What an oil analysis says about your vehicle

When it comes to buying a used car, shoppers can never be too careful about what they are getting themselves into. Having a certified mechanic diagnose any repairs or issues that need addressing can put a buyer's mind at ease when it's time to purchase a vehicle, but this is far from comprehensive. There may be lingering issues that are tough to detect.

This is where an oil analysis can be very beneficial, reports Fox Business. Oil analyses are almost always performed on high-priced transactions, such as boats or airplanes, because they tell an awful lot about a vehicle. Oil is really the lifeblood of any engine-propelled vehicle, so think of it as getting a blood test for your car.

In an oil analysis, you'll be able to tell how the engine has been maintained and what kind of shape its in. Over time, small metallic pieces of the engine begin to deteriorate and break off. These tiny flakes will be detectable within a sample of oil, which can help you learn roughly how much life the engine has left.

In addition, an oil analysis can indicate issues with an air or oil filter. It will also detect any major leaks, as these fluids will invariably become mixed with the oil. You'll know right away if you have a gas or coolant leak, for example.

Just because oil analyses are used frequently in boat or airplane transactions doesn't mean you have to be rich to afford one, however. Typically, these services run about $25. The issue is finding a place that is equipped to do it. Some dealerships may offer the service, as will select garages - but it isn't something entirely common.

One possible lead is to call up your city or state's department of transportation. Officials usually run oil analyses on government vehicles so that they can tell what kind of shape a particular vehicle is in and whether it will need any repairs soon. It's entirely possible that they outsource this work to a local company, who would then be able to help you.

If that doesn't work, there are many companies that offer this service by mail. You'll be sent a kit, which can be used to gather a sample of oil. You can then send the sample off to the testing facility, and they'll contact you with the results. Searching online should reveal a number of companies that will do this.