Decoding the engine oil color


As your speedometer runs the kilometers you traveled on your car, your car’s engine oil needs to be replaced. If you keep on going with the same oil, your car engine can meet some serious issues. Engine oil color is an important indicator that you could use to determine if the oil change is due or not and moreover you can determine some engine faults also.

The main and most important function of the engine oil is to keep the engine parts lubricated all the time for their smooth running. The engine oil also absorbs the engine heat for its efficient running. The engine oil circulates through the engine and with time it builds up deposits and gets dirty. This buildup gathers in the oil to make it thick and less efficient hence, it becomes difficult for oil to circulate in the engine properly.

If you had no idea when you changed the engine oil of your car, you can simply tell if it has to be changed or not, by looking at its color. Let us have some analysis on the color of engine oil below.

  • Creamy color

Creamy or milky engine oil color indicates a leaky head gasket. If your car coolant is being consumed and the exhaust is blowing white smoke, then the head gasket is the culprit behind it. If these symptoms are not present, then it could be water contamination, which is causing it to turn creamy. It happens when you drive your car for a shorter distance. Drive your car for some time so that the water vapors get evaporated.

  • Dark oil

The dark color of engine oil does not necessarily indicate a bad engine oil. Most of the people consider dark engine oil to be worn out. It can be dark due to some additives. The darkening of oil also depends upon the brand of engine oil you are using as some brands’ oils turn dark faster than the other ones. If the engine oil is thick and dark, then it contains dirt or contaminants. Also, it can indicate that it has been experiencing a high amount of heat, and it can result in a burning smell when you take a whiff of the sample on the dipstick. If the engine oil is brown or dark brown, then it is totally fine, but if it is black, then it is a matter of concern.

Here’s a simple chart to tell whether you should change your oil or not by just looking at its color:

Stay tuned to Pakwheels for more informative posts because if it’s on wheels, we’ve got it covered.


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Ahsan Ismail

I have been a PakWheeler for many years and I write about cars stuff as cars are my hobby.

  • waqas noor

    I drive about 1000km in 3 months. I use fully synthetic oil from the Toyota dealership. My oil is as good as new when it’s changed every three months. The service manual that came with the car says 6 months oil change interval. Am I wasting my money changing the oil every 3 months. I’ve changed the oil at 200km at some times due to the three month stated by Toyota defence motors.

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