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The color of used oil tells us.... #4560967
11/01/17 07:10 AM
11/01/17 07:10 AM
Joined: Mar 2008
Posts: 6,133
Michigan
ZZman Offline OP
ZZman  Offline OP
Joined: Mar 2008
Posts: 6,133
Michigan
I have read where people say their motor oil comes out almost the same color as it went in.

Any vehicle I have owned that I changed the oil came out dark brown to black.

Is it just the oil make up or are some vehicles just super easy on oil and clean inside?

Last edited by ZZman; 11/01/17 07:17 AM.

2003 Mercury Grand Marquis. PP HM 5w-30 and Fram Ultra
2008 Sebring Hardtop convertible. PP HM 5w-30 and Fram Ultra
2006 Kawasaki Vulcan 900 LT. Motul 7100 10w-40 and K&N
Re: The color of used oil tells us.... [Re: ZZman] #4560971
11/01/17 07:18 AM
11/01/17 07:18 AM
Joined: Aug 2009
Posts: 11
Texas
CPB Offline
CPB  Offline
Joined: Aug 2009
Posts: 11
Texas
It tells me that for the people that have the same color coming out as going in they are wasting their time and money. They are changing way earlier than necessary.

Re: The color of used oil tells us.... [Re: CPB] #4560977
11/01/17 07:25 AM
11/01/17 07:25 AM
Joined: Nov 2011
Posts: 4,970
MTL, CANADA
Rolla07 Offline
Rolla07  Offline
Joined: Nov 2011
Posts: 4,970
MTL, CANADA
Originally Posted By: CPB
It tells me that for the people that have the same color coming out as going in they are wasting their time and money. They are changing way earlier than necessary.


Either this or they didnt remember the color it was when going in. A small difference in color is common with some cars. I notice mine does get darker but not super dark. Golden going in, dark golden/light brown coming out.


2007 Corolla Red Pearl 155k miles
PP 0w20 & ST 4967

Re: The color of used oil tells us.... [Re: ZZman] #4560985
11/01/17 07:33 AM
11/01/17 07:33 AM
Joined: Jan 2017
Posts: 323
Ontario, Canada
newbe46 Offline
newbe46  Offline
Joined: Jan 2017
Posts: 323
Ontario, Canada
I have seen the oil turns into almost a grey-ish colour. Thanks god it wasn't one of my own vehicles.


2003 E46 M3 Convertible
2004 Odyssey EX-L
2004 Impreza TS Wagon
Re: The color of used oil tells us.... [Re: newbe46] #4560990
11/01/17 07:36 AM
11/01/17 07:36 AM
Joined: Dec 2005
Posts: 10,306
Upper Midwest
kschachn Offline
kschachn  Offline
Joined: Dec 2005
Posts: 10,306
Upper Midwest
Originally Posted By: newbe46
I have seen the oil turns into almost a grey-ish colour. Thanks god it wasn't one of my own vehicles.

Why? What does that indicate?


1994 BMW 530i, 238K
1996 Honda Accord, 266K
1999 Toyota Sienna, 407K
2000 Toyota ECHO, 280K
Re: The color of used oil tells us.... [Re: kschachn] #4560992
11/01/17 07:38 AM
11/01/17 07:38 AM
Joined: Jan 2009
Posts: 13,979
Illinois
tig1 Offline
tig1  Offline
Joined: Jan 2009
Posts: 13,979
Illinois
Originally Posted By: kschachn
Originally Posted By: newbe46
I have seen the oil turns into almost a grey-ish colour. Thanks god it wasn't one of my own vehicles.

Why? What does that indicate?


Possible coolant in the oil. One of the very few times a UOA is really needed.

Last edited by tig1; 11/01/17 07:39 AM.

2007 Ford Fusion 235,000 miles
M1 0-20 EP
2017 Ford Fusion 60K
M1 0-20 EP
10,000 mile OCIs on both engines
M1 ATF and Valvoline LV
M1 10-30 in all OPE
MC filters

Re: The color of used oil tells us.... [Re: ZZman] #4560995
11/01/17 07:39 AM
11/01/17 07:39 AM
Joined: Nov 2013
Posts: 362
Fly-over country
zuluplus30 Offline
zuluplus30  Offline
Joined: Nov 2013
Posts: 362
Fly-over country
Tells me nothing. All speculation until a lab confirms it.

Re: The color of used oil tells us.... [Re: tig1] #4561003
11/01/17 07:50 AM
11/01/17 07:50 AM
Joined: Jan 2017
Posts: 323
Ontario, Canada
newbe46 Offline
newbe46  Offline
Joined: Jan 2017
Posts: 323
Ontario, Canada
Originally Posted By: tig1
Originally Posted By: kschachn
Originally Posted By: newbe46
I have seen the oil turns into almost a grey-ish colour. Thanks god it wasn't one of my own vehicles.

Why? What does that indicate?


Possible coolant in the oil. One of the very few times a UOA is really needed.


This happened when I helped a buddy to change the oil in his Mazda 5. He claimed he overran that OCI but didn't know for how much. He doesn't care much about anything let alone a UOA so I didn't even bother bringing it up.


2003 E46 M3 Convertible
2004 Odyssey EX-L
2004 Impreza TS Wagon
Re: The color of used oil tells us.... [Re: ZZman] #4561005
11/01/17 07:50 AM
11/01/17 07:50 AM
Joined: Jun 2015
Posts: 4,426
New England
Virtus_Probi Offline
Virtus_Probi  Offline
Joined: Jun 2015
Posts: 4,426
New England
I remember somebody online (here?) telling a story about the owner of a used car lot putting non-detergent oil in all of his vehicles up for sale so it would look as good as out of the bottle if a customer happened to pull the dipstick. Not sure how realistic that is, but it's a good story.

