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Old 02-22-2007, 08:42 AM   #1
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Metal-flake Oil?

It is sunny and in the 60's in central Virginia, so I went home over lunch and did my usual 5K oil change. Seems like my other oil changes were in the early morning or on cloundy days and I never looked closely at the oil.

But in the sun today I noticed small metal flakes glinting in the sun in the oil against the background of the black collecting bucket. I would have thought that the oil filter would have picked up that size flake. Is this normal for our engines to have small metallic-looking flakes suspended in the oil?

Ed



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Old 02-22-2007, 09:00 AM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by edevlin
It is sunny and in the 60's in central Virginia, so I went home over lunch and did my usual 5K oil change. Seems like my other oil changes were in the early morning or on cloundy days and I never looked closely at the oil.

But in the sun today I noticed small metal flakes glinting in the sun in the oil against the background of the black collecting bucket. I would have thought that the oil filter would have picked up that size flake. Is this normal for our engines to have small metallic-looking flakes suspended in the oil?

Ed

That does NOT sound normal to me.
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Old 02-22-2007, 09:03 AM   #3
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I hope you are wrong about there being metal flakes in your oil. Perhaps it was something else??? Metal in your oil, particularly particles large enough for you to see, is never good.

Buy one of those magnets that strap around your oil filter to catch any metal that may be circulating through your engine. Next time you change your oil, you can cut the filter open to see what it's collected.

You could use a magnetic drain plug as well, but the oil filter magnet does a more thorough job of taking metal out of circulation.

It sounds like something is self destructing in there. Sorry.
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Old 02-22-2007, 09:06 AM   #4
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Actually, I have seen this before but I cannot tell you exactly what these flakes are.

Mine looks golden in the light.
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Old 02-22-2007, 10:58 AM   #5
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Wouldn't those reflective pieces be carbon?
Not a mechanic myself, just repeating what I heard from my mechanic.
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Old 02-22-2007, 11:01 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by edevlin
It is sunny and in the 60's in central Virginia, so I went home over lunch and did my usual 5K oil change. Seems like my other oil changes were in the early morning or on cloundy days and I never looked closely at the oil.

But in the sun today I noticed small metal flakes glinting in the sun in the oil against the background of the black collecting bucket. I would have thought that the oil filter would have picked up that size flake. Is this normal for our engines to have small metallic-looking flakes suspended in the oil?

Ed

I have seen metal... lots of it in blown motors.
The good news: oil in the pan is ahead of the filter so it is unlikely that it was being recirculated to the top end. A very small amount is normal wear.
The Bad news: Something is grinding away somewhere. You can send a sample in for analysis to some online labs and they will tell you if it's normal wear or approaching Ka-boom.
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Old 02-22-2007, 11:07 AM   #7
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DO you still have the oil??????

If so, strain it through a piece of cheese cloth. We do this when an aircraft engine pops a device called a delta-P for overpressure in a particular fluid circuit. By straining the oil through a cheesecloth, we're able to see if there's actually material suspended in the oil or if the filter is just getting old.

Also, since the filter is simply a paper cartridge, see if it's full of metal as well.

Best of luck on this one.....I hope it was just bubbles glinting in the sun.
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Old 02-22-2007, 01:34 PM   #8
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Hi,

Go to Blackstone Labs - http://www.blackstone-labs.com/ There, you'll get a free sampling kit and are only charged once the sample is sent for analysis -$20.

But, the sample you send in is only a snapshot. For it to be useful, you'll have to do a further analysis at the next Oil Change and do a comparison. I suspect it's probably nothing, every engine loses some mass (metal), and every Oil Sample will have amounts of metals in it.

The Magnet and magnetic drain plug is a good idea, but I don't like the idea of leaving it in for an entire service interval. The magnets will attract the ferrous particles (will do nothing for any Alloy parts which make up a significant amount of the engine internals on the M96 motor), and clump them together. This risks something jarring them loose and now you have a high concentration of the stuff zooming through your Oiling system. So, if you go this route, I'd suggest removing the magnets and cleaning them monthly or every 1500 or so mi. and topping the Oil back up once reinstalled.

There's not really a lot you can do about it except keep an eye on it, or spend mega bucks opening up the motor and spec'ing every part, which at this juncture I think is unwarranted. Good Luck!...

Happy Motoring!... Jim'99

Last edited by MNBoxster; 02-22-2007 at 01:37 PM.
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Old 02-22-2007, 02:25 PM   #9
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Blackstone does a great job.

Keep us posted.
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Old 02-22-2007, 02:44 PM   #10
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my race bike was spiting some pieces out when draining the oil. 1x3mm flakes about 5 of them and a bunch of smaller ones. I raced it for a year now and still runs awsome havent mushed the gears yet but its running awsome the bike is 7 years old now and has been raced sence day one so im sure a little isnt to bad It may have been when i crashed i layed it down on the side and it pushed the clutch out of the basket and it seized but a cars gears are a lot bigger so they can handle more wear to i guess. I would not worie about it unless you get some big chunks have you ground the gears to gether by accident sence the last oil change or staled it?

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Old 02-22-2007, 03:28 PM   #11
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You need to have an oil analysis done. I get a sample every time I change the oil and send it in for analysis so I know if any internal parts are wearing. I use Blackstone Labs. They will send you a free kit to send in the oil and the report is back to you in a couple of weeks for $20. Cheap insurance for each oil change.
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Old 03-29-2007, 03:28 PM   #12
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I took the advice offered by the group and sent a sample of the oil in question to Blackstone labs. They seemed to give the car a clean bill of health. Here is what they wrote:

“ED: You may have seen some metal flakes in your oil but it appears your engine is wearing just fine after your 5000-mile oil run. The universal averages for typical wear metals in oil from the 2.7L 6-cylinder are based on 7500 miles of oil use so your Boxster seems to be doing well. 0.5% of the sample was gas, likely from city driving, but it didn't hurting anything. Air and oil filtration (see silicon and insolubles) appeared to be normal and the oil's viscosity was okay for a OW/40 product. Stay with the 5K-mile oil changes and check back to establish engine wear trends. Nice Porsche!”


Ed

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Old 03-29-2007, 04:49 PM   #13
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Stay with the 5K-mile oil changes and check back to establish engine wear trends. Nice Porsche!”

THAT is a very interesting recommendation. There have been many debates on this forum about whether the M1 will go to 15K or 20K miles. Personally, I used the 7500 interval myself.

I do respect the Blackstone guys so please report back when you do your next analysis.

Thanks!

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