Engine Oil Level Rising on Dipstick #OilChat 70

In response to OilChat #69 (Overfilling Engine Oil) the question was asked if it is possible for the oil level to rise on the dipstick between services even if no oil was added to the engine. The answer is YES and the reason is that the oil may get contaminated with water, fuel or engine coolant.

Water:  As engines heat up and cool down condensation is formed. Some of the condensed water ends up in the engine oil, but normally condensation is not too much of an issue. Of more concern is the water formed during the combustion process in petrol and diesel engines.

For every litre of fuel burned in an engine, approximately one litre of water is formed in the combustion chamber. At operating temperature this is not a problem since the water goes out through the exhaust in vapour form (steam). When the engine is cold, however, some of the water gets past the piston rings into the oil sump. Water is one of the most destructive contaminants in lubricants. It attacks oil additives, causes rust and corrosion, induces base oil oxidation and reduces oil film strength.

Fuel:  Fuel dilution of the engine oil can occur due to several reasons, including internal leakage of the fuel injection system, dirty or faulty fuel injectors, extended periods of idling and frequent cold starts.

Internal leakage can be related to injector sealing ring failure and loose components. A dirty or faulty fuel injector will cause ‘dribbling’ of liquid fuel into the combustion chamber and it may end up in the crankcase where it dilutes the oil. An idling engine is not operating at optimum performance and leads to incomplete fuel combustion. Extended periods of idling result in unburned fuel getting past the rings and running down into the crankcase oil. Furthermore, during cold starts some of the atomised fuel comes into contact with the cold cylinder walls, condenses and ends up in the crankcase where it dilutes the oil. On the way down the fuel also washes the oil on the cylinder walls away, resulting in accelerated ring, piston and cylinder wear.

In addition fuel dilution of the oil in the crankcase results in premature depletion of the alkalinity of the oil (base number or TBN) that leads to loss of corrosion protection, deposit formation and degradation of the oil.

Engine Coolant: Glycol and water in the engine cooling system may enter an engine as a result of defective seals, blown head gaskets, cracked cylinder heads and corrosion damage. Glycol reacts with oil additives and reduces the  ability of the oil to protect engine components. Furthermore, less than 1% glycol contamination is enough to drop out soot dispersed in the oil, leading to sludge formation, restricted oil flow and blocked filters.

In OilChat 69 we discussed the dangers of too much oil in the crankcase and how it can ruin an engine. Not only will these contaminants raise the level of the oil in the crankcase, it may also damage the engine as discussed above. It is therefore in your own interest to check your engine oil level regularly and to ensure that it stays between the upper and lower limits on the dipstick.

If the oil level changes drastically in a relative short period of time you may have a serious problem. Do not start the engine and investigate as soon as possible. If you are not confident doing this yourself, you will need to get your vehicle towed to a mechanic or service centre – driving it could damage the engine, requiring expensive repairs. Whatever the cause of the high oil level, the condition needs to be corrected without delay.

The Danger of Overfilling Engine Oil #OilChat 69

Oil is the lifeblood of the engine in your vehicle. It lubricates the engine and protects against the two biggest enemies of any motor – friction and heat. The dipstick indicates the oil level in your engine, whether it be with two pinholes, the letters L and H (low and high), the words MIN/ADD and MAX/FULL, or simply an area of crosshatching. If the top of the oil streak is between the two marks or within the crosshatched area, the level is fine.

It is a well known fact that too little oil in the crankcase can lead to oil starvation and result in engine damage and possibly complete engine failure. Is more oil therefore always better? Correct? Wrong! If you drive your vehicle with the engine overfilled with oil, it is asking for trouble. Here is why:

Aerated Oil: When there is too much oil in the engine, the rotating crankshaft whips the oil up and mixes air into it. This causes the oil to be bubbly or frothy and the oil pump pickup-tube draws up aerated oil. Think of it as your engine turning cream into whipped cream. No one wants whipped oil lubricating their engine. The result is normally low oil pressure – ironic, isn’t  it?

Engine Oil Leaks: Too much oil can create excessive pressures inside the engine that will look for an escape – usually through gaskets and seals.  Head gaskets, crankshaft oil seals and valve cover gaskets are normally the first to fail. This will lead to oil leaks and costly repairs. Furthermore, if the oil seal on the flywheel end of the crankshaft goes,  the oil can contaminate and damage the clutch.

