Imagine if every time you bought a pair of socks, you automatically threw them out after six months, regardless of their condition. While you would certainly always have newer socks, you would also likely end up throwing away quite a few pairs that could have lasted a while longer. When it comes to changing the oil in our vehicles, most of us do take the "every X miles" approach, however, as there's no easy way of telling if that oil really needs to be changed ... or is there? The designers of Lubricheck claim that their device will save money and minimize discarded oil, by analyzing samples of engine oil and letting drivers know if it's still good.

To use the credit card-sized Lubricheck, users place several drops of their car's oil in the device's sensor cup. By measuring the capacitive and resistive properties of that sample, it determines the oil's acidity, metal particulate content, carbonized particulate content, and the level of foreign liquids such as coolant or water. An LED display will indicate if the oil is in good condition, if it's so-so, or if it needs changing.

Users will also be able to log their results on the Lubritrack database tracking service, which will compare them to algorithms established for the make and model of car in question. If the numbers aren't where they should be, then users can check for possible engine trouble.

Lubricheck can assess standard or synthetic oil designed for gasoline engines, with a version for diesel engines in the works. Some newer vehicles do already come with built-in oil quality sensors, so they obviously won't need it.

Although not yet available for purchase, Lubricheck should sell for US$30. Interested parties can reserve one by pledging that amount towards product development, through the company website.