In order to detect degradation of engine oil lubricant, bench testing along with a number of diesel-powered Ford trucks were instruments and tested. The purpose of the bench testing was primarily to determine performance aspects such as repeatability, hysteresis effects and so on. Vehicle testing was conducted by designing and installing a separate oil reservoir along with a circulation system which was mounted in the vicinity of the oil pan. An innovative oil sensor was directly installed on the reservoir which can measure five (5) independent oil parameters (viscosity, density, permittivity, conductance, temperature). In addition, the concept is capable of detecting the oil level continuously during normal engine operation. The sensing system consists of an ultrasonic transducer for the oil level detection as well as a Tuning Fork mechanical resonator for the oil condition measurement.
Proper lubrication of moving parts is a critical factor in internal combustion engine performance and longevity. Determination of ideal lubricant change intervals is a prerequisite to ensuring maximum engine efficiency and useful life. When oil change intervals are pushed too far, increased engine wear and even engine damage can result. On the other hand, premature oil changes are inconvenient, add to vehicle maintenance cost, and result in wasted natural resources. In order to determine the appropriate oil change interval, we have developed an oil condition sensor that measures the electrical properties of engine oil, and correlates these electrical properties to the physical and chemical properties of oil. This paper provides a brief background discussion of the oil degradation process, followed by a description of the sensor operational principles and the correlation of the sensor output with physical and chemical engine oil properties.