Blue Exhaust Smoke: When the crankshaft rotates in the engine oil, it splashes more than normal oil up into the cylinders. Some of the excessive oil ends up in the combustion chambers where it mixes with the fuel. Since the oil is heavier than the atomised fuel it fails to burn completely and goes out the exhaust as foul-smelling blue smoke.

Damaged Catalytic Converter:  The oily exhaust gases also coat the inside of the catalytic converter. When this happens, it is only a matter of time before the oil clogs the converter completely, causing it to overheat and fail.

Spark plug fouling ­– Excess oil in the combustion chamber may well foul up spark plugs, which will then need to be replaced.

Serious Engine Damage: Too much oil can create resistance against moving parts, such as  pistons and connecting rods. Excessive resistance will result in catastrophic engine failure, often beyond repair, and the engine will need to be replaced.

The moral of the story is too much oil can damage your engine. If you notice the oil level is too high, have some of it removed straight away to prevent these serious problems from occurring.

To find out more about the complete Blue Chip  grease portfolio phone 011 462 1829, email us at info@bcl.co.za  or visit www.bcl.co.za

How Much Grease? #OilChat 68

0ver-greasing or under-greasing:
which is the bigger problem when it comes to bearing lubrication?

To answer this question, it is important to understand that over-greasing and under-greasing can refer to two different things. It may mean that the volume pumped into a bearing during a greasing service can be too much or too little. It can also mean that regreasing services are occurring too often or too seldom. It can be difficult to determine which is the bigger problem, but the following discussion should help you decide what might cause the most damage in your specific application

Over-greasing by applying too much grease to a bearing may result in seal failure. If there is no relief port on the bearing housing, the excess grease will blow past the seals and damage them. This can present several problems since the grease that remains in the housing can leak out. It also provides a path for external contaminants to enter the housing.

In addition, a bearing housing overfilled with grease can generate heat. A big difference between grease and oil is that grease cannot transfer heat away from the load zone. Too much grease in a bearing can create heat from fluid friction. Because the heat has nowhere to go, it can degrade the grease by causing too much churning. If there are proper purge points to relieve excess grease, the only problem with greasing too often is that you will be purging good grease out of the bearing.

Under-greasing or not putting enough grease into a bearing housing can be just as detrimental, but it has the opposite effect than over-greasing. By not providing enough lubrication for the bearing, heat can be generated by the friction between the moving parts. Also, if there is a void inside the bearing housing, it can allow contamination to enter the load zones, resulting in damage to the moving elements.

Not greasing often enough would generally be considered a bigger problem. After an extended period of time, the grease may harden as a result of oxidation. This will cause excessive component wear due to lack of lubrication and the presence of possible contaminants. The best practice would be to avoid both these conditions.

It is therefore essential to acquaint yourself with the greasing procedures recommended by your equipment manufacturer. If such recommendations are not available, the following guidelines can be used to establish suitable greasing frequencies and amounts:

FREQUENCY: The chart below shows approximate relubrication intervals. Start at the bottom and select the bearing speed; go straight up until you meet the curve that matches your bearing I.D. (or d); then go straight left to see the relubrication interval (in hours) for your particular bearing type (a, b or c):

AMOUNT:  To calculate the amount in grams, multiply OD in mm x Width in mm x 0.005

EXAMPLE: Let us say you have a 6209 ball bearing, running at 1,800 RPM, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  A 6209 bearing has a shaft diameter (ID or d) of 45 mm, an OD of 85 mm, and a width of 19 mm.  Using the chart and the formula, the bearing needs 8 grams of grease every 10,000 hours.  If your grease gun delivers around 1.35 grams per stroke, the bearing needs 6 strokes every 13 months. You can also average it out to one stroke every 8 weeks.

