Error Source Analysis: Engine Oils

Year of publication: 2003

OELCHECK is on the trail of wear. We decipher the message of the oil with our lubricant analyses. With their personal diagnosis, the experts from OELCHECK provide valuable information on irregularities and impending damage. A detailed examination of the engine or the affected machine should then be the consequence.

For a quick and most efficient check-up, OELCHECK has summarized many of the possible causes in a large guide to fault source analysis for engines, gears and hydraulics. You can find the error source analysis for engine oils in this article.

Table of contents

  1. Problem: Silicon or dust
  2. Problem: Overheating of the engine, water or glycol in the oil
  3. Problem: Too much diesel, RME or gasoline
  4. Problem: Remarkably high wear
  5. Problem: High levels of soot, nitration or sulfation

Problem: Silicon or dust

  • Air filter defective because it was improperly blown out
  • Air filter is not properly fitted and therefore does not seal
  • Wrong air filter size for the housing (not an original part)
  • Broken or deformed air filter in the housing
  • Intake manifold, air intake duct or supply hose from air filter to engine damaged
  • Intake pipe leaking, hose clamps from intake hose not tightened
  • Air line to turbocharger leaking
  • Vacuum valve no longer sits correctly
  • Sealing (O-rings) of injection nozzles in gasoline engines brittle
  • Connection between crankcase and air filter (crankcase ventilation) is faulty
  • Missing oil dipstick, seal on oil dipstick missing
  • Incorrect or missing closure of the oil filler neck
  • Incorrect oil storage – standing barrels with open or dirty openings
  • Filling up oil with dirty refill cups
  • Incorrect sampling
  • Sandblasting work carried out
  • Subsequent addition of silicone-containing additive
  • Silicon is an alloying component of aluminum and thus possibly a wear element in all-aluminum engines
  • Up to 15 mg/kg silicon is already in the fresh oil as an antifoam additive
  • In new or repaired engines, silicon may be a component of silicone-containing assembly pastes or sealants.

Problem: Overheating of the engine, water or glycol in the oil

  • Faulty cylinder head gasket, cracks in cooling circuit
  • Long idle or partial load operation in cool weather conditions
  • Faulty thermostat, temperature or water level indicator leaking
  • Cooling fins blocked, deposits in radiator
  • Defective water pump seal, damaged bearing
  • Defective water hose (pressurize system and check for leaks)
  • Cooling water level too low
  • Pressure compensation valve in the cap defective
  • Ventilator fan belt slips
  • Cooling fan thermostat is not working properly, engine is permanently overloaded, incorrect cooler design
  • Cooling ribs in air-cooled engines are occupied, dirt deposits on the engine
  • Air enters the cooling system
  • Cooling water pump sucks air
  • Mixing of incompatible cooling liquids
  • Incorrect ratio of cooling water protection (glycol) with water
  • Pressure test cooling system to find leakage
  • Remove engine oil sump and then pressurize system
  • Check cylinder head gasket
  • Check o-rings as "wet" cylinder liner seals
  • Leaking water-cooled oil cooler
  • Cylinder liner broken or defective
  • Blind holes for stud bolts have hairline cracks
  • Condensate due to too low operating temperature
  • Rainwater in the fresh oil barrel due to incorrect storage
  • Refilling with vessel that is also used to refill cooling water
  • Steam blasting work with too high pressure in the sealing area
  • Water in the sample bottle that has been rinsed out with water
  • Condensate due to extended downtime

Problem: Too much diesel, RME or gasoline

  • Was the sampling carried out correctly? (sampling pump, sampling hose or sample bottle previously flushed with fuel)
  • Problems with fuel supply, leakage line, seals on pump
  • Faulty injection pump or dripping plug-in pump
  • Worn injection nozzles, uneven spray pattern due to water or dirt in fuel
  • Crusty deposits of oil additives on the nozzles because engine oil gets into the fuel
  • Long idle times in cool weather, cooling water temperature too low
  • Extended operating times under minimum load
  • Incorrect switching of the water thermostat
  • Defective seals or O-rings of the injection nozzles
  • Fuel pump or injection pump incorrectly adjusted
  • Mixed fuel, such as diesel with RME, burns worse
  • Contaminated fuel containing water or bacteria
  • Faulty automatic engine management, incorrect valve settings

Problem: Remarkably high wear

  • Are there unusual wear and contamination particles in the oil or air filter?
  • Are there any noticeable noises when starting?
  • Is the oil level too low?, is the oil pump sucking air?
  • Is the oil pressure sufficient?
  • Are the oil pump, oil pressure sensor and pressure relief valve OK?
  • Is there overheating?
  • Has coarse-grained dust penetrated?
  • Is the oil too thin due to too much fuel?
  • Has the oil become too thick due to oxidation or soot?
  • Was the wrong type of oil used?
  • Was the oil sample taken from the oil filter?
  • Are there too many blow-by gases causing the pressure in the crankcase to rise?
  • Is the compression still optimal?
  • Is the valve clearance and timing correct?
  • Does piston seizure due to uneven spray pattern from the jets occur?

Problem: High levels of soot, nitration or sulfation

  • Imperfect combustion because not enough air is getting through the filter or intake system
  • Problems with the exhaust system, damaged pipe or axle back exhaust, exhaust gas back pressure too high
  • Fuel supply disturbed (faulty injection)
  • Faulty turbocharger
  • Too low compression and extreme blow-by
  • Too long filter life, clogged main flow filter
  • No bypass filtration due to defective valve on bypass filter
  • Extremely low operating temperature, faulty cooling system, hanging cooling water thermostat
  • Oil change intervals that are too long
  • Unsuitable, contaminated, high-sulfur fuel
  • Off-specification or fully inter-esterified RME or FAME as diesel substitute