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Significance of oil color #849601 03/05/07 07:49 AM
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LouDawg Offline OP
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Is there any relationship between the color of an oil and its base oil/makeup? Is synthetic oil, Group III or IV/V, lighter in color than dino or blends? Or do manufacturers add any kind of, for lack of a better word, coloring to distinguish their oils from others', or for any other aesthetic reasons? For example, I assume the green GC and the, well, purple Royal Purple are made that way on purpose, not because of some special ingredient that improves performance...at least I wouldn't think so.

Seems like the older oils used to be dark honey/amber colored. Now, they seem much lighter, even clear in some cases. Just wondered if there's anything to it.


2007 Honda Accord EX-L, 3.0L V6 (PP 5W-20)
2007 Ford Escape XLS, 2.3L I4 (MC 5W-20)
Re: Significance of oil color [Re: LouDawg] #849602 03/05/07 07:55 AM
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sxg6 Offline
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From Bruce381
Quote:

other than specialty most majors do not use dye now days clear oil is the "bench" mark look.

Most all basestocks ester,GPII,GPIII and PAO are all clear
perhaps slight amber at most. Some like PAO and some GPIII are "Water White" meaning clear.

ZDDP is brown, Moly carbamate is dark brown/green
Calcium sulfonate neutral or overbased is Dark brown
Dispersants are amber to brown.
Boron esters are amber.

bruce




source


From Molakule
Quote:

No base oil, when at room temperature, has a smell. All base oils come from the refinery water white and clear.

Now when heated, mineral oils have this faint sulfur smell, PAO's no smell, and Esters have this "fatty" smell to them, because they are made of fatty acids and alcohols. The only esters that have "fruity" smells are those used in cosmetics and pharmaceuticals. Esters used in motor oils have little smell to them.

Additives and "odor-fiers" is what gives a formulated oil its smell.




source

Re: Significance of oil color [Re: sxg6] #849603 03/05/07 10:38 AM
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dwendt44 Offline
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To some extent, the color of an oil depends on the additive package.
Supertech synthetic oil is almost clear, QS synthetic is fairly dark. I'm sure there are gradiants inbetween depending on brand.
My 2


There's no such thing as:
Too big of a battery,
Too large of a gas tank,
or too loud of a horn,
or too bright headlights.
Re: Significance of oil color [Re: dwendt44] #849604 03/05/07 10:54 AM
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Ugly3 Offline
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Someone mentioned a long while back that the most expensive ingrediant in motor oil was the dye to color it.


No oil is thin enough at cold startup.
Re: Significance of oil color [Re: Ugly3] #849605 03/05/07 05:56 PM
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Patman Offline
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Quote:

Someone mentioned a long while back that the most expensive ingrediant in motor oil was the dye to color it.




If that's the case, why would they even bother adding it? What purpose would it serve?


2018 Corvette, 20k, M1 ESP Formula 5w30 & NAPA Gold
2006 Civic EX Coupe, 156k, PUP 5w20 & Fram Ultra
2010 BMW 328i X-Drive,130k, GC 0w40 & Fram Ultra

Re: Significance of oil color [Re: Ugly3] #849606 03/05/07 05:57 PM
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TimVipond Offline
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Royal Purple uses dye.

Re: Significance of oil color [Re: TimVipond] #849607 03/05/07 06:17 PM
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Hermann Offline
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Have noticed that my Havoline 5w-20 is a lot darker than Valvoline Maxlife Full Syn.


2018 Ford F-150 XL Reg Cab - 3.3L NA V-6
Motorcraft 5w-20 Syn Blend and Motorcraft FL-500s

1991 BMW R100GS 20w-50 Maxlife & Mahle OX36D filter
Re: Significance of oil color [Re: Hermann] #849608 03/05/07 08:03 PM
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Curious Kid Offline
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As for dye being the most expensive component, I think it was the answer from the "question of the day" section. As for why, well, does the "green elixer" reference mean anything as a case in point? It also helps to make quick identification, as in the case of ATF vs engine oil vs coolant when looking at spots on the ground/driveway/engine compartment, etc. Kero is also dyed for identification - something to do with fuel taxing (lack there of), vs. diesel I think, when purchased at a fueling station.


The only constant is change.
Re: Significance of oil color [Re: Curious Kid] #849609 03/05/07 08:16 PM
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badtlc Offline
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Royal purple is actually purple. That means it has to be the most synthetic of all synthetics! Purple is not a natural oil color!

Re: Significance of oil color [Re: badtlc] #849610 03/05/07 08:55 PM
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Blue99 Offline
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As Curious Kid mentioned, dye is the most expensive component in a formulation, on a per unit basis, and is $0.85/ounce (approx $27/quart) per Molekule's comments in the Question of the Day Thread.