To find out more about the complete Blue Chip  grease portfolio phone 011 462 1829, email us at info@bcl.co.za  or visit www.bcl.co.za

Oil Contamination Destroys Hydraulic Systems #OilChat 67

Hydraulic oil is the lifeblood of all hydraulic systems. It is therefore of utmost importance to use the correct hydraulic fluid. Equally important is the cleanliness of the fluid, particularly in mobile hydraulic systems such as those fitted to earthmoving and agricultural equipment. Ensuring hydraulic system cleanliness and contaminant-free fluids is essential to prevent damage and increase the life span of hydraulic systems. The wrong oil and contamination are the biggest enemies of hydraulic systems and are the cause of most hydraulic system failures. Even the smallest of particles can wreak havoc on hydraulic system components like seals and servo valves. Before we discuss how lubricants become contaminated with dirt particles, let us get familiar with the different types of failure that can occur if you fail to keep contaminants out.

Degradation Failure symptoms are sluggish operations, loss of system accuracy and speed, overheating and inability to build up full pressure. Essentially the system is not running as it was designed to do. Degradation failures often go undetected until damage is irreversible. To prevent degradation failure, adequate filtration for the system must be installed and maintained.

Transient Failure is caused by particles that briefly interfere with the function of a component. Often, this type of failure happens sporadically and goes unnoticed, although the consequences will become obvious with time. The particles lodge in critical clearances between matching parts, only to be washed away during the next operation cycle. As a result, components become less predictable and therefore unreliable.

Catastrophic Failure will sneak up on you with no warning and is irreversible in nature. Though not always the cause of catastrophic failure, lubricant contamination is often the culprit.  Large particles restrict moving parts and clog the very tight passageways found in a hydraulic system. Once these passageways become clogged, the system will not be able to operate.


Contamination can find its way into the oil in a variety of ways, which is why a comprehensive contamination control program is a must. The most common sources of contamination are:

Built-In Contamination: This type of contamination is especially difficult to avoid as it is the result of the manufacturing and assembling of the equipment. These particles include casting sand, machining debris, weld spatters, paint and pipe sealers, to name a few. To avoid the harmful effects of built-in contamination, flush system and components prior to assembly.

Ingressed Contamination: Mobile hydraulic systems are constantly being infiltrated with contaminants, especially in agricultural, construction and mining machinery. This is where selecting the correct filtration system for your application is particularly important.

Generated Contamination: Hard particles in the oil tend to generate wear particles. This phenomenon is known as three-body abrasion and occurs when particles between two surfaces scrape material off one or both surfaces. Other processes like rust, cavitation, corrosion, erosion, fatigue, and metallic contact between moving parts can also generate particles and add to the contamination that is already present in the system. Although these issues are not always avoidable, their impact can be reduced by proper filtration.

To ensure reliable mobile hydraulic system performance, it is important to do regular maintenance services, use a suitable filtration system, introduce an oil analysis program if possible at all and, last but not least, use the correct hydraulic fluid. To find out which hydraulic oil is best for your application phone 011 462 1829, email us at info@bcl.co.za or visit www.bcl.q8oils.co.za

To Flush or Not to Flush #OilChat 66

The question Should I flush my engine? is often asked.

The short answer is it is very unlikely that your engine will ever need to be flushed if you change your oil regularly or as recommended by the manufacturer and use a good quality oil from a reputable supplier.

Whenever the words ‘Engine Flush’ are mentioned one can expect concern from many mechanics and automotive technicians. They will most likely recall horror stories about engine flushes that have gone terribly wrong resulting in engine damage and they will have good reasons why engine flushes should be avoided. They are right to feel this way as older methods of doing engine flushes were a high-risk gamble. You only did an engine flush as a last resort and performed it with utmost care when the engine had been so horribly neglected that there was no other choice in the matter.

An engine flush involves taking out some of the oil, adding a flushing additive, letting the engine idle for 10 to 15 minutes and then changing the engine oil and filter. Traditional engine flushes were formulated with a solvent and/or a strong detergent. The problem is that the chemicals in such flushing additives can damage engine seals, bearings, turbochargers and other oil-lubricated components. Volatile solvents may also ignite and even explode inside the engine.

Almost every vehicle manufacturer has released technical service bulletins or other documentation in which they warn against performing crankcase flushes. Not only is the service unnecessary, they say, but it can also damage your engine. If your vehicle is under warranty and you experience an engine failure, the servicing dealership will most probably ask you to produce your service records. If your maintenance receipts include a record of performing a crankcase flush, most manufacturers will deny the warranty claim.

