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Guide to engine oil discolouration

Guide to engine oil discolouration

Your dipstick can tell you a great deal about what’s going on inside your engine…

It’s a shame, but most car owners don’t check their engine oil anymore, still, we live in hope that maybe we can help coax some car owners into getting back in the habit!

So, what should you be looking for and what can your oil tell you about your engine’s health?

Olathe Toyota Parts Centre tell us these are things to look out for…

Milky, foamy, and/or cream-coloured oil can be indicative of a head gasket leak, especially if you’re seeing white smoke in your exhaust and your vehicle is losing coolant.

Thick AND dark oil usually indicates dirt or contaminants.

If you’ve gone off-road and exposed your engine to a lot of dust (for example), your thick and dark oil probably means it’s time for an oil change.

Oil with a creamy, frothy texture can also indicate water contamination, so if you are NOT seeing white smoke and low coolant levels (or contaminated coolant) in your vehicle, then water would be the next likely source of contamination.

Oil colour won’t generally be effected by fuel contamination, but oil smell will change quite a bit, as the oil will smell much like petrol.

Therefore, you don’t need to look at the oil to check for fuel contaminants, you need to smell it.

Next time you check your engine oil, pay close attention to what colour it is.

If something doesn’t seem right, have it checked by a certified mechanic right away.

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About Kate Richards 1691 Articles

Kate has always had an interest in writing and cars and now as a key member of the Behind the Wheel website team she gets to spend her days consumed by both.

Aside from being a contributor and an editor at Behind the Wheel, Kate enjoys driving her Lancer EVO and walking her beloved dog, Max!

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