Ask the Editors: Sparkly Oil

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Silver in the black pool.

Dear ATVC: I recently drained my quad’s oil for a change and was shocked to discover metal filings within the old oil in the catch pan. Does this mean the end of my engine is near?

We’ve certainly been there before but surprisingly, no, the presence of metal particulates in your oil doesn’t necessarily mean impending doom. Believe it or not, aluminum shavings, in small quantities, are perfectly normal. Especially if your machine is still within the break-in period as there is often metal-on-metal contact with a new engine until operating tolerances are reached.

You don’t really need to worry until you start to find aluminum bits in the oil. How can you tell the difference? A decent magnet on a string will tell you exactly the type of metal lurking within your engine’s oil.

Aluminum often means piston/ ring breakdown while the presence of copper can mean excessive crank wear.

What you’re going to want to do is be certain to not only replenish with fresh oil but be sure to replace the oil filter as well as it will be likely contain the majority of whatever shavings are present. We also like to run magnetic drain plugs so that common steel filings stick to the bolt rather than continue to get circulated through the engine until your next oil change.

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