It is true that sludge, varnish and other gunk can build up in neglected engines. Engine sludge is made up of oxidized motor oil, dirt, soot, water vapor, combustion gases and other contaminants. Proponents of engine flushes may show you photos of extreme engine sludge as depicted on the right. The fact is that no well maintained engine ever gets anywhere near this bad, and if it does, the damage is already done – the engine will be worn out and beyond repair.

If you are concerned about the condition of your engine the following symptoms may be an indication of the presence of sludge inside the engine:

  • Noisy hydraulic lifters or valve tappets – metallic clicking sound
  • Low oil pressure
  • Oil warning light stays on
  • The oil drains slowly when drain plug is removed
  • Presence of dark greasy substance on the dipstick and inside oil filter

You can also check for the presence of sludge by shining a flashlight inside the engine. Simply remove the oil cap and use the flashlight to check for accumulated sludge inside the valve cover. In a normal engine all the components should be covered with oil, but you should still see the metallic parts glistening in the light. If you see thick tarry deposits inside the valve cover, you might be dealing with a serious case of engine sludge.

In defence of engine flush, we must add that the latest detergents used in some products available on the market provide a much safer way of eliminating contaminants from engines and avoid possible problems. Having said that, we must also stress that lubricant manufacturers blend their engine oils with specific additives to keep engines clean on the inside. High quality motor oils contain sufficient detergent and dispersant additives to take care of all those ghost riders inside engines.

While varnish and sludge can build up in a poorly maintained engine, this normally never happens when your oil changes are performed regularly. The vast majority of engines on the road are quite clean on the inside and will stay that way as long as their maintenance is kept up. Change your oil regularly, use a quality oil and filter and you will be just fine. Even if your engine has been a little neglected for a while, Q8 engine oils contain all the additives required to safely clean your engine during normal drain intervals.

To find out more about Q8 high quality engine oils phone 011 462 1829, email us at info@bcl.co.za  or visit www.bcl.q8oils.co.za

Rock Drill Lubrication #OilChat 65

Pneumatic tools are used extensively in the mining, quarrying and construction industries. Pneumatic tools (also known as air tools)  are power tools driven by compressed air supplied by air compressors.  Air tools come in various shapes and sizes, ranging from small hand tools to jackhammers (paving breakers) and massive rig mounted units as shown on the right.

Air tools generate more power in relation to their weight than conventional power tools and they are amongst the most indestructible power tools available. Many of them, however, fail prematurely. One of the root causes for this is the use of incorrect or substandard lubricants.

Blue Chip offers a complete range of quality lubricants to keep your air tools and rock drills where they belong – in production. Included in the range are:

Compo air compressor oils are formulated to meet the most demanding requirements of both rotary and reciprocating compressors. The outstanding oxidation stability of the synthetic variants makes them ideal for air compressors operating at very high pressures and temperatures. Compo is available in all relevant viscosity grades which makes it suitable for a wide variety of applications.

Rockdrill Oil RD-C is a range of high quality lubricants designed for use in heavy duty rotary and percussion type pneumatic tools. The product line includes all universal viscosity grades making them fit for use in a vast selection of equipment and operating conditions.

Rockdrill Grease is a high performance, semi-fluid lubricant optimised for percussion-type air tools. It is particularly suitable for use as an in-line lubricant for rock drills in applications where operating conditions are severe. Rockdrill Grease extends equipment life, even in the presence of highly corrosive underground mine water.

Rockdrill Emulsion is an environmentally friendly, water-in-oil emulsion recommended for use in heavy duty pneumatic tools – rock drills in particular. Rockdrill Emulsion reduces misting to provide cleaner, safer working  conditions and improved operator comfort.

Drill Rod Grease RD-W300 is specifically designed for the lubrication and protection of rock drill drilling rods. It is formulated to control friction between the rod and the rock strata and thereby reducing rotational torque and vibration, resulting in improved productivity.

Rock drills are designed to take lots of ‘hammering’ but without proper lubrication they simply dont last. The Blue Chip rock drill product portfolio is formulated to lubricate and protect air-operated equipment effectively for extended periods of time.

