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Tyler EtheredgeAugust 9, 20232 min read

The Cost of Inconsistent Oil Viscosity

In this blog, I would like to introduce how the RheoSense microVISC-m viscometer can help improve overall engine health through the use of viscosity measurements.  


There are many different chemical and physical properties of motor and mineral oil that must be known and maintained to achieve proper lubrication in engines and various machinery. The most important may very well be viscosity. If your oil is too thick to flow and properly disperse or there is too much soot or grime buildup due to degradation, you will begin to have surfaces wearing down, sludge accumulation and overall poor engine and equipment performance or worse engine failure. One thing is certain, the wear and tear caused by dirty and overly viscous oil will eventually begin to cost you money, but you do not want to waste money and time by changing oil too frequently either. So how can you achieve a proper balance in maintaining your oil and engine performance? 


Measuring and understanding the viscosity of your oil is the best place to start! You simply need to: 

  1. Check the viscosity when your oil is new (prior to use) 
  1. Check the oil at regular intervals throughout use  
  1. Have an indicator such as a 10% deviation from the starting viscosity which tells you it is time to change your oil 

With these simple steps, you can properly and easily maintain the lubrication and overall health of your engine or machinery with one single measurement.  


A more difficult decision is what instrument you should choose to measure viscosity. There are many types and brands of viscometers. The most common in the oil industry is based on the ASTM D445 standard for measuring kinematic viscosity. This method uses capillary tubes and is extremely precise, but it is quite difficult and time-consuming. It is not a method that can be used for quick spot checks. This method as well as Stabinger viscometry are widely used lab techniques for kinematic viscosity determination. FTIR spectroscopy can also be used, but the accuracy and amount of error through this type of measurement is too large for useful quality control.  


You need an instrument that is applicable for use in the field, on-site or out on the shop floor. It also must be easy to use and provide quick measurements. This is where RheoSense can help! Our microVISC-m is the perfect tool for oil viscosity measurements. No need for multiple measurements, extensive sample prep or in-depth equipment training. You can get viscosity data at 40, 50, and 100 degrees C from a single measurement. Also, the viscometer weighs about 1 Lb and runs off battery power making it completely portable.  


How easy is it to use? Follow these three steps: 

  • Pull up your oil sample in your disposable pipette (provided by RheoSense) 
  • Load the pipette into the microVISC-m 
  • Click “Run” 


It is just THAT easy! You will use the pre-programmed measurement protocols for your fluid and simply read the true viscosity from the LCD screen. Plus, the measurement only takes about 30 seconds.  

See more about the microVISC-m here: Lubricants: Viscosity for Used Oil Analysis (rheosense.com) 

With the microVISC-m, anyone can quickly and easily measure oil viscosity anywhere they need to. You can guarantee with the help of RheoSense, your engine and machinery will run smoothly and save you money over the time of ownership. Contact us to get more information.