Saving $$ & Monitoring Your RV Transmission With $27 Oil Analysis
We come at last to the last of my semi-serious blog posts for our by-time here in Benson and it illustrates, yet again, my most varied and titillating interests (yes, my wit is endless). This is a topic that actually became rather important for us when we had our botched transmission service in October of last year. During that timeframe I not only learned about approved transmission fluids for our Allison MH-3000 transmission (they key, in case you missed that post, is to make sure you’re using TES-295 approved fluids), but I also learned about how to monitor what is actually happening to your transmission oil….aaaaand….potentially save money, stress and avert future problems in the process.
Enter the magic of the $27 oil analysis….
Now, as a materials scientist this stuff is not only cool, but makes total sense for me. The oil that lubricates and protects your transmission needs to be functioning properly in order for everything to work. If it loses viscosity (thickness), you get excessive wear…if it becomes too thick you lose the ability to properly lubricate and cool…if it’s oxidation state (=amount of heat absorbed by the oil) changes, the oil may have gotten contaminated with water, solid debris, fuel and/or coolant…if it becomes acidic it can clog filters and erode and/or corrode softer parts. All this is not good and it can start to happen waaaay before your transmission actually dies or knocks out any kind of error code.
On the other hand if the oil is good, functioning within it’s specifications and contaminant-free, you can be pretty certain your transmission is a happy camper (or a happy “beast” depending on your size). Given how important and expensive your transmission is, this is pretty major stuff.
But there are other reasons to consider oil analysis too.
The oil we have in our motorhome transmission is a synthetic called TranSynd™. This stuff is darn expensive, but also pretty darn indestructible. The specs say it can run up to 300,000 miles at moderate loads before you need to replace it. Given we drive around 3,000 miles per year that means I’ll be just over 140 years old before we need to drain the stuff…in other words I’m more likely to be worm food before we technically need to change our transmission oil!
But we can’t be quite so blasé!
Just because the oil specs say it can last that long, doesn’t mean we should just forget about it. In order to maintain warranty our transmission service manual says we need to change our oil every 75,000 miles or 36 months…..OR we can do an oil analysis. The latter actually accomplishes three things in one. We get to verify the real state of our oil, we get information on the state of our transmission (including problems that may be developing without our knowledge), plus we can chose if we want to extend the time between oil changes (think many $$ saved) and still stay within warranty.
All this for only 10 mins of “work” (to siphon out a sample) and ~$27 in cost (to get the stuff analyzed)…can you say no-brainer?
Luckily I had heard about oil analysis before we did our transmission service last year, and was smart enough to send in a sample to JG Lubricant Services before we changed our filters. When our service was botched I started a correspondence with Tom Johnson, the President of the company (and coincidentally a regular contributor on the iRV2.com forums) who graciously walked me through the issue, offered to talk to the shop and was able to verify we’d not done any damage to our transmission by helping me decipher a second oil analysis after our transmission was re-serviced. I was so impressed by the whole deal I immediately became a fan and an oil analysis convert.
We plan to take a sample every year on our RV transmission so we can continue to monitor how things are going. Our filters still have to be changed on schedule, but our oil will be analyzed and only changed when needed. It’s super easy to do, it’s $$ saved and it’s info gained. I like it!
Have YOU used oil analysis? What do you think about it?
- Oil Analysis Kits: http://www.jglubricantservices.com/online_store.html (we bought the Advanced Oil Analysis kit JGOA22 and the vacuum pump JGVP01)
- Technical Sheet On Oil Analysis: http://www.jglubricantservices.com/docs/rv_technical_sheet.pdf
NOTE/ I have NO affiliation at all with JG Lubricant Services. Just passing on stuff I’ve found useful & helpful to our RV life.