For more information phone 011 462 1829, email us at info@bcl.co.za or visit www.bcl.q8oils.co.za. Our lubricant experts are at your disposal and ready to provide you with advice and answer any questions you may have.

All About AdBlue #OilChat 64

If you own a new diesel vehicle, you are likely to have to keep it topped up with a special liquid that eliminates harmful gasses being released into the atmosphere…


AdBlue is a diesel exhaust fluid used in vehicles with Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) technology to reduce Nitrogen Oxides (NOx) in the exhaust gases of diesel engines. Nitrogen Oxides are a family of poisonous, highly reactive gases that is formed when fuel is burned at high temperatures.

NOx emissions form smog and acid rain and is central to the formation of fine particles (particulate matter or PM) and ground level ozone, both of which are associated with adverse health effects. NOx mainly impacts on respiratory conditions causing inflammation of the airways. Long term exposure can decrease lung function, increase the risk of respiratory conditions and escalates the response to allergens.

AdBlue is stored in a separate tank from the vehicle’s diesel fuel. When the  engine is running, tiny amounts of AdBlue are squirted into the exhaust gas to convert the NOx into harmless nitrogen and water.

Many diesel cars registered after September 2015 use AdBlue to reduce emissions. If you drive an emission-compliant diesel Audi, BMW, Citroën, Jaguar, Land Rover, M-B, Peugeot or VW, it is likely to use AdBlue technology. There is often a clue in the car’s model name, which may have ‘Blue’ or ‘SCR’ in it. Owners of light and heavy commercial vehicle equipped with SCR technology and meeting the Euro IV, V or Euro VI standards will also need AdBlue.

Most AdBlue tank fillers points are situated next to the diesel filler neck, and they usually have a blue cap. Other common places for fillers include the boot and spare wheel well. If you are not sure, the owner’s handbook should tell you the location.

Good news is that AdBlue is now available at competitive prices from your trusted oil supplier. The AdBlue supplied by Blue Chip Lubricants is a bright and clear, non-toxic mixture of the purest urea available and de-ionised water. For more details please phone 011 462 1829, email us at info@bcl.co.za  or visit www.bcl.q8oils.co.za

UTTO vs TO-4 Fluid #OilChat 63

TO-4 Fluid should not be confused with Universal Tractor Transmission Oil (UTTO).  Although both TO-4 fluids and UTTOs are designed for wet brake applications, they are NOT interchangeable since they have different physical and chemical characteristics – frictional properties in particular.

TO-4 Fluid originates from the Caterpillar TO-4 Transmission Oil specification. TO-4 has become a standard term used within industry for this specific type of additive/fluid. Construction machinery, for which TO-4 fluids are intended, is normally much bigger and heavier than agricultural equipment. A high level of friction is therefore required to ensure that these heavy machines can stop on steep inclines, such as access roads down open cast mines. This necessitates TO-4 fluids to have a high coefficient of friction.


UTTO, also referred to as Tractor Hydraulic Fluid (THF) or Transmission, Differential and Hydraulic (TDH) fluid, is mainly used in agricultural applications. They are however sometimes recommended for construction machines, such as Bell ATDs. Tractor size and weight are limited since they need to use public roads, hence less friction is required to stop agricultural equipment. UTTOs therefore have a much lower coefficient of friction than TO-4 Fluids.

A wrong fluid in wet brake applications will affect fluid/brake surface interaction and decrease braking performance with possible catastrophic consequences. If an UTTO is used where a TO-4 fluid is specified, braking efficiency will be reduced, resulting in increased stopping time and distance. Using a TO-4 Fluid where a UTTO is recommended will cause very bad vibrations and brake chatter, leading to heavy wear and failure of components.

Acquaint yourself with the fluids recommended by your equipment manufacturer, have them on hand and pay attention to tractor and equipment service intervals. If in doubt our experts are at your disposal, ready to provide you with advice and to answer any questions you may have. For more information mail us at info@bcl.co.za

Automotive Gear Oil #OilChat 62

Automotive gear lubrication is a very interesting but often rather controversial subject. We have discussed the topic in previous editions of our newsletter but there still appear to be grey areas surrounding the issue. We have therefore deemed it fit to revisit the subject with specific focus on API GL-6 gear oil.

