Lubricheck oil tester – Click above to watch video after the jump

Most of us maintain our vehicles either by the manufacturer's recommended service intervals or some arcane calendar handed down from generation to generation. Either way, changing a vehicle's oil is usually done on either a time or mileage basis, not the actual level of oil degradation inside the engine. A new startup project is looking to change that for the consumer with a device called the Lubricheck. Simply plop a few drops of oil onto the device's sensor, and it can automatically detect contaminates like metal and antifreeze as well as the acidity of the oil to determine the lubricant's serviceability.

The device even has settings for traditional and synthetic oils, so all of your bases are covered. Devices like these already exist in the market, but they cost a pretty penny and are typically relegated to the dark recesses of high-end mechanics' toolboxes. The individuals behind Lubricheck estimate that in some applications, oil could last as long as 10,000 miles before seeing significant breakdown. If true, the device could help seriously curtail our nation's engine oil intake.

Hit the jump to take a look at the introduction video for yourself. If you like what you see, the project is currently seeking backers.



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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 26 Comments
      third3ye82
      • 3 Years Ago
      *Looks at the instruction text* STD oil type? I wouldn't touch that!
      Greg Smith
      • 3 Years Ago
      It's like diabeetus testing for your car!
      Paul P.
      • 3 Years Ago
      We do an oil analysis with our fleet, which tells us how many hours/miles we can expect to get out of the type of oil we use. However, this would be great for spot checks in between oil changes so we can ensure that the oil is still performing as expected without having to drain and send away for an analysis. If it only requires a drop or two of oil, it would be great to be able to test oil quality just by a drop or two from the dip-stick.
      Jeremy Pennini
      • 3 Years Ago
      Is this a single use device or can it be cleaned and used again? If it can be used multiple times, then they can have my $30.
      Hazdaz
      • 3 Years Ago
      This seems utterly pointless since more and more cars have oil-monitoring systems built in.
        Tom
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Hazdaz
        Those only monitor based on engine use, though -- more like counting the hours the engine has run, and at what load. It's completely different from actually measuring the quality of the oil. If you think your "oil life" indicator is telling you that, you've been deceived.
          Hazdaz
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Tom
          Those existing monitors wouldn't be there if they didn't give a good indication of how the oil is doing. The liability would be huge for them if they told you not to change your oil for 15k miles and its all turned to gunk. If engineers test enough batches of oil run at 3k, 6k, 9k, 12k+ miles at various conditions (temp, runtime, fuel & air consumption), chances are they'd be able to make some very good predictions as to what percent of the oil's life.
          SloopJohnB
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Tom
          Hazdaz...unfortunately they ønly give a good indication if you stay within the parameters of the algorithm. One case in point where the algorithm failed was Mercedes' use of non-synthetics in north american cars/engines that had the oil monitoring system with an algorithm based on SYNTHETIC oil. Garbage in, garbage out. As it happened, Mercedes DID have a huge liability for those cars/engines that used nonsynthetic vice synthetic. It's still appalling to me that every car sold in north america doesn't use synthetic from the factory with a requirement to use synthetic ever after. It's time.
        KDAWG
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Hazdaz
        They don't monitor the oil itself, just time/mileage/conditions to try to judge the best oil change. It would be great to actually check the status of the oil.
        longducdong
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Hazdaz
        But for people like me who dont have the system, this is a nice device to have.
        cullinaire
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Hazdaz
        ...while conveniently ignoring the millions upon millions of existing cars on the road that don't. Do (some of) those cars get their oil changed regularly? Among those, might some get changed more often than necessary? Probably. I use synthetic and would love to have one of these if they work as promised. Probably would pay for itself real quick.
        JGuan
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Hazdaz
        Some, but not all systems only recommend oil changes based on the amount of fuel you have consumed.
        SloopJohnB
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Hazdaz
        Yes, but that oil monitoring system doesn't monitor the oil! It uses an algorithm to estimate oil change requirement based on engine operating parameters such as number of cold starts, whether the oil made it to 180–210F and for how long, length of operation at high temperature, engine rpms, etc. etc. This appears to be a direct analysis of the oil rather than a guess.
      • 3 Years Ago
      [blocked]
        SloopJohnB
        • 3 Years Ago
        We don' need no steenkin' deepsteeck!
        dougs2k
        • 3 Years Ago
        Umm, you could just gauge your oil level with the dipstick you just pulled out of your engine to drip onto that oil reader.. just sayin.
          Dan
          • 3 Years Ago
          @dougs2k
          *IF* your car came with one. I'll let that soak in for a second.... Yes, some cars are coming WITHOUT dipsticks, and if you try to order one through the dealer, it's treated like a dealer-only tool. (I'm looking at you, Sindelfingen.)
          • 3 Years Ago
          @dougs2k
          [blocked]
      SloopJohnB
      • 3 Years Ago
      Wow...amsoil synthetic has been proven to last over 100,000 miles with spectrometric oil analysis, six month oil filter changes (and top–off/oil filter capacity addition), and bypass oil filtration. They're right, contamination is generally the reason to change oil..... A spectrometric oil analysis used to cost $10....probably $30 now...haven't done it for awhile, just change oil once a year these days with generally less than 10K per year miles.
      SloopJohnB
      • 3 Years Ago
      OK, I went to the website and all this thing does is measure pH and permissivity/conductance/capacitance, whatever. Yes, it's handy, but you can do the same or more with a pH test strip (can buy quite a few for $30), a rub between your fingers (if it's gritty, dump it), drop a couple drops on a piece of napkin or filter paper (look for bullseye pattern rather than a small center and a large relatively clear ring), and do your own resistance measurement with a DVOM. BTW, Griot's Garage sells a brake fluid tester that is essentially a resistance meter..you calibrate it on fresh brake fluid and it gives go, meh, and bad LED lights.
      Skicat
      • 3 Years Ago
      Back in the late 90s, I had a Ford Probe GT and used Redline synth @ $100/case! They claimed 10k durability so I changed the filter every 5k and the oil every 10. While I was doing this, I used a test kit from a lab in Ohio @ each oil change. Sent them a sample and got a report back in about 10 days – every test showed low breakdown and minimum contaminant/metallic content. Sold that car with 170k on the clock.
        Dan
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Skicat
        I do the same with a company in Illinois; just got my analysis back last night after sending them the sample on Monday (talk about turn-around!). My reports from this company actually led to a higher payout on a totaled car, since the report they had just issued prior to my 95,000-mi car's demise actually used the words "You must be really pampering this [engine]." Just regular oil changes at 5K, synthetic oil. You're right, Skicat - healthy oil and regular changes make SUCH a difference, and if this helps people do that....
      DooMMasteR
      • 3 Years Ago
      hmm I do not know if this is really needed VW e.g. has variable oil-intervalls from 9300-18000miles, depending on the usage of the engine, cold starts, soot intake and other factors
        goober1424
        • 3 Years Ago
        @DooMMasteR
        Many new cars will display oil life. The problem is they don't actually test the oil. It bases its oil life off of information like engine temp, miles, RPM range, MAF and MAP data, etc. Basically all the information the engine computer already collects is calculated to provide a best guess estimate. This however will actually test the quality of the engine oil. Its a very cool concept. One i think that would work well in tandem with the car's oil life display. Still, the fact of the matter is, *you* should still check your oil as well.
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