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Decoding the Lube Oil Analysis Report: Understanding the Test Parameters and what they mean.

The lube oil analysis report is an essential source of information about the condition of both the lubricant and the equipment it is used in. The main aim of the test report is to provide a complete health diagnosis of the oil in an easy-to-read and interpret manner. It consists of extensive data that bolsters the laboratory's overall conclusions and recommendations. It is crucial to give it immediate attention as you can gain valuable insights into the state of your equipment and take the necessary steps to prevent unexpected downtime and costly repairs.

Precision lies in the details: Verify your data

When the sample is received in the lab, a submission form is filled with all the relevant details such as Customer Name, Type and Grade of Lube Oil Sample, and Date of receipt of the sample as well as the product name. All the information provided should be cross-checked and verified as any wrong information can lead to issues in case of a claim situation and the report might not be accepted by third parties. Issues also arise when the correct grade of the sample has not been provided, resulting in incorrect reporting. Other details that should also be checked are batch number, lot number, total tank quantity etc. Running hours of the oil should be clearly mentioned as it can influence the final outcome of the test results.

Understanding the Testing Parameters that keep your machinery running smoothly

Lube oil analysis parameters are like a diagnostic tool that provides a detailed look into the health of the lubricating oil and the engine. By measuring and analyzing various parameters, Technical personnel/engineers can gain insights into the oil's condition, its ability to protect the engine, and potential problems that may be developing.


is a measure of a fluid's resistance to flow, and it is one of the most important parameters to monitor in lubricants.Viscosity affects the ability of the lubricant to form and maintain a film between moving parts. If the viscosity is too low, the lubricant may not provide adequate protection, while if it is too high, it can cause drag or burden to the machinery resulting in increased wear, tear and overheating of the equipment. Lube test results can help to determine if the viscosity of the lubricant is within the desired range.


Water contamination can reduce the lubricating effectiveness of the Lube oil by washing away the oil film that separates moving parts. This can lead to increased friction, wear, and heat generation, which can cause the machinery to operate less efficiently. In addition, water can react with metal surfaces and lubricant additives, leading to rust, corrosion, and oxidation that can damage the machinery. Water contamination can also provide an environment for microbial growth, resulting in sludge, acids, and other contaminants forming.

Total Base Number

The total base number (TBN) indicates the oil's ability to neutralise acidic contaminants that may form during the operation of the machinery. During normal operation, lubricating oil can become contaminated with acidic combustion products, which can lead to the formation of acidic compounds in the oil. These acidic compounds can cause corrosion, wear, and other damage to the machinery, reducing its efficiency and lifespan.

Elemental Spectroscopy / Wear Metals

During normal operation, machinery components such as bearings, gears, and pistons undergo wear and tear, releasing small amounts of metal particles contaminating the lubricating oil. These metal particles, known as wear metals, can cause further damage to the machinery if they accumulate and go undetected. Elemental spectroscopy involves analyzing the lubricating oil for the presence and concentration of various metals, such as iron, copper, aluminium, and lead, typically associated with wear in specific machinery components.


During the diesel engine combustion process, soot particles are produced and are either exhausted into the atmosphere or absorbed by the engine's lubricant. The soot-contaminated lubricant has been shown to produce significant amounts of engine wear. The main mechanism of soot-related wear is through abrasion, but, at increased levels of soot content in the lubricant, starvation of the contact can occur, which can increase wear further. High concentrations of soot can increase the local acidic level and, around the piston where high temperatures and volatile gases coexist, corrosion may also occur.


Oxidation in lubricating oil occurs when water, air and catalytic particulates like iron and copper react and oxidize the hydrocarbons in the oil and convert them to compounds that have low lubrication. The corrosive tendencies of the oil increases and the oil starts the formation of varnish which is detrimental to the oil and the system. Oxidation is perhaps one of the biggest problems in the lubricant. It is responsible for the degradation of the lubricant which causes numerous problems like an increase in viscosity Varnish, sludge and sedimentation formation, Base oil breakdown, Additive depletion Loss of lubricity, Rust formation and corrosion, Filter plugging, Loss in foam control, Increase in Total Acid Number (TAN)

Particle Count

Particle count testing measures the number and size distribution of particles in a lubricating oil sample, which can help maintenance professionals identify the type and severity of contaminants present. High levels of particles can indicate excessive wear, inadequate filtration, or the presence of harmful contaminants such as metal shavings or dirt. By monitoring particle count over time, maintenance professionals can use particle count data to optimize filtration and maintenance schedules of both, the lubricant and machinery.

Interpreting Your Test Results

A normal lube oil analysis report is defined by having all measured parameters fall within established industry standards or the manufacturer's recommendations. For example, the viscosity should fall within the acceptable range specified by the manufacturer or industry standards, while TAN and TBN should reflect the lubricant's ability to neutralize contaminants and maintain its protective properties. Elemental analysis should show low levels of wear metals and no abnormal contaminants, while particle count should be within acceptable limits. A normal report indicates that the lubricant is functioning optimally, and the machinery is running smoothly without any significant issues. Any deviations from the expected values can signify that the lubricant is breaking down or that the machinery is experiencing increased wear and tear, prompting further investigation and corrective action to prevent costly downtime or equipment failure.

To determine appropriate action steps for your specific situation, it's best to work closely with lab technicians and evaluate your sample data. Rather than comparing your data to statistical averages that may not be relevant to your system, monitoring trends in your own data accumulated through regular sampling and analysis of samples with an accredited lab is advisable.

Lube Oil Analysis Report PDF

To keep up with current times and sustainability goals, usually the report is sent out as a soft copy over email and the printing is kept to a minimum and is printed only on request. A Lube oil analysis report PDF is sent out to clients over the mail. The PDF report typically contains a summary of the various lube oil analysis parameters, as well as any recommended actions based on the results. The lube oil analysis pdf may also include recommendations for corrective actions based on the analysis results. For example, in a Marine lube oil analysis report if the analysis report shows high levels of contaminants or degradation in the oil, the report may recommend changing the oil, cleaning the engine, or investigating the source of the problem.

We at Atlas Labs can help you with accurate and timely Lube Oil Testing and Analysis

By using Atlas Lab to routinely check the physical and chemical characteristics and test the condition of your lubricating oils, you receive a valuable report on the condition of the lubricating oil and the operating health of their machinery. We develop individual testing programs to meet your needs and ensure sample collection, shipping, testing and reporting that is quick, efficient and cost-effective. Get in touch with us today.

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