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Old 08-26-2003, 09:13 AM   #1
Charlie
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Default Oil Analysis

Last week changed the oil in my wife's forester, and before doing that had some questions about whether I needed to change the crush ring on the oil plug with a Subaru, and got some good info from people here about that (thanks guys).

As part of that I sent the oil out for anlysis, to a place called Blackstone labs. It's $20 for a basic report and $10 extra if you want a TBN (total base number) which basically tells you whether the oil had any additional life left in it when you pulled it out o the car. I guess some people use that info to see if they can extend their oil change interval. I guss looking at extending your oil change interval could potentially make sense if you had a fleet of vehicles to look after, but for me I was just interested in seeing how the oil was doing.

The link to their site is:

http://www.blackstone-labs.com/

And they'll send you a free sample collection kit which you can use to mail in your oil. There's a lot more info on their website, including a sample report showing what kind of info you can get on your car.

I'm not associated with these guys in any way. I just thought it was cool that you can have this kind of info on how your engine is doing for a reasonable price.

My view on it is that I'll probably wanna do this something like once per year per car. You can see whether there are any concerns over the amount of metals present (indication of wear), whether the oil filtration system is doing a good job, whether there is anything abnormal like water or fuel or coolant in your oil, etc... For me I figure it's good info to have as part of your overall maintenance program, not to mention that if you had, for example, coolant making its way into your oil, that's the kind of thing you probably wanna know before your engine warranty expires.

I couldn't figure out a way to copy the tables into this post in a way that was clear, but here's a copy of the "comments" section of the report they sent me.

********Report : Comments Section ****************

CHARLIE: No problems showed up in the initial sample from your Subaru. All wear read at or close
to averages for this type of engine, which is a very good indication of normal wearing parts. Universal
averages show normal wear after about 3,500 miles on the oil. Insolubles (oil oxidation due to heat,
use and blow-by) were low at 0.2%, showing good oil filtration. No fuel dilution or anti-freeze was
found. The TBN was okay at 2.4, showing some active additive left. A low reading is less than 1.0.
At 45,000 total miles, this engine appears to be doing well.

**********************End of comments section **********

Hope that's of some use to people.

Charlie
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Old 08-26-2003, 10:02 AM   #2
heffergm
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What brand/viscosity of oil were your running in the forrester?
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Old 08-26-2003, 10:11 AM   #3
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Yeah, more numbers and other info.
If you can't copy/paste, just type everything out.
Here's mine posted in the wrong forum.

-Dennis
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Old 08-26-2003, 10:12 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally posted by heffergm
What brand/viscosity of oil were your running in the forrester?
The weight was 5/30 but I am unsure of the brand. Dinosaur oil though, not synthetic. The oil that was in there was installed by the shop my wife usually takes her car to. I'm sure it's ok stuff and all, and the engine seems to have done OK with it, but I thought I'd start running mobil 1 in there, which is what I put in with this oil change.

Charlie
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Old 08-26-2003, 12:17 PM   #5
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I, too, had my oil analyzed by Blackstone. I wanted to post the PDF file they send, but it has tons of personal info I would prefer to keep private & haven't figured out how edit that part of the Acrobat file yet...
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Old 08-27-2003, 07:38 PM   #6
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I was surprised when suddenly companies were recommending 3,500 miles intervals for oil changes. I didn't use 7,500 as it was too long but I always thought the 3,500 was too short. Until I remembered and saw the same engine (or similar) in 3rd world countries recommended 5,000 km intervals (3,125 mi) between oil changes. I concluded that it was a means to convince people here to use the shorter interval and spend more money when I thought they didn't have to. I can cover 3,500 miles in short order and I'd see that the oil would still be quite clean. So I still use 5,000 as my interval. I do use synthetic oil and will continue to do so until I get rid of the car.

