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Engine Oil Color: Determine If It Needs To Be Changed

With time, as you cover those miles, your car’s engine oil needs to be changed. The engine oil color is an indicator that you can use to determine if it is the right time to change the oil. Not following the oil changing sessions can make your car meet some serious damages.

Let’s get to know more about different engine oil colors and how to choose the right time for oil replacement.

Engine Oil Color: Decoding The Different Possible Colors

The main function of your engine oil is to provide the lubrication to the parts so they can keep running. Another major task is to absorb the heat so the vehicle can run efficiently. As the oil works on the principle of circulation, it builds deposits over time and hence gets dirty.

When all the buildup gathers in the oil, it becomes less efficient and not replacing it timely makes it non-working for the automotive parts. Checking the color of the oil is the easiest way to know if it is time to buy new oil.

Let’s have the engine oil color analysis here:

engine oil color - this is how you check it
It builds deposits over time and hence gets dirty

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1. Creamy Or Milky Engine Oil

Sometimes, you can notice the engine oil color as somewhat milky or creamy. Well, it indicates that the oil contains water. It can be the engine’s coolant that is getting into the oil because of the leaky head gasket. It also happens when you travel short distances, and the engine cannot produce enough heat to burn that water. Instead, it creates the water vapors, and that gets mixed into the oil.

So, a creamy engine oil color does not necessarily need a replacement if it is because of the short trips. You just need to drive the engine enough so those water vapors can get evaporated.

2. Dark Engine Oil

Some people consider the light engine oil to be clean and dark to be worn out. However, it is not true every time as it is not necessary that dark oil means it is worn out. So when you ask ‘what color should engine oil be’ duration is a factor too. The more months the oil run, the more deposits it collects. The darkening of oil color also depends on the engine oil brand as in some brands, the oil changes color in less time.

Hence if you notice the red engine oil or somewhat darker shade, determine the total months as well for which the oil is running in your car’s system. Some cars can cover 3000 miles before you need to change the engine oil and some covers up to 5000 miles. Have a look at the Maintenance Tips for the automobiles and diagnose all possible problems.

If the engine oil is black, it is considered a bad engine oil color, and there is something serious with the system. In this case, you can take it to a nearby car repair and get to know the issue.

engine oil color- how to find the right color for your
The more months the oil run, the more deposits it collects


If your engine oil color is turned dark in the shade and if it smells like burnt off when you whiff that dipstick, you can consider it the time to change the engine’s oil. Always use common sense and not just rely on the color always. Consider factors like total miles covered and the brand name too.