Question of the Day - Most Expensive Additive

And some additional Molakule commentary:



Quote:

Most oils are dyed "bronze" which we call Amber, because oils are expected (by most of the general public) to look bold and amber.

Redline uses red and orange dyes to differentiate its products, GC and Schaeffer's use blue/green, and of course, Royal Purple uses a specialized red/blue dye combination.

Most additives, right after reaction and processing, are clear. Bronze and/or red dyes are added to differentiate the additives. Sometimes the metals in certain additives, such as MoDTC and calcium and magnesium sulfonates, tend to darken the additive, so the above dyes are added to mask the darkening.

ATF's and most PS fluids are dyed red to detect leaks.

AC compressor fluids are dyed with a fluorescent dye so a blacklight source can be used detect leaks as well.


And


It depends on the additive supplier. Some supply Dispersives for example, that are clear "water white."

On the other hand, some suppliers supply MoDTC almost clear with a greenish tinge, while others color it with a reddish-brown dye.

The darkest additives (dark-reddish-brown) have to be the detergents, such as the calcium and magnesium sulfonates.

Even if you take all the additive amounts required per quart, and even if the majority of additives are colored, the final quart of oil that started out as as water white will only become slightly amber.

The rest is usually dye.

End Quote

Re: Significance of oil color [Re: Blue99] #849611 03/05/07 09:02 PM
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PT1 Offline
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Valvoline is very light in color turns amber soon after use stays amber for about 2500 miles then gets dirty

Re: Significance of oil color [Re: LouDawg] #849612 03/05/07 10:40 PM
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Triple_Se7en Offline
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Quote:

Re: Significance of oil color




Everyone's interpretation will be different here.
Everyone's engine is different. Some hold more dirt than others. Some oils darken earlier than others.


With normal, popular brand dinos, my amateur, backyard mechanical conclusions are that lighter color on my dipsticks represents young oil - black oil represents use beyond 1.5K. Using synthetics, I'll kick that mileage measurement up another 500-750 miles before turning black. For whatever reason, Pennzoil Platinum stays clear the longest for me... up-to 2.5K. But I haven't tried every brand on the market - so others may do the same as Platinum.

Now my interpretation of premature blackening is most evident with 5/10W-30 dinos that sheer prematurely. Citgo Oil is a perfect example. It darkens/blackens within 600-700 miles inside my engines.... much faster than other brands I've purchased. There's a joke going around BITOG that Citgo sheers as it's being poured into the engine.

I have found that upon pulling the dipsticks using Citgo after only 600-700 miles , it drips onto the concrete/grass faster than any other oil I've ever used.... noticeably faster than when just inserted into the engine - then cdipstick-checked for proper level mark as brand new oil. So between it's fast sheering and fast darkening, I avoid Citgo oils.... and store brand names by them like Meijer Oils, Murray Oils... etc.

Just my amateur (turd) two cents


2019 Hyundai Santa Fe 2.4 GDI - Pennzoil Ultra Platinum 5w30 / OEM 35504 Filter
2020 Kia Soul X-Line 2.0 MPI - a 50-50 blend of Pennzoil Platinum HM & Pennzoil Gold 5w30 // AC Delco PF1127 Ecore




Re: Significance of oil color [Re: Triple_Se7en] #849613 03/07/07 09:24 PM
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Seth Offline
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I think Mobil1 turns dark faster than any dino out there. It also drips down the dipstick like water as the mileage accrues.

Re: Significance of oil color [Re: LouDawg] #849614 03/07/07 09:40 PM
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Mystic Offline
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The oil is going to get dark because of dust and various contaminates that get into the oil. Especially in a diesel engine oil will turn dark quickly.

If an engine is worn and in bad condition the oil will probably turn dark very fast. But all oils eventually turn dark.

I do like some motor oils like Valvoline that are pretty clear when new and seem to stay fairly clear in a good engine.

You can't really tell oil condition by just looking at the oil and seeing if it is dark or not. Dark motor oil can be in perfectly good condition. I like to change the oil based on time/mileage. With a conventional motor oil I think 3 months/3000-5000 miles makes sense. With an expensive synthetic oil you can drive further and longer. But time is still important-I think Amsoil still says one year changes if you don't drive the mileage. Amsoil oils are good for 25,000 and even 35,000 miles, but if you drive 15,000 miles in one year you really should probably change the oil. With any conventional motor oil regardless of brand I can't see driving a lot of miles or a long time on one oil change. How much did the motor oil cost anyway-10 bucks for a 5 qt. container at Wal-Mart?

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