Also, an observation, I was able to view an internal report from Honda regarding the long term use of K&N type filters. The filtration capability is not as good as a stock or an oiled foam (itg style) filter but the filter flows more air. Their study indicated that there is more material being allowed through and increasing ring/cylinder wall wear. Their report indicated a higher silicone content in the oil indicative of more abrasive material being allowed through and reducing overall engine life. This report was the result of testing numerous aftermarket components being sold and installed by their dealerships. What the end result of this report will do is anyone's guess but I feel that it isn't going to be good for the enduser at some point. Honda hasn't said anything about this outwardly to any of the aftermarket manufacturers but I think it will only be a matter of time.

I introduce this information as food for thought for anyone who is concerned about long term implications.
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Old 08-28-2003, 02:21 PM   #7
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Default Great idea?

I was just wondering..........

Although there are MANY variables such as oil brands, driving styles, frequency of oil changes, climates, mileage, the lab used, etc., I would be VERY interested in participating in a study, survey or pole of some sort that would show if there is a difference in engine wear between those Subaru engines that are mechanically quiet VS. those in which SUBARU installed the 'PISTON SLAP" feature!!!!

Since not ALL of our engines make this noise, and on those that do......not all of the pistons make the noise, and other opposed engines (as in my BMW motorcycle opposed air/oil cooled twin, Honda opposed 4 and 6 cylinder motorcycle engines, (not sure about Porche) etc.) don't have this "feature", I think it would be a great idea to try to do something with this in the form of oil analysis.

Any comments?

Last edited by Columbo; 08-28-2003 at 03:52 PM.
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Old 08-28-2003, 03:37 PM   #8
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Well... in a certain sense you get a similar kind of comparison from Blackstone labs. They compre the data form your oil to universal norms for the same engine type. I suppose it might be good to ask them how much data they are basing their universal norms on to address your question, but basically, you get a reading on how much of each metal type was found in your oil alonside a comparison of the normal amounts they usually find for that type of engine. If there is anything significantly different, it may show up there. You may also want to pay the extra $10 in such a case to show what kind of shape your oil is in. That way, if there is a larger than expected level of a particular type of metal in your oil, having the TBN will tell you if that's because you ran the oil too long (something you might imagine a car maker might suggest if presented with such data....).

It's just a possibility, and it's also true that since there is a fair bit of variation in the "universal" population, it may not be the most sensitive test in the world. But likely it would tell you if something about your car was grossly out of line with expected wear patterns. I'd give them a call and see what they think about that possibility.

Charlie
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Old 08-28-2003, 04:12 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally posted by thng
I was surprised when suddenly companies were recommending 3,500 miles intervals for oil changes. I didn't use 7,500 as it was too long but I always thought the 3,500 was too short. Until I remembered and saw the same engine (or similar) in 3rd world countries recommended 5,000 km intervals (3,125 mi) between oil changes. I concluded that it was a means to convince people here to use the shorter interval and spend more money when I thought they didn't have to. I can cover 3,500 miles in short order and I'd see that the oil would still be quite clean. So I still use 5,000 as my interval. I do use synthetic oil and will continue to do so until I get rid of the car.
5 years or so ago, Consumer Reports did a big test of oils, trying to prove or disprove the 3000 mile change idea. They did their testing in New York City cabs, that have some of the worst conditions and treatment. Their results -- 7500 mile changes worked well for the taxicabs; 3000 was overkill.
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Old 08-28-2003, 04:23 PM   #10
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Actually, everyone thinks "Taxi's... they get beat to $U#". And they do, except...
They run constantly all day long. Lots of stop and go driving, yes, but they don't heat cycle anywhere near as much as your average person's car. The oil is hot all the time, meaning far less buildup of crap in the oil resulting from short drives to the store, school, whatever.
So take that study with a grain of salt.
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Old 08-28-2003, 05:20 PM   #11
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Thanks for sharing the info with us Charlie.

- Kean
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Old 08-29-2003, 03:03 AM   #12
Charlie
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Quote:
Originally posted by Kean
Thanks for sharing the info with us Charlie.

