What Color is the Engine Oil on Dipstick?

As you accumulate those miles, your car’s engine oil will need to be replaced. The engine oil color is a sign that tells the time to replace the oil. Consider it like washing the drapes; if the drape’s color is dark, it indicates that it is time to wash it.

Similarly, to engine oil, you can determine what to do by inspecting the engine oil color. Failure to adhere to oil change schedules might result in catastrophic harm to your car.

Let’s learn more about the various color of engine oil on dipsticks and what it indicates.

What Color Should Engine Oil Be On A Dipstick?

Different companies provide oils in somewhat different colors and each claims to have the greatest engine oils, but what color is car oil meant to be?

When checking engine oil for optimal performance, it should normally be amber or close to yellow in color. A new, clean engine oil is often translucent with an amber glow, but an older engine oil has a deeper color and is dense with pollutants.

What Does a Color of Oil Tell About the Car Health?

Examining the color and level of your motor oil can provide immediate insight into the health of your engine, helping you in identifying potential problems such as engine oil leaks.

Engine oil color can change due to a variety of variables, including age, additive deterioration, pollutants, and heat. While certain motor oil colors may aid in the detection of potential problems, color alone should not be used to justify delaying an oil change or as a do-it-yourself diagnostic tool.

Indeed, most manufacturers recommend that you schedule your next oil change based on your mileage, driving conditions, and the oil change intervals specified in your owner’s manual.

Different Engine Oil Colors

The new amber engine oil with a glassy glow that is poured through the fill cap is bound to lose its richness. As it is exposed to and subjected to intense heat cycles in the engine compartment, it develops dark tints.

This color change is natural, however, the exact time when it begins is unknown, and it is advisable to check the engine oil once a month.

Colors of engine oil can be classed as:

1. Engine Oil of Amber Color

Amber is the color of recently changed engine oil. While the exact color of the oil varies between manufacturers. An amber’s transparent appearance is what distinguishes a good engine oil from a dirty one.

2. Engine Oil of Slight Brown Color

The next stage in the color shift of engine oil is a slight browning tone. It is a telltale sign that the heat engine oil has been heated. After a few hundred kilometers, you may notice that your engine oil has turned this color. This, however, is entirely natural.

3. Engine Oil of Dark Brown or Black Color

True to its hue, engine oil with a dark tone like tar is a bad sign and should be replaced promptly.

Additionally, you must watch for increased viscosity in the oil caused by debris and dust. The darkening of the engine oil is often caused by sludge buildup, most likely by off-roading and dark exposure to soil. Therefore, if your car has lately been exposed to a significant amount of dirt, an oil change is a good option.

4. Milky Texture Engine Oil

The milky quality of the oil with a white streak is primarily caused by a coolant leak in the system. Additionally, you will notice that your exhaust will shoot out white smoke in this condition.

A coolant top-off and oil replacement are required since the engine oil has deteriorated.

5. Engine Oil of Cream Color with Froth

Engine oil that has a frothy top and a creamy texture around it may be contaminated with water. If you find that the back puffs are clear of white smoke, the next possible source of engine oil contamination could be water exposure.

It is recommended to have the oil cleaned and replenished, as moisture can impair the oil’s capacity to lubricate.

How to Check the Color and Clarity of Engine Oil?

Checking the color of your oil does not take much time and at the same time, it allows you to check the oil level. Wait 10 or 15 minutes for the engine to cool after parking your car on level ground. Wear gloves, if you prefer to keep your hands clean.

The oil dipstick is often orange or red in color and has a red pull-tab. If you find it difficult to locate or discover two dipsticks beneath the hood, consult the manual of the vehicle owner for assistance in identifying the correct one.

Clean the dipstick with a paper towel or rag after removing it, then reinsert it completely into its tube. Wait a bit before pulling it out again to check the oil level, color, and viscosity. After obtaining a clean reading of your engine’s oil color, wipe the dipstick one final time and then thoroughly reinstall it.


While the oil change interval on current cars is often between 7000 and 1000 miles, this does not mean you should ignore other obvious signals of replacement, such as color.

As mentioned earlier, consider certain factors to check the color of the oil. If you notice the engine oil turning a dark brown/black color even though it has not reached the end of its run, you should disregard the numbers in your manual, as sludge-contaminated engine oil can be detrimental to the engine’s health. I hope that the information we provided will guide you to deal with engine color changes.

Liam Dare

As CEO of ReplicarClub.com, my passion for the automotive world motivates me to build online businesses that provide information and entertainment to users. I am proud to contribute in a positive way to the automotive community.