What the Colour of Your Engine Oil Tells You About Its Condition


Were you aware that your engine oil changes colour over time? It’s crucial to keep a check since the colour tells you everything about the engine’s condition. This guide will look at what each colour means and when to change your oil.

However, before we get in the thick of it, there are a few considerations to make. Fresh engine oil tends to come in an amber shade, while darker colours are considered a danger zone. Yet, certain additives tend to darken the oil naturally.




For such cases, you’re advised to keep a check on when your oil was last changed. If you haven’t changed your oil in 10 months, a darker colour would obviously hint towards dirty oil that needs to be changed. Another consideration to make is the brand of oil you use. Different oil brands come in varied, subtle differences in shades, so it’s best to stick to one brand.


Here’s how to check engine oil colour and quality


It’s relatively easy to check the colour of your engine oil, and doesn’t take too much time either. You also get to inspect your oil levels in the process.

To get started, you should park your car and let the engine rest for 15 minutes. Use this time to gather a pair of gloves and some paper towels.

Once the engine has cooled down, pop the hood open and look for the engine oil dipstick (should have an orange or bright red pull-tab).

Take the dipstick out, wipe it entirely with the paper towel, and place it back into the tube. Wait for a minute and then pull it out to observe the colour, the viscosity, and engine oil level. Don’t forget to wipe the dipstick before putting it back in.


What the colour of your engine oil tells you about its condition


Amber engine oil

As we briefly mentioned earlier, clean or new engine oil has to be amber in colour. It should also look clear or see-through when you take out the dipstick.


Greyish engine oil

Greyish engine oil typically has a foamy consistency to it. This generally points towards a coolant leak that has contaminated your engine oil. For such cases, you’re advised to consult a professional garage, such as the ones ServiceMyCar gives you access to.


Dark engine oil

As we touched upon earlier, dark oil isn’t always a cause for concern. Engine oil can get dark for multiple reasons. While additives make it darker, it could also get darker after cycling through for an extended period.

The best way to ascertain the exact cause is to closely inspect the dark oil. If it’s both dark and thick, it could be contaminated with dirt. If the dipstick sample also has a burning scent, it indicates that your oil has been experiencing high heat.

A general rule is that dark brown is still fine, but murky black oil is a sign that you need to get an oil change at once.


Consider ServiceMyCar for all your car oil change needs


It’s established now that your engine oil’s colour is not the sole identifier of its health. While it’s vital to keep track of the colour and level changes, you still need to consult an automotive service expert to raise your concerns.


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Our technological interface makes for an easy and hassle-free booking process. Check out the ServiceMyCar website or app, and get your next oil change with us.

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