What Color Should Engine Oil Be On A Dipstick?

The color of your engine oil can say a lot about the health of your car. When going under the hood, it’s best to know what to look for and know what the colors of your oil are saying to you. Oils are designed to change color in order to indicate meanings to us which helps us to better understand what is going on.

They are designed to change under certain temperatures, combustion rates, and other various factors to give meaning which tells us a lot. By having a simple oil analysis to check the color of your engine oil, you can save time, money, and years of frustration by knowing a few of these simple tips about different kinds of engine oil colors.

To understand the importance of what each color means and how to assess your oil is something any automotive owner should know. From fresh oil color to a milky cream color and everything in-between, here are some quick tips that might help you from blowing your motor and your mind.

Engine Oil Color, What It Means, And How To Check

The different colors of your engine oil have their own meanings. These let you know whether you need to replace the oil, if the oil is okay, or if you might have some serious other problem with the inner workings of your motor. The difference in color can help you determine what is going on during the mechanical process of your engine.

Engine oils are used not only as a lubricant but also as a detergent for your engine. Different brands of oil offer different performances and quality of ingredients. Higher quality oils provide a detergent in the engine oil which acts as a cleaning mechanism to the internal components of your engine while lubricating.

Engine oil of higher quality with the detergents will change color sooner. This is because it is cleaning your engine. The detergent in the oil acts as a neutralizer to clean deposits from cheaper quality gases with acid in them and lower-quality oils that leave residual built up on pistons as well.

Poor quality oils will not change color and stay the same because they are not doing their job. For engine oil color that is black, this is because the color has changed from cleaning your engine. The main three colors of engine oil are fresh new oil color with no residual, good used oil that is black in color with some residual, and bad oil which has a milky cream color to it.

If the engine oil color is a milky cream color, this is an indication that antifreeze has gotten into the oil. Knowing the difference between these three colors can help you save a lot of time and money on automotive projects.

Oil change

Colors Of Engine Oil And Their Meanings

The different colors of your engine oil can give you a better understanding of what’s going on internally in your engine. Knowing these differences and being able to differentiate between what they mean helps us to understand what is going on more accurately.

If your engine oil is clear and has no change in color after changing the engine oil at its designated life expectancy, this is a clear indication that you are using poor quality oil. This oil has not been cleaning the internal components of your engine. It has done its job by lubricating but it hasn’t acted as a detergent by cleaning the inside.

I would recommend switching to a higher quality oil with more detergent properties. The second kind of oil color will be the used oil which is black in color but still good. If the oil is black, this means that the oil has not only lubricated your engine but also has cleaned it. The black oil will have higher detergent properties than the clear oil.

This is why the oil turned black because it was removing residual of cheap oil resin that got stuck to your engine by neutralizing and removing the plaque to free up more surface area of the metal in your engine to be lubricated by the now better high-quality oil.

The last color oil that you will see is a milky cream color oil. This is almost never a good sign because it means that antifreeze has gotten into the oil. There are a number of reasons that could cause this problem but some of the most common include the engine overheating, cracked head gasket, or maybe from someone just pushing the engine too hard, and from the compression, the antifreeze was pushed out and it started leaking.

Another common reason is that your engine oil cooler could be leaking and this is causing the coolant to leak into your engine oil. This could be from a factory defect, wear and tear, or just using bad quality oil for too long past its lifetime causing the engine to overheat. When you overheat an engine, usually the head gasket will blow or crack and the water coolant will fail. This is what causes the milky cream color because your coolant has gone into your engine oil.

People Also Ask How To Assess Engine Oil Color

CVT Transmission Oil Level Indicator Dipstick Gauge

The most precise way to assess the meaning behind your engine oil color is by taking a small sample and bringing it down to a lab for “oil analysis”. There are a few different ways you can do this from home by yourself as well if you don’t want to make a trip to the lab for analysis.

What I do is take three different cups and place in the first the new fresh oil. In the second cup, pour the used but still good oil, and in the last cup, I place the used but still good oil and then mix in a little bit of antifreeze. This is a good way to compare your oil to the three oil colors previously listed in a kind of a little home lab comparison kit way.

You can see the difference in colors of the oil from clear, black, to that milky cream color oil. And by holding a sample of your oil next to these three cups, you can determine which oil color looks the most similar to yours. But taking a sample to a lab for analysis is the best most accurate way to provide clear answers.

The color of your engine oil is a huge indicator of your engine’s overall health. Being like the lifeblood to the mechanical workings of your motor. Take a minute and assess the color of your engine oil to see if you should upgrade to a higher quality detergent oil.

This will save your engine hundreds of thousands of miles and your wallet from having to buy a new car sooner than you would like. The color of your engine oil should be black from having the deposits of old oil removed from your engine. Even though some people think it’s dirty the oil, is just doing its job. It’s more of a red flag to have a lower quality oil without detergent coming out the same color as when you put it in.

At the end of the day, not everyone likes getting under the hood but when you do, it’s important to make sure you know what you’re doing and what you’re looking for. The color of your engine oil can save you time and money by knowing what color it should and should not be.

Knowing the difference and what these colors mean and how to properly assess your oil colors will all be appreciated by your engine and wallet. It doesn’t take long to unscrew the cap off of your engine top and take a quick look with a flashlight to see a coloration of life or death within the oil.