The engine oil is an essential fluid in cars that helps lubricate engine parts to reduce friction. Because of the oil's job, it's bound to get dirty after some time. For many vehicles, after 7000 miles. However, if the oil gets dirty faster than usual, something might be causing it. So, if you've noticed your oil getting dirty faster than normal, it's safe to ask, why does my engine oil get dirty so fast?
Why does my engine oil get dirty so fast?
Motor oil is expected to work for a certain period before requiring an oil change. So, if it gets dirty too fast, the following might be the cause.
The engine oil enters the engine to help lubricate and cool engine parts; however, it must first go through the filter. The oil filter is responsible for trapping contaminants so that it doesn't get into the engine.
However, over time, these contaminants can get the filter dirty. An oil filter that has become too clogged will invariably cause the lubricant to be dirty. This is why it is recommended to change the oil filter with every oil change.
Heat is another reason your engine gets dirty fast. Generally, every engine has its average operating temperature, usually between 200 to 300°C. However, when the engine overheats, heat attacks the oil viscosity. For oil, viscosity protects against heat, wear, or anything that can break down the oil.
However, when the engine temperature becomes high, the oil loses viscosity quickly as the fluid works. Because nothing protects the oil anymore, the oil becomes vulnerable to grime and other contaminants, causing the oil to get dirty quickly.
The positive crankcase ventilation helps to regulate blow-by gases. It does this by recirculating combustion gases before the gases reach the crankcases. However, when the positive crankcase ventilation is faulty, it can no longer stop blown by gases from entering the crankcase. This action may cause this combustion gas to enter the oil compartment.
Many engines go through normal wear before reaching their optimal temperature. How? Generally, when your vehicle is turned on, the engine oil does not start lubricating its moving components instantly. It is especially true because the oil is not yet heated up to circulate around the engine at this time. It is even worse in a cold climate as the oil takes much longer before it starts lubricating engine parts.
This delay increases the time of engine wear and causes the engine parts to grind against each other. As these components grind against themselves, they produce tiny particles, which the oil later picks when circulating around the engine. Hence, causing the oil to get dirty quickly. To reduce engine wear in cold climates, try utilizing motor oil that can withstand cold environments.
Aside from helping to lubricate engine parts, oil also acts as a cleaning agent; this is true because there are detergents in the oil. As the engine works, the engine oil circulates around the engine, collecting any dirt it comes across. Usually, the oil filter will trap these contaminants. If, however, the dirt is too much, some, especially the very tiny ones, may seep through and find their way to the oil chamber.
There are cases where the fuel leaks into the engine oil through the crankcase, resulting in a fuel-oil mixture. A fuel oil mixture will usually cause the oil to lose its viscosity. Hence causing the oil to be susceptible to contaminants that make the oil get dirty faster.
Ideally, water does not make the oil dirty. However, it can result in contaminated oil since both fluids are not supposed to mix. This water-oil mixture invariably causes the oil to lose its viscosity, reducing its performance. Water can get into your oil via a faulty head gasket, broken cylinder walls, cracked crankcase, flooded roads, and sometimes condensation.
A coolant leak may occur due to broken head gaskets or cracked cylinder walls and find their way into the oil chamber. While the coolant doesn't necessarily result in dirty oil, it contaminates the oil. Here is what happens.
As coolant seeps into the oil, the oil loses its viscosity and lubrication power. And as such won't let engine parts move freely as usual. Engine oil failing to lubricate engine parts will naturally cause engine parts to grind against each other and cause engine wear.
Every vehicle has a manufacturer-recommended time to carry out an oil change. If, however, you wait too long before changing the oil, expect your old oil in car to take up a black thick color.
The following are signs that your engine oil is dirty.
● Ideally, looking at its color is the fastest way to know your oil is dirty. New oil has a translucent amber color, like that of honey, which will change as the engine works. So, the question is, what does bad oil look like? Bad or dirty oil looks black and thicker.
● Your engine becomes louder than usual as it runs.
● Your exhaust emits more smoke than normal.
● Perceiving oil smells in your cabin.
If your engine oil gets dirty quickly, even after an oil change, it means your engine is dirty. A dirty engine could stem from contamination from soot or sludge. It is also common among cars with low mileage.
Just look at its color to distinguish between clean vs dirty engine oil.
New or clean oil has a translucent amber color, close to honey color. A healthy oil can also take on amber or color close to yellow. Dark brown may mean your oil is close to the end of its life but still usable. If your oil is dark and thicker, it means it's dirty or contaminated.
Even with dirty engine oil, your car will still run. However, it is not ok to drive with dirty oil. A dirty oil indicates the oil can no longer lubricate or clean engine parts. So using it will not only decrease performance but can also destroy your engine.
Not always. While milky oil may indicate a gasket leak, it can also stem from water contamination. However, an excellent way to detect the milky oil stems from a head gasket is if your coolant level is low and your exhaust emits white smoke.
If your vehicle is not emitting white smoke and the coolant level isn't low, water contamination may be the reason you have milky oil.
How long an engine oil should stay clean depends on your car, how often you drive, and your oil type. Under normal driving conditions, your oil should stay clean for about 5000 to 7000 miles; manufacturers also recommend changing the oil after 5 to 7k miles.
However, your oil can stay for 3500 to 5000 miles during severe driving conditions. Drivers with full synthetic oil can have clean oil for up to 15000 miles or more.
Engine oil depending on the manufacturer, should last certain distances before needing change. But drivers often complain of oil getting dirty quickly. Thankfully, this article has answered the question: why does my engine oil get dirty so fast? Your engine oil gets dirty quickly due to dirty filter, excessive dirt, engine overheating, etc.
A very easy way to detect your engine oil is dirty is by looking at its colors. If it's dark and thicker, have it changed immediately. Driving with dirty car oil for long could damage your engine.