My oil comes out quite dark after 5kmiles, my assumption is that it's due to the heat of the turbo. I used to darken it myself with a MoS2 additive, but I don't do that anymore.


2014 Forester XT, 90000 miles
Last Change;
M1 5W30 d1G2
Tokyo Roki 15208AA170 filter
Re: The color of used oil tells us.... [Re: ZZman] #4561020
11/01/17 08:10 AM
11/01/17 08:10 AM
Joined: Sep 2007
Posts: 1,023
TX, USA
JMJNet Online content
JMJNet  Online Content
Joined: Sep 2007
Posts: 1,023
TX, USA
Oil change color because it does what it is supposed to do which is lubricating.

The oil in diesel engine goes black because it suspends the soot.


  • 2017 Toyota Sienna
  • 1995 GMC Suburban 6.5L Turbo Diesel


Re: The color of used oil tells us.... [Re: zuluplus30] #4561043
11/01/17 08:35 AM
11/01/17 08:35 AM
Joined: Oct 2005
Posts: 7,094
Colorado
Kuato Offline
Kuato  Offline
Joined: Oct 2005
Posts: 7,094
Colorado
Originally Posted By: ZZman
The color of used oil tells us....


Next to nothing - at least not reliably, and between platforms. For one vehicle using the same oil, maybe.


Thick vs Thin test: 15k / 43k miles complete
Re: The color of used oil tells us.... [Re: ZZman] #4561083
11/01/17 09:15 AM
11/01/17 09:15 AM
Joined: Mar 2011
Posts: 290
NM, USA
pkunk Offline
pkunk  Offline
Joined: Mar 2011
Posts: 290
NM, USA
My old '81 F250 straight 6 on propane got a yearly oil change regardless of miles and the oil was light amber. Never used any special oil, just what was the cheapest. Still that way after 350K miles and new owner. He can't believe it.


2008 Mini Cooper Clubman (toad)
2000 Mercedes ML320
1994 Dodge 2500 Cummins
1999 Ford F53 V10 Coachman Motorhome 34ft
Re: The color of used oil tells us.... [Re: ZZman] #4561088
11/01/17 09:18 AM
11/01/17 09:18 AM
Joined: Aug 2011
Posts: 102
Northern VA
homeyclaus Offline
homeyclaus  Offline
Joined: Aug 2011
Posts: 102
Northern VA
The color? Nothing.

Only if there are sparkles in there, chunks, foam, or it's milky, you have a visual indication of a problem. Really.


2013 Toyota Tundra CM 5.7L TRD (M1 0w20/PUP0w40euro, WIX/CQ filter)
2010 Mercedes E550 4Matic (PP 0W40 Euro, Mann)
Re: The color of used oil tells us.... [Re: ZZman] #4561092
11/01/17 09:21 AM
11/01/17 09:21 AM
Joined: Jun 2016
Posts: 302
Texas, USA
WylieCoyote Offline
WylieCoyote  Offline
Joined: Jun 2016
Posts: 302
Texas, USA
I think fuel quality may also have an impact on this. When I managed a warehouse, I was responsible for making sure the fork lift was maintained. It ran on LP, and couldn't help but notice that even at the service interval hours, the oil was still very clear and gold colored. There was literally no way to tell if the oil had actually been changed unless they spilled some (which they did). I guess LP leaves no combustion deposits, so if you go by color, you'd never change the oil. Maybe some fuels are 'cleaner' than others and it's reflected in the oil color.

Re: The color of used oil tells us.... [Re: pkunk] #4561094
11/01/17 09:27 AM
11/01/17 09:27 AM
Joined: Aug 2011
Posts: 102
Northern VA
homeyclaus Offline
homeyclaus  Offline
Joined: Aug 2011
Posts: 102
Northern VA
Originally Posted By: pkunk
My old '81 F250 straight 6 on propane got a yearly oil change regardless of miles and the oil was light amber. Never used any special oil, just what was the cheapest. Still that way after 350K miles and new owner. He can't believe it.


Gaseous fuel burns without soot (Propane is stored as a liquid, but you have a heated regulator and a diaphragm-type carburetor to turn it into a gas), so you won't get darkening of the oil the same way you would from liquid fuels.

My instructor for the LPG vehicle course harped on the fact that oil won't get dark and needs to be changed as the additives wear out, that spark plugs tend to need to be one or two steps cooler to last, run better, and get better power, and that based on tailpipe tests a badly tuned propane engine pollutes much more than a gas engine. A well tuned one pollutes a whole lot less. Oh, and to run a much cooler thermostat, since propane engines care less about engine temperature, nor do their emissions because of it.

And yes, with proper maintenance, they run a really long time. You're not burning a solvent that dilutes the oil coat on your cylinder walls, for starters. And engines specifically built for the fuel can be super awesome, I remember being able to lay a strip in a 3-ton 30' panel van with a 4-on-the-floor and dualies pretty much at will. I'd run that fuel today if I could.


2013 Toyota Tundra CM 5.7L TRD (M1 0w20/PUP0w40euro, WIX/CQ filter)
2010 Mercedes E550 4Matic (PP 0W40 Euro, Mann)
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