before. How do I know it works?

The Lubricheck uses technology already used by the oil testing industry, and by some automakers. But the Lubricheck has been designed and engineered using the latest, most compact electronics to provide an affordable price to fit the budget of any consumer.

 

Is it true that some vehicles can safely go past 15K miles between oil changes?

Absolutely YES. (Taking into consideration the variables discussed earlier in this F.A.Q.)

See http://www.sae.org/technical/papers/981443

 

Are you guys all about saving the planet?

We design and make a reliable product that saves the consumer money, time and empowers the consumer with peace of mind concerning the maintenance of their vehicle. We are happy that your decision to extend your oil change interval will result in better management of petroleum resources, as well as a reduced waste stream of used oil.

 

Why shouldn’t I simply follow my car manufacturer’s recommended oil change intervals?

Historically, manufacturers have conservatively based recommended oil change intervals solely on mileage. This is because there has been no reasonable alternative to know the actual oil condition. In recent years, as electronic sensor technology has advanced, many auto makers have opted to add these sensors to their engines to more accurately indicate when an oil change is needed. Alternatively, General Motors introduced a system several years ago that does not measure the quality of oil at all, but recommends oil changes based on collected engine data, environmental factors and driving habits. These advances have led to present day oil change intervals exceeding 15,000 miles in cars under warranty.

The Lubricheck acts much like these on-board sensors, and will give you real-time analysis of what your oil is really like, and when your oil should be changed.

 

 

 


 

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» FAQ's about using Lubricheck

What does the range of LEDs (lights) mean on the Lubricheck?

The GREEN zone means that the oil is healthy to use. ORANGE means that it’s coming up time for a recommended oil change. RED (slow blinking) indicates it’s time to change your oil and RED (fast blinking) recommends urgent attention.

 

Can I CHOOSE which LED level to change my oil?

Absolutely. Your decision as to when it is time for an oil change should be based on the variables described earlier in this F.A.Q. You may choose an LED level that suits you and your vehicle based on the way you drive it, your own peace of mind, desired financial savings, and other benefits. Lubricheck simply gives you the information to make a secure, informed choice!

 

Do I have to wait for the flashing RED LED before I should change my oil?

The Lubricheck has been engineered to let you know within a safe tolerance when you should change your oil. However, as the vehicle owner, you are free to select an LED setting of your choice and use that as a frame of reference when deciding to perform the next oil change.

 

How do i replace the batteries?

The batteries are easy to replace by twisting a small cap on the back of the unit. It uses two CR2016 'coin type' batteries.

 

How do I clean the Lubricheck?

For an accurate reading, it is important to start with a clean sensor area. Before turning the power switch on, thoroughly wipe off the sensor with a soft rag, cotton swab, tissue or paper towel.

 

Why does my Lubricheck repeatedly blink LEDs 7-8-9 in sequence? Is this my oil rating?

This is an error code. It can mean one of the following: 1. The oil sensor was not clean enough when the unit was turned on. (The cup should be cleaned before each use to remove dust and possible oil film from earlier tests. Do not place oil on the sensor until after LED 1 and 2 begin to blink alternately). 2. The oil sample was added to soon. Wait several seconds until all LEDs scan up and down, and LED 1 and 2 begin to blink alternately.

 

After I press the test button, the unit goes dead! Where is my oil rating?

Most likely you did not wait long enough before shutting the Lubricheck off. The Lubricheck will take up to 20 seconds to display oil rating LED after the oil sample is added, and the test button is pressed briefly. This final LED indicates the quality of your oil. This rating will continue to blink until you turn off the unit. (It is normal for all the LEDs to light in sequence after the test button is pressed. This indicates the test is under way. It takes up to 20 seconds for the microprocessor to grade your oil).

 


 

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