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Oil turns dark quickly #5373828 03/11/20 08:06 PM
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NavyVet88 Offline OP
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2002 Ford Ranger Edge 3.0L 76k

I know that oil turning a darker shade or two doesn’t mean the oil is spent completely. However, I normally associate that with oil that has been in service awhile. While I have read in articles online about this happening due to soot being removed via the oil, in my case it is happening in less than 1k miles into OCI.

The truck calls for 5w20, but I have been using 5w30 Castrol edge since I got the truck about a year ago with 66k on the clock. It literally looks like dark roast coffee within the first 1k miles and it got me to wondering why. Every vehicle I have owned in the past never did this regardless of miles from new to well used(170k).

Is this a sludgy motor being cleaned by synthetic oil? Or is it incomplete combustion hence the soot? My commute to work is 64 miles round trip with 25-27 miles highway and the rest city.

This is the first vehicle I have ever used Castrol synthetic in and I’m also wondering if it is the “DNA” of the oil that may be causing it.

Last edited by NavyVet88; 03/11/20 08:07 PM.

2013 Honda Civic LX 1.8L 178k M1 HM 0w20 with Fram XG7317
2002 Ford Ranger Edge 3.0L 67k Castrol Edge 5w30 with Fram XG3600
Maintenance Technician by trade, working class for life.
Re: Oil turns dark quickly [Re: NavyVet88] #5373846 03/11/20 08:15 PM
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spasm3 Offline
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Could be cleaning from the previous owner. Unless you know the history , could be they went long on conventional oil, and its cleaning. Could also be a bit of blow by somewhere. I'd run some techron through the gas, that should clean up carbon in the combustion chambers. Try a different oil next time and see. Then go back to the Castrol . Even if its the Castrol, we still don't know what that means. Cleaning or just how the oil changes color due to the base oil and add pack.

Last edited by spasm3; 03/11/20 08:15 PM.

13 elantra 81k 5w30 synpwr
03 chevy avalanche 83k synpwr 5w30
17 mazda cx-5 17000 miles synpwr 5w30
Re: Oil turns dark quickly [Re: spasm3] #5373854 03/11/20 08:18 PM
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NavyVet88 Offline OP
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Originally Posted by spasm3
Could be cleaning from the previous owner. Unless you know the history , could be they went long on conventional oil, and its cleaning. Could also be a bit of blow by somewhere. I'd run some techron through the gas, that should clean up carbon in the combustion chambers. Try a different oil next time and see. Then go back to the Castrol . Even if its the Castrol, we still don't know what that means. Cleaning or just how the oil changes color due to the base oil and add pack.


The lady I bought the truck from took it to a quick lube joint near her home and always had Castrol conventional 5w20 put in and normally got a champ filter(on it when I got the truck anyway). She said she never had the “expensive stuff” put in it when I inquired about oil changes.


2013 Honda Civic LX 1.8L 178k M1 HM 0w20 with Fram XG7317
2002 Ford Ranger Edge 3.0L 67k Castrol Edge 5w30 with Fram XG3600
Maintenance Technician by trade, working class for life.
Re: Oil turns dark quickly [Re: NavyVet88] #5373860 03/11/20 08:22 PM
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samven Offline
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I am not sure why this happens either but I have noticed it with some oils and not with others. I thought I had a bad filter with a stuck bypass so I changed the filter but it did not change anything. My problem was with QS about 10 years ago and I changed to M1 and the problem went away. I have since tried QS again and did not have the issue. It looked like the oil was oxidizing.

Re: Oil turns dark quickly [Re: NavyVet88] #5373863 03/11/20 08:24 PM
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bbhero Online Content
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Originally Posted by NavyVet88
Originally Posted by spasm3
Could be cleaning from the previous owner. Unless you know the history , could be they went long on conventional oil, and its cleaning. Could also be a bit of blow by somewhere. I'd run some techron through the gas, that should clean up carbon in the combustion chambers. Try a different oil next time and see. Then go back to the Castrol . Even if its the Castrol, we still don't know what that means. Cleaning or just how the oil changes color due to the base oil and add pack.


The lady I bought the truck from took it to a quick lube joint near her home and always had Castrol conventional 5w20 put in and normally got a champ filter(on it when I got the truck anyway). She said she never had the “expensive stuff” put in it when I inquired about oil changes.



I agree with spasm.....

Just me but I'd change this run out at 3k miles.... Next run 4-5k miles.... Then next run 5-6k miles.


Nissan Altima 3.5 Coupe
Cam2 Full synthetic 5w30 Carquest Blue 84356
"Treat your family like your friends and treat your friends like your family."
Re: Oil turns dark quickly [Re: NavyVet88] #5373867 03/11/20 08:27 PM
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RyanY Offline
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IME oil can darken quickly after switching brands or types of oil. I had been running Magnatec in my Cadillac for the past three or four OCIs and the oil stayed relatively brownish until about 2k, when it started to darken. A few weeks ago I changed to Pennzoil Ultra Platinum and the oil is now dark after about 1k. I don't know exactly why the oil darkened so quickly after switching brands, but I have seen it on a few occasions on several cars.


