Why Is My Engine Oil Turning Red? Fixing Way

The color of your engine oil tells a lot about the condition of your engine. When the color of your engine oil is red, it shows a leak, allowing other fluids to get into the engine oil.

This article will examine questions like “Why is my engine oil turning red?” How do I fix red engine oil?” We will also look at the meaning of different oil colors and more.

red engine oil

Why Is My Engine Oil Turning Red?

One of the major signs of a vehicle’s fluid going bad or getting contaminated is a change in the fluid’s color. It shows that the fluid is no longer safe and should be changed immediately.

Red engine oil is a major complaint made by vehicle users. It shows that the oil has been contaminated. One major contamination that could cause this particular color is coolants mixing with the motor oil.

Coolants and oil are very dissimilar types of motor fluid. Motor oil is a lubricant-based fluid that reduces friction in engine parts and promotes smooth movement. On the other hand, coolants are water-based fluid that performs the function of reducing engine heat.

When oil mixes with coolant, a reaction occurs, and special additives will begin to lose effectiveness. As time passes, you will notice a red motor oil.

Once you notice the color of engine oil change, it is a sign that you need to change the oil and fix any underlying problems causing the contamination.

Meaning Of Different Motor Oil Colors

Your vehicle’s engine will change color after a certain period of usage. The color of the engine oil will tell you a lot about the engine’s condition. In most cases, a color change shows that the oil is old and needs to be changed.

There are different oil change colors,each showing you a specific engine condition. You should watch out for three major oil colors when checking your engine. They include the following.

1. Dark brown or dark car oil

When you have dark brown or dark engine oil, it could be caused by two major factors, which are exposure to too much heat or dirt. In this condition, it is advisable to have the oil changed.

The oil will no longer be able to perform cooling functions, and lubrication will be less effective. Using dark brown or dark engine oil could cause overheating and damage the engine.

2. Milky

Engine oil with a milky color shows that there is moisture present in the oil. Along with the color change caused by the moisture, your engine will produce smoke from the exhaust.

Also, the moisture in the oil could cause a leaking gasket and increase the consumption of coolants. This problem is a much serious one and needs to be taken care of as soon as possible.

3. Milky and foamy texture

If you notice that your motor oil is milky and has a foamy texture, this means there is water in it. Water will significantly affect the viscosity of the engine oil. It could also cause serious damage if it gets into the engine.

Another oil color that is less common than the above-mentioned is red car oil.As mentioned above, it is majorly caused by coolant escaping into the fluid.

Other fluids that escape from a leaking gasket could also cause your engine oil to turn red. When other foreign substances contaminate the motor oil, it attacks additives and other important components. After some time, the reaction in the fluid will cause it to change color.

Also, it is important to note that not every time you notice a motor oil with red color does it mean you have a bad engine. In some cases, oil is perfectly okay. It may be the additives present in your engine that create a color change.

What you should watch out for is the consistency of the oil. If you do not use any additives with your engine and notice a change in the color of its oil, then you need to have your engine checked and the oil changed.

What Color Is Good Engine Oil?

A normal engine oil color is meant to be amber. A synthetic oil coloris a caramel or tan, similar to a conventional oil with a light caramel color.

As you use the engine oil and it circulates through the engine blocks lubricating parts and collecting it, the color of the oil tends to change.

A major factor that could cause the oil to change color could be heat. Extreme heat coming from the engine would cause the oil expand and also to become darker. Also, as the oil moves through the engine, it collects metal particles and other forms of contamination, which could cause it to change color.

When you pull out the dipstick and find an oil with a consistent color and thickness, as when you poured it in the vehicle initially, you have a good engine free of contaminations.

What Does Burnt Engine Oil Look Like?

A burnt engine is common for vehicles that experience constant overheating or other engine problems. When the oil gets burnt, several things could happen.

First, the engine oil is burnt completely and turned to soot. The soot looks like a dark or gray powdery substance or ashes, which are the remains of the burnt oil.

When there is a leak in the engine, oil can escape into the combustion system. In the combustion system, the oil is burnt and turned into soot. After this, it is transferred into the exhaust system.

Once the soot reaches the exhaust system, it turns the exhaust gas gray. You will also notice a burning smell from the engine and the exhaust system. When it gets to this level, you must check the engine immediately.

How Do I Fix Red Engine Oil?

When you notice that the color of engine oil has changed to red, you must first ensure that there is no active additive in the engine or oil that could cause this. If you include extra additives, you have no problem; leave the oil as it is. If no additive could be traced to the change in color, it could be a leak in the engine.

One common cause of a red engine oil problem could be traced to a cracked manifold or leaking head gasket. It will allow coolants or other fluids to get to the engine oil.

To fix this problem, you may need professional help. If you have a good knowledge of how to fix engine parts, then you need to check the manifold or head gasket and fix the leaking problem,

After that, I also need to drain the contaminated oil and replace it with a new one. Remember to change the oil filter before pouring in the new oil replacement.


Now that you understand the meaning of the various oil colors, you must check the condition of your engine oil regularly. Also, observe your engine for issues related to bad engine oil. Observe the exhaust smoke; if it is gray or black, it might be an oil problem.

Akindayini Temiloluwa

I am Akindayini Temiloluwa, an automotive expert writer and car enthusiast. I have over three years of experience in the automotive writing niche and have completed over 300 pieces of content from 50 projects. I have vast knowledge and skill in vehicle repairing, all mechanical work, car upgrades and maintenance. My goal as an automotive content writer is to simplify the most challenging concepts for my readers, help them self-diagnose what may be wrong with their vehicles and offer real value for their time.

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