Lubricants for automotive gear applications are classified by the American Petroleum Institute (API) by means of GL ratings. For easy reference we have summarised the API classifications as follows:

API Categories GL-1, GL-2, GL-3 and GL-6 have been declared inactive even though oils may still be marketed with these designations. Performance tests associated with these categories can no longer be run because parts or test installations are not available anymore – the API GL-6 test protocol in particular.

Raison d’etre for API GL-6 surfaced in the mid 1960’s when Ford needed better protection in their pickup trucks and GM developed the revolutionary front wheel drive Oldsmobile Toronado.

The V8 powered Toronado had a differential with a very high angle of gear contact for power transmission to the front wheels.

The abnormal angle of contact was the result of a differential with a very high pinion offset (discussed in OilChat No. 14) hence a higher gear oil category had to be developed. This category was later defined as AP GL-6 and the Toronado differential was actually used in the API GL-6 test procedure.

Interesting to note is that in addition to the higher pinion offset, the 1966 and 1967 model Toronados had sun gears instead of spider gears between the axle shafts. The power packed V8 Toronados also suffered from high temperatures in the engine compartment and very high loads and pressures in the drive train.

API GL-6 level of protection is still claimed by some oil manufacturers but can no longer be evaluated since Oldsmobile stopped producing the Toronado differentials many years ago. A shift to more modest pinion offsets and the obsolescence of API GL-6 test equipment have greatly reduced the commercial use of API GL-6 gear lubricants. Nevertheless, some manufacturers of high-performance cars still specify this level of extreme-pressure performance for their vehicles.

If you have any questions regarding gear oil or any other lubricant related issues, simply mail us at info@bcl.co.za. Our experts are at your disposal and ready to provide you with advice and guidance

Bicycle Service Products #OilChat 61

We all know that history has the tendency to repeat itself, although very seldom precisely. Since the first two-wheeler hit the road, way back in 1817, there had been several specific historic periods of time marked by increased bicycle enthusiasm, popularity and sales. After the invention of  pneumatic tyres in 1887, the bicycle was the ultimate must-have, with females being the most ardent supporters of cycling.

It offered swift, affordable and stylish transportation that could take you anywhere you cared to go, anytime you liked and for free. Fast forward the clock about a hundred years and we saw a renewed interest in cycling, triggered mainly by an upper-class passion for health and fitness. By 1990 mountain biking was a new sport that boosted pedal-power to the flavour of the time, even more so today.

Modern bikes are a far cry from the ‘boneshakers’ of yesteryear. Nowadays MTBs are packed with state-of-the-art technology, such as carbon fibre frames, front forks with coil springs, dropper seatposts, hydraulic disc brakes, electronic gears and more. Notwithstanding this array of cutting-edge features, maintenance still plays a critical role in the efficient and reliable operation of bicycles. Blue Chip Lubricants offers a complete range of products to assist you in doing just that. Some of the key products in the range are:


Brakz is a high-performance fluid especially designed for use in hydraulic brake systems fitted to modern mountain bikes. Due to its special formulation, Blue Chip Brakz is suitable for all cycle brake systems that require mineral or synthetic based brake fluid. Brakz is dyed green for easy identification and is available in handy resealable 125 ml plastic sachets.


Chainz is specifically formulated to lubricate the chains and sprockets of both on- and off-road bicycles. The wax-based formulation provides maximum film strength and resists throw-off, even at high speeds. Blue Chip Chainz controls oil, grease and grime build up to eliminate the  formation of detrimental ‘grinding paste’. Chainz comes in 125 ml sachets.


Degreaz is a multi-purpose water-based degreasing fluid suitable for a wide variety of cleaning applications. It is environmentally friendly, biodegradable and non-flammable. It is a cost-effective solution for stubborn greasy dirt and grime that have accumulated over extended periods of time. Blue Chip Degreaz is available in convenient 250 ml plastic sachets for quick and easy use by cycling enthusiasts.


The range also includes penetrating oil spray, grease, etc. To learn more about the complete range of Blue Chip Lubricants’ bicycle service and maintenance products, phone 011 462 1829, email us at info@bcl.co.za  or visit www.bcl.q8oils.co.za