- Kean
No Problem. I thought it was kinda cool so hope others find it useful also.

Charlie
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Old 08-29-2003, 09:57 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally posted by thng

Also, an observation, I was able to view an internal report from Honda regarding the long term use of K&N type filters. The filtration capability is not as good as a stock or an oiled foam (itg style) filter but the filter flows more air. Their study indicated that there is more material being allowed through and increasing ring/cylinder wall wear. Their report indicated a higher silicone content in the oil indicative of more abrasive material being allowed through and reducing overall engine life.
I have an Amsoil and I was getting a lot of Silicone.
Check out my UOA on Bobistheoilguy.com
It was about a month away from being due for a cleaning, but I think I'm switching back to an OEM air filter.

Colombo, Do a search for Subaru's on the website that I linked. One guy there has a huge spreadsheet with different Subaru results.

-Dennis
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Old 08-30-2003, 12:15 PM   #14
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Thumbs up

Dennis,

Thanks for the link to that site. I've been trying to educate myself more about oil and just from reading that single thread I at least picked up enough info to .... well... not that I can say I learned much yet but I at least have some questions. For example there was a reference there to certain viscosities being better for a wrx engine but probably not at all suitable for a v8... and of course now I'm curious about what's optimally suitable for a W8 (and of course why that is...). Again thanks for the link. Looks like that's gonna turn out to be a great source of info.

Charlie
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Old 08-30-2003, 07:46 PM   #15
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thng - You are running synthetic oil. It does not break down like dino oil and has different characteristics. 5k on synthetic is different than 5k of the same type driving miles on dino. Synthetic is not supposed to break down and in theory, just by changing the filter on the car or filtering the used oil it will clean itself up and go another 5K. Note I said in theory. 3K oil changes are a recommendation for hard driving/extreme conditions. If you read the owners manual it says this and for normal driving recommends longer intervals. Of course an oil change place will always tell you the lower mileage because (a)the don't know how you drive and are liable for damages and/or (b)they are in the business to make money and having you come back sooner is good for them.

On the subject of oil testing. It is a useful tool, but you need a baseline to go by for your particular car and oil brand/type. To be truly effective you'd need to do an analysis just about every time you change your oil so you can make a proper evaluation on things such as wear, air filter/oil filter effectivness, or engine damage. To say that an oil analysis is showing that a K&N filter is making your oil dirty is crazy. What is the basis for this explanation? High silicone? Silicone is also a lubricant and could possibly be an additive or be contained in the brand/type oil you are using. If the filter is maintained properly you will have no problems. I have 2 filters currently in my 99 RS due to the way Subaru put it together. One filter in the fender box (that I replaced with a K&N) and the filter at the throttle body. at 78k, I have yet to change the throttle body filter as it is still as clean as the day I picked up the car. I have washed and oiled the K&N twice and it was filthy. No MAF problems either.
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Old 08-31-2003, 02:17 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally posted by Keith99RS

On the subject of oil testing. It is a useful tool, but you need a baseline to go by for your particular car and oil brand/type. To be truly effective you'd need to do an analysis just about every time you change your oil so you can make a proper evaluation on things such as wear, air filter/oil filter effectivness, or engine damage. To say that an oil analysis is showing that a K&N filter is making your oil dirty is crazy. What is the basis for this explanation? High silicone? Silicone is also a lubricant and could possibly be an additive or be contained in the brand/type oil you are using. If the filter is maintained properly you will have no problems. I have 2 filters currently in my 99 RS due to the way Subaru put it together. One filter in the fender box (that I replaced with a K&N) and the filter at the throttle body. at 78k, I have yet to change the throttle body filter as it is still as clean as the day I picked up the car. I have washed and oiled the K&N twice and it was filthy. No MAF problems either.
Ya I'd agree that you have to do it a lot inorder to achieve great precision, but ... a couple points:

1. I guess I figure that the comparison that they provide to universal averages for the same type engine provides a useful guideline. If my oil comes out higher than average for any of the stuff they look at I'd be at least curious about the potential causes and take a look at any mods I may have done that coudl be behind it, and probably undo them at least temporarily to see if that helps, and then I'd follow that up with more analysis after the changes to see if it's getting better, worse, maybe it was a one off thing that just had to do with the way I pulled that one sample or whatever...

