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Oil Test Detects Engine Problems
Testing engine oil to detect potential mechanical problems before they occur has become a regular part of Wayne and Loren Hartung's tractor maintenance program. The Woodbury, Minn., farmers use a relatively little known oil analysis program run by CENEX cooperatives.
The Hartungs take oil samples from their tractors by draining oil from the crankcase drain, or using a syringe to withdraw a sample through the dipstick hole. They send the sample to a lab along with information on the vehicle, type of oil and time since last oil change.
If there's a serious problem, Cenex calls them immediately. Otherwise test results are sent on a computer printout that tells them if there's antifreeze, water or fuel in the oil, and also shows the level of a variety of trace elements. High levels of iron, lead, aluminum, chromium or copper indicate internal wear of rings, cylinders, bearings or pistons. A high level of silicon usually is a result of sand and dust contamination.
Cenex officials say you should analyze oil samples from each truck or tractor at least twice a year to establish a "trend" for the particular vehicle. Some farmers on the program test oil at every oil change. Case, Caterpillar, and Mobil also offer oil analysis programs for farmers.

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1985 - Volume #9, Issue #3