What the Color of Your Engine Oil Means

The color of your engine oil says a lot about what is happening inside your motor. The signs they show may not be as obvious as what spark plugs have when they tell you about the details of your internal combustion. However, your oil can help you gain an early start on identifying several potential issues with your engine. So, in this article, we are going to discuss what your engine oil color is trying to tell you. Whether you own a brand-new vehicle or a used car from Japan, these tips will help you prolong the life of your engine.

Thin, Amber-Colored Oil

Conventional engine oils that are fresh out of the bottle typically have a brownish red, amber color. If the product is mixed with detergents that keep the motor clean, the oil will eventually start to thicken. Its color will get darker because of the high concentration of dirt suspended in the product. When you see the change in the engine oil color and consistency, then it is high time you change it.

Thick and Dark Engine Oil Color

If you are using a synthetic oil, then expect its color to be dark but still translucent. It will also have a thin and runny consistency. Because of additives that are intended to enhance the performance of the engine, synthetic oils tend to collect more grime compared to conventional oil. As such, they appear darker even when fresh out of the bottle or when you check it with a dipstick. If recently you had your oil changed in a car repair shop and you chose the premium service, you will probably see your engine oil in a dark yet translucent color.

It is also worth noting that oil starts to get darker when the engine heats up. So, if you are checking it with a dipstick after driving for a couple of minutes under the sun, you will likely see a darker engine oil color. That is perfectly normal. Once your vehicle cools down, the oil’s color will start to lighten.

On the other hand, if you are not using synthetic oil yet your oil is sludgy and dark, then you are long overdue for an oil change. This is an indicator that the oil has become saturated with engine muck. So, as soon as possible, you should replace it with new, viscous oil.

You should also know that frequently driving on dirt roads, participating in auto racing, and performing towing task will darken your oil sooner than what you would expect from a basic commuter vehicle. If your oil has the same color as black coffee, then it means that a lot of carbon from the combustion process has mixed in with the product. Typically, you will notice a pungent, acidic smell from it.

Milky, Creamy, or Muddy Brown Engine Oil Color

If you notice that the color of your engine oil is dark, you should not be immediately alarmed. However, if it becomes brownish or creamy, it is possible that there is a serious underlying issue. This color is an indicator that the antifreeze coming from the radiator has mixed in with your motor’s lubricant. Typically, this is caused by a head gasket failure. If you see this color, make sure you look at our radiator or overflow reservoir and check if it is running ow. After that, examine the tailpipe and check if the exhaust system emits white smoke.

If you confirm one or two of these symptoms, then it is time to call your mechanic. In the meantime, you should use your vehicle as minimal as possible.

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