5 Signs You Have Contaminated Engine Oil

Engine oil lubricates various parts within an engine and prevents wear and tear. However, it may become contaminated over time and negatively impact your vehicle’s performance. Read on to learn some important signs of contaminated engine oil that you should look for and respond to immediately in order to protect your vehicle.

1. Dark and Dirty Appearance

Clean engine oil typically has a light amber color. As the oil collects dirt and contaminants over time, it gets darker. If you notice a severely darkened or dirty appearance, it could be a major sign of contaminated engine oil. Check your oil with a dipstick—examine its color, and replace the oil if it appears dark or murky.

2. Thick Consistency

Engine oil should have a smooth and thin consistency to lubricate all engine components. Contaminated oil, on the other hand, is thick and sludgy, which decreases engine performance and may even lead to damage. Determine the thickness of the oil by taking a small amount from the dipstick and smearing it between your fingertips. If the oil feels thick, it could signify contamination. Time for an oil change!

3. Strange Noises

If you hear unusual noises from your engine, contaminated oil may be the culprit. Dirt, debris, and other particles can hinder the oil’s lubricating abilities and cause components to grind against each other, generating unpleasant sounds. Listen for ticking, knocking, or rumbling noises, and refresh your engine oil as soon as possible.

4. Decreased Fuel Efficiency

Contaminated engine oil doesn’t lubricate the engine components as effectively as clean oil. This results in poor fuel efficiency, as the engine has to work harder to overcome increased friction. If you’ve noticed a dip in your vehicle’s fuel efficiency, it may be time to change the engine oil.

5. Turbo Failure

Turbochargers require a steady flow of clean oil to perform. The oil lubricates the moving parts and cools the entire system to prevent overheating.

Contaminated oil, thickened by debris and sludge, is one of the primary causes of turbo failure because the flow limitation causes the turbo to run hot and work harder. Turbo failure can lead to loss of power, excessive exhaust smoke, and loud whining from the turbocharger. Regular oil changes with high-quality oil prevent such failures and prolong the life of your turbo.

Regularly checking your engine oil and addressing any signs of contamination is vital for ensuring your vehicle runs smoothly and efficiently. Keep your engine clean and well-maintained to avoid potential damage and expensive repairs down the line. Knowledge is power, and knowing these signs enables to keep your car in good condition for a long time.

By Dianne Pajo

Dianne Pajo is a writer based out of the Chicagoland area with a passion for music, combat sports, and animals. She enjoys competing in amateur boxing and kickboxing, but in her other leisure time, you can find her performing music around the city. She is also a dog mom of 2.