The gradient linearity and step tests are two of the most useful performance tests that can be made for a liquid chromatography (LC) system. These check the linearity of gradient generation and the accuracy of mobile phase proportioning. These tests, and examples of problems detected as a result of these tests, have been the subject of at least seven "LC Troubleshooting" columns over the last 18 years.1–7 We strongly recommend that every LC system undergo these tests at least on an annual basis, and preferably semiannually. When a new and different example of a problem detected by these tests is discovered, it is hard to bypass the opportunity to share it with our readers. So this month, you get yet another example of how an LC system can fail.
In this month's column the authors present a case study to outline several gradient quality checks that can be performed periodically to ensure proper performance of LC instrumentation. The example shows how by taking the time to perform such tests, potential problems can be identified before they reach a critical point.