2. When people suspect that the air filter may not be doing a sufficient job, that's in response to a high reading for silicon (Si), not silicone. These are very different things. Silicon is a naturally ocurring element, used for making semiconductor chips and found in sand, hence the connection with air filtration. Silicone is not an element but a molecule (a rather large man made one iirc...been a long time for me since chem class...). Anyway ya that stuff is used in all kinds of rubber seals and stuff. I'm pretty sure they don't check for silicone as part of the analysis.

So... ya a lot of debate about k&n filters resulting from oil analysis it seems. I haven't done the analysis on my W8 yet (which currently has a k&n) but if it does come out high for Si, I'll pull the k&n and see if that makes a difference. Especially if the resutls also indicate higher than average ring wear (chromium). That'll be harder to tell for me really since my engine is still new enough (13k miles) that I could have higher than average metals due to some amount of break-in still going on, since it goes longer if you use synth from the get-go, as VW requires for this engine (~ 9+ quarts per oil change ).

Charlie
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Old 08-31-2003, 03:05 PM   #17
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My bad with the silicon/silicone thing. I was responding to the earlier post which silicone was written.
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Old 08-31-2003, 10:37 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally posted by Keith99RS
thng - You are running synthetic oil. It does not break down like dino oil and has different characteristics. 5k on synthetic is different than 5k of the same type driving miles on dino. Synthetic is not supposed to break down and in theory, just by changing the filter on the car or filtering the used oil it will clean itself up and go another 5K. Note I said in theory. 3K oil changes are a recommendation for hard driving/extreme conditions. If you read the owners manual it says this and for normal driving recommends longer intervals. Of course an oil change place will always tell you the lower mileage because (a)the don't know how you drive and are liable for damages and/or (b)they are in the business to make money and having you come back sooner is good for them.
I was never worried about synthetic oil. Its the insolubles content the by products of combustion in the oil. Like diesel oil, which gets dark in minutes, combustion in gas engines is not as dirty and oil takes longer to get dirty except when the gas engine is deteriorated quite severely. Even Blackstone Lab reports will also indicate the insoluble content in the oil and would recommend an oil change if the insolubles were high enough even if the oil were still in good conditon and could've gone another 3K miles.

However, as far as the genuine concern of oil change facility for the condition of your car or your personal well being. I will never hold them in high regard for any reason.
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Old 09-02-2003, 12:35 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally posted by Keith99RS
3K oil changes are a recommendation for hard driving/extreme conditions. If you read the owners manual it says this and for normal driving recommends longer intervals.
The WRX manual recommends every 3750 (for severe driving) after the first oil change. Is it different for the other models?
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Old 09-02-2003, 01:36 PM   #20
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Yeah, I meant Silicon.

If your curious about the amount of additives in a particular oil, you can do a Virgin Oil Analysis.

-Dennis
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Old 09-03-2003, 08:02 PM   #21
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Kean - I was using 3k as an approximate because I didn't feel the need to run out to my car and read the owner's manual. In fact I still don't feel like running out to the car. If you drive your car according to the owner's manual criteria for severe driving, then use that interval. If not, use the non severe interval. Pretty darn simple.
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Old 09-03-2003, 08:32 PM   #22
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Quote:
Originally posted by Keith99RS
Kean - I was using 3k as an approximate because I didn't feel the need to run out to my car and read the owner's manual. In fact I still don't feel like running out to the car. If you drive your car according to the owner's manual criteria for severe driving, then use that interval. If not, use the non severe interval. Pretty darn simple.
.....just trying to help Keith.
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