Engine Oil Color Means

What Your Engine Oil Color Means

While you may be familiar with checking your oil level and using the best synthetic oil, your dipstick doesn’t help you determine the quality of your oil. Even if you have the perfect level of oil you may still need to have it replaced. If you’re concerned about the color or consistency of your engine oil, here is a helpful guide to discover what unusual oil colors may mean.

Thick, Dark Oil 

Oil starts out as a light amber liquid. However, the minute you pour it into the reservoir it quickly turns black. Because of residue, old oil and additives, black oil isn’t always the best sign that you need to replace your oil.

Instead, look for a dark color in combination with a change in consistency. If your engine oil doesn’t feel like it has the typically oily consistency but is thick and slimy, it may need to be replaced. Thick oil is typically contaminated and due for a change.

However, a dark color can easily be misleading. When your oil is hot or you’ve added certain additives it can also slightly change consistency and turn dark. It’s best to rely on consistency in combination with the known mileage of your oil. 

Milky, Light Oil 

A lighter color can be more significant. OIl that appears to be cream-colored or milky is typically contaminated. The most common contaminant is coolant, which can be dangerous for your vehicle. Not only does this diminish the efficiency of your motor oil, it means that your engine isn’t receiving the coolant it needs to avoid overheating.

Other signs of a coolant leak are a frothy texture or white smoke from your exhaust. If you see any of these signs it’s important to promptly visit a mechanic to inspect your engine. Failure to fix a coolant leak can result in a damaged engine that is very costly to repair or replace. Call your local mechanic to see if you need to bring your vehicle in or have it towed. 

Changing Your Oil 

Once you’ve determined that your oil needs changed, whether from the color, age or texture, be sure to choose the right oil. Motor oil comes in a wide variety of formulas for various engines, and it’s essential to use only the right oil. Whether you use synthetic, blend or conventional oil, consider using a free vin decoder. This helpful service will help you confirm that you’ve selected the right oil for your vehicle.

Ask about replacing your oil filter with your oil. Contaminated oil can quickly clog your filter, which will in turn contaminate your new oil. Replacing your filter and oil at the same time ensures a long-lasting oil change that keeps your vehicle in peak condition. 

Find the Best Oil 

Don’t settle for cheap oil. Keep your engine running smoothly and reduce the wear and tear on your vehicle by shopping for premium oil and oil filters. Ask your local auto store for the best brands or use an online oil filter lookup by vehicle service to conveniently shop for the best products for your vehicle.

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