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Tell me if this is normal

Hi to all you mechanics out there. I have a volvo xc90 with 160k miles. I have a few questions to ask and i hope you guys can address them one by one.

  1. Is it normal to see very very tiny metal particles in used engine oil under very bright sunlight in certain angles?

  2. When i did my oil change last time, my mechanic stired the oil with his fingers and looked for metal particles. He said by stiring the used oil, you are able to see metal particles. Is that true? And if metals are present when oil is stired, is it normal? By the way my mechanic says he sees it in every car and that my car is like a normal car

  3. If my oil filter does not have any metal dust/ shavings, does it mean my engine is good or is there a chance that it might be wearing abnormally without me knowing?

Is the engine making any unusual noises?

You can always have a sample of your oil analyzed and see if everything is within acceptable limits, or you can cut the oil filter open and see if there are any metal shavings inside.

  1. Possibly.

2a. Possibly.
2b. Duplicate of question 1, and there are no Volvos that are like normal cars.
3. Really? Is this question a joke?

The biggest problem is defining “normal”. How many metal particles? What size? Steel? To some a small amount is normal, others will say there should be none. Just like some people will accept that their coffee is not at the perfect temp. they prefer, while others will complain all day about it.

If there are no other apparent issues with the engine or the car…drive on. Worry about something else. :grinning:

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I agree with Triathlor. The only way you’ll really know if your oil has anything in it that you need to worry about is to send it out for an analysis.

Car not making unusual noises. Oil filter looks fine. No shiny metal bits

My mechanic said not alot compared to other cars he did an oil change with. Small enough that they cant be seen with the naked eye but only reflects a bit under the sun.

Question 3 is not a joke. It may sound stupid and i apologize. I have no mechanical knowledge. Ive read some forums online, they all suggested to cut the filter open but they never say what we should expect to see and what we shouldnt. So if a filter does not have shavings or dust, big or small, does it mean my engine is fine or in trouble?

If the car is running fine and is not making any weird noises I would keep driving it. However, If you want some peace of mind and you want to find out for sure, just send a sample to a lab to have them test your oil. Anything else is just guessing really.

You can use Blackstone Labs for this. See this sample here:

Mechanics reuse the drip pans when they drain out the oil, and they don’t clean them between oil changes so any particles could be there from a previous oil change and not yours. But if you are just seeing a metallic sheen and not actual particles, I would not worry about it.

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