What does oil colour tell me about my car’s health?
Engine oil colour can change with age, additive degradation, contaminants, and heat, among other factors. Although certain shades of motor oil may help you sniff out possible problems, colour alone should not be used as an excuse to delay an oil change or as a DIY diagnostic tool.
In fact, most carmakers suggest using kilometres, driving conditions, and the oil change intervals in your owner’s manual to tell when to schedule your next oil change.
How to check your engine oil colour and clarity
Checking the colour of your oil doesn’t take very long and doing so also allows you to inspect the oil levels at the same time! When you’re ready to check your engine oil, park your car on flat ground and allow the engine to cool for 10 or 15 minutes. The only tools you’ll need are gloves if you prefer to keep your hands clean, and a rag or paper towel.
With the engine turned off and slightly cooled, pop the hood and locate the oil dipstick — it typically has a plastic orange or red pull-tab. If you’re having trouble locating it or find two dipsticks under the hood instead of one, consult your vehicle’s owner manual to help you pinpoint the right one.
Pull the dipstick out, wipe it clean with a paper towel or rag, and then place it all the way back into its tube. Wait for a moment, then pull it out once more and observe the oil level, colour, and viscosity. After you get a clear reading of your engine’s oil colour, give the dipstick one last wipe, and then make sure to fully insert it back into place.
Synthetic Blend Oil Change
Get a full service and filter change with up to 5 litres of premium synthetic blend oil at a special price.
What colour should my engine oil be?
Typically, brand new engine oil is a slightly translucent amber colour that has the consistency of olive oil. After new oil is added to your motor, it circulates through the engine block, lubricating its moving parts, redistributing heat, cleaning the engine, and helping inhibit rust and corrosion from forming as it goes!
Over time, the oil typically becomes darker and thicker, which makes it less efficient at its core jobs. Oil that can’t perform the way it should may compromise your engine’s health and create wear and oil consumption. These issues can lead to scary symptoms like blue or grey exhaust smoke, reduced fuel efficiency, and shaking while idling!
The colour of clean engine oil: shades of amber
Clean engine oil can appear as different shades of amber, depending on the type of oil in your car and the age of your vehicle. According to Car Buyer Labs, certain additives may cause your oil to become darker faster.
Motor oil also darkens as it absorbs by-products from combustion. Because of this, darker shades of amber by themselves aren’t a sure-fire sign that your engine oil is old or dirty. In fact, oil darkening may indicate it is doing its job well.
What does black engine oil mean?
Engine oil that’s turned from a dark shade of amber to black could be a sign that your oil is old, especially if it is thick or sludgy. In some cases, black engine oil can indicate a clog in the fuel return line, which could allow contaminants into the engine, causing poor engine performance, inefficient fuel mileage, and possibly engine failure.