5 Warning Signs Of Lubrication Failure

5 Warning Signs Of Lubrication Failure Lubrication failure can be defined as a lack of success in accomplishing lubrication goals in any equipment. We often attribute these goals to the lubricant’s correct selection and its quality only, but they are also supported by how we perform the lubrication methods we follow, and how efficient and effective our lubrication program is. The primary objectives of a successful lubrication program include:
  • Providing a lubricant film to decrease friction and wear and tear between moving parts.
  • Act as a heat-transfer fluid to reduce an equipment’s operating temperature
  • Remove contaminants from the lubricant and lubrication system.
  • Minimize the corrosion of metal surfaces and prevent the buildup of varnish and sludge in the system.

Oil Analysis

A successful lubrication program is essential to keep your manufacturing plant running smoothly. You can tell if your lubrication program is on track by carrying out a thorough oil analysis and lubrication test and comparing their results with previous reports. These analyses will also help you identify important signs that may indicate if your lubrication program is failing.

Spotting Problems

In the end, it is all about spotting problems before they can wreak havoc on your machine. Regular lubrication testing and inspection will extend your machinery’s life and reduce costly and inconvenient failures. When oil analysis takes place, it helps to spot various warning signs of lubrication failure. We mention some of these important signs below.

Total Acid Number

Testing for the total acid number is an essential part of oil analysis. It measures the amount of oxidation that a lubricant undergoes since its top-up in the machine. It is an important indicator of the lubricant’s performance and helps technicians predict the best time to change the oil. Unless the lubricant is properly stored in a sealed container, the air can quickly cause its oxidation, decreasing its effectiveness. A total acid number that is higher than the lubricant’s initial acid number is a key indicator of lubrication failure.

Particle Count

Dirt and other impurities in the environment can quickly accumulate in the lubricant, decreasing its effectiveness. Therefore, it is important to keep your lubricants clean. Having an effective filtration system will increase the longevity and quality of the lubricated equipment. Like the total acid number, the system’s particle count is an important warning sign of lubrication problems. A particle count provides information about the cleanliness of the system and the filtration system’s performance. As the particle count of a lubricant increases, its effectiveness decreases significantly. This indicates problems with the lubricant. To avoid lubrication failure you must replace your oil immediately.


Water is a known enemy of lubricants. Although it is an issue in any area, environments with high moisture levels can impact your lubricants performance significantly. Different lubricants have varying tolerance for water content. Whenever the water content exceeds this acceptable level, it can decrease the lubricant’s quality, impacting its performance and lead to lubrication failure.


Running a metal analysis on a lubricant can also help you identify problems with your lubricant. As the equipment wears, it releases metal components in the lubricated area and into the lubricant. As with water content, different lubricants have varying tolerances for metal content. However, a lubricants metal analysis that shows too much metal present can indicate possible lubrication failure unless you change and replace the lubricant immediately.


Checking the viscosity of a lubricant is the easiest and the simplest way to determine lubricant performance. An increase in viscosity directly indicates a lubricants wear. As a general rule of thumb, you should replace your lubricant before its viscosity changes more than 10 percent. You can easily measure a lubricant’s changing viscosity by tracking a fixed amount of oil as it travels through the system. These are the important signs that can help you determine whether your lubricant program is on track or not. For more information on lubrication failure and developing an effective lubrication program, visit our website or contact us here today.
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