2007 Cadillac CTS 3.6L >130k miles; mix of PUP/Magnatec 5W-30 + ACDelco PF2129G

2012 Honda Odyssey EX-L >107k miles; STP (Amalie) 0W20 + ACDelco PF2057
Re: Oil turns dark quickly [Re: NavyVet88] #5373872 03/11/20 08:31 PM
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Yep, shorten to 3K on this OCI, is a good idea. The lady may have run her OCIs a little-long. May take a couple OCIs to get amber color back at 1.5K. That's what I always shoot for..... clear-golden at time of oil change and amber at 1.5K

My oil-coloring ritual is going to be difficult with my latest Hyundai 2.4 GDI..... known for carbon. But so far - so good at 10K on the odometer.


Keep Your Pistons, Valves & Injectors Clean

19 Hyundai Santa Fe 2.4 GDI
20 Kia Soul XLine 2.0 MPI - both Pennzoil Ultra Plat. 5W30 / AC Delco PF1127 Ecores
04 Chev Colorado Napa Syn 0w20 & K&N



Re: Oil turns dark quickly [Re: NavyVet88] #5373873 03/11/20 08:31 PM
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NavyVet88 Offline OP
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I am thinking of picking up Valvoline maxlife synthetic for the next OCI and seeing if there is a change in the color. Also gonna grab a wix xp filter too. I have been using fram xg3600 the last three OCI.


2013 Honda Civic LX 1.8L 178k M1 HM 0w20 with Fram XG7317
2002 Ford Ranger Edge 3.0L 67k Castrol Edge 5w30 with Fram XG3600
Maintenance Technician by trade, working class for life.
Re: Oil turns dark quickly [Re: NavyVet88] #5373877 03/11/20 08:35 PM
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I had this when I first got my wifes 07 Sienna with 25K miles on it. It was rental and they must have use conventional and ran it long. The first few OCIs were pennzoil ultra which is know for cleaning power. Turned black immediately. next OCI, same oil and it took a little longer. by the 4rth or 5th OCI is was looking good at the end of the run. from then to 150K miles when I sold it I never had a problem with oil turning dark early in an OCI.

Re: Oil turns dark quickly [Re: Triple_Se7en] #5373879 03/11/20 08:37 PM
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NavyVet88 Offline OP
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Originally Posted by Triple_Se7en
Yep, shorten to 3K on this OCI, is a good idea. The lady may have run her OCIs a little-long. May take a couple OCIs to get amber color back at 1.5K. That's what I always shoot for..... clear-golden at time of oil change and amber at 1.5K

My oil-coloring ritual is going to be difficult with my latest Hyundai 2.4 GDI..... known for carbon. But so far - so good at 10K on the odometer.


Yeah I’m at 2800ish on this OCI currently and I have been monitoring the darkness in the oil since about 700 miles into this OCI.


2013 Honda Civic LX 1.8L 178k M1 HM 0w20 with Fram XG7317
2002 Ford Ranger Edge 3.0L 67k Castrol Edge 5w30 with Fram XG3600
Maintenance Technician by trade, working class for life.
Re: Oil turns dark quickly [Re: NavyVet88] #5373880 03/11/20 08:37 PM
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Note that some ashless dispersants turn dark from UV exposure (from combustion events) making the oil appear black when it actually isn't. Whether that's happening here, I'm not sure.


"He who is without oil, shall throw the first rod." - Compressions 9:1
Re: Oil turns dark quickly [Re: NavyVet88] #5373902 03/11/20 08:55 PM
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Send it to Blackstone to see what's in it.


Re: Oil turns dark quickly [Re: NavyVet88] #5373906 03/11/20 08:57 PM
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CT8 Offline
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Remove a valve cover and take a look.


2015 F150 2.7
2018 F350 6.2
Re: Oil turns dark quickly [Re: RDY4WAR] #5373961 03/11/20 09:43 PM
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spasm3 Offline
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Originally Posted by RDY4WAR
Note that some ashless dispersants turn dark from UV exposure (from combustion events) making the oil appear black when it actually isn't. Whether that's happening here, I'm not sure.


That would be interesting to test. A few ounces and a black light overnight.


13 elantra 81k 5w30 synpwr
03 chevy avalanche 83k synpwr 5w30
17 mazda cx-5 17000 miles synpwr 5w30
Re: Oil turns dark quickly [Re: NavyVet88] #5374012 03/11/20 10:35 PM
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CR94 Offline
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Related puzzle:
My Prius turns synthetic oil (of every brand I've used, so far) dark much more slowly than every other engine I've known turned conventional oil dark. Is that because it's synthetic, or because less soot is formed in this engine, or because carbon is formed but sticks to the rings and pistons? As seen on the dipstick, the oil never turns very dark, but goes from almost clear to goldish to medium brown by 8000 miles or so.


2011 Toyota Prius now at 110K
1981 Mazda GLC (323) retired at 606K
1972 Subaru DL retired at 190K
1954 Chevrolet retired at 121K
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