How often do you change the oil in that badass sports car sitting in your garage (hey, we can dream)? If you're like most of us, you've probably developed some sort of system like after running a certain number of miles or after a set amount of time. Problem is, those depend on approximation rather than exact measurements of how good your engine oil currently is. Lubricheck claims they can take the guesswork out of the equation.
A small, credit card-sized gadget, it measures two criteria to provide an assessment of whether you do need an oil change: the "permittivity" property of the oil's molecular structure and the high impedance of the oil molecules. From these two, the device can computer acidity, metal particulate levels, carbon levels and the presence of foreign liquids, allowing it to tell you whether it's actually a good idea to change your oil at this very moment.
To use, simply place a few drops of your engine's oil into Lubricheck's sensor cup. Turn some knobs, push some buttons and wait for it to show the assessment using the onboard LED panels.
Aside from the actual device, the company also offers an online service that allows you to further quantify the oil quality assessment, involving factors like total mileage, engine condition, driving habits, environmental conditions and oil type. According to the website, the online component is a good way to check whether your numbers should be where they are expected to be. If not, then this could be a hint that you've got some engine trouble brewing.
For now, it looks like Lubricheck is still in prototype mode. Once released, though, they expect it to retail at around $30.