What Color Should Oil Be on Dipstick? Save Your Engine Now!

Checking your oil regularly is one of the most important things to do when it’s about your car’s regular maintenance. Besides oil color, checking the level and viscosity is also important.

You will be astonished to know what things a simple oil color can indicate for your car’s health. So, it’s really important that you keep a regular eye on the color change.

So, what color should oil be on dipstick? Generally, a normal oil means something close to an amber or slightly golden color. But a little brownish is not bad either. However, if it gets too thick or dark, it might indicate some serious damage.

How Does the Oil Color Affect Your Car’s Health?

Your car’s health can provide you with a lot of signals depending on the color, consistency, and level of the oil so that you can both identify the problem and take the necessary steps to solve it.

Over time, your engine’s oil color can get different with contaminants, ruined additives, heat, and many more reasons. Though the oil color change can tell you a lot about your car’s condition, you shouldn’t depend on this factor and wait to change the oil in time.

How to Check Your Engine’s Oil Color On the Dipstick and Clarify:

It isn’t a really long process, and you will be able to have a small inspection of the levels too! To do that, you need to place your car on a smooth ground and let the engine cool for around 10-15 minutes in case you were driving.

You can use hand-gloves if you do not want to get your hands dirty. After your engine has cooled down, you need to pop up the cover and find the oil dipstick. Generally, it comes with a plastic red or orange pull-tab.

If you are unable to find it or saw two different dipsticks inside the cover, you will need to consult the manufacturer to get the correct one.

Once you have found the dipstick, get it out, cleanse it using a rag or paper towel, and then place it again into the tube. You will need to wait for a few minutes and then pull it out again to note the oil color, viscosity, and level.

After you have seen everything you needed, wipe the dipstick one more time and out it back to where it belongs.

What Color Should Oil Be on Dipstick?

Usually, the new engine oil will be roughly golden or vaguely semitransparent amber color with a mix up of olive oil. Now, after you have added a new to your engine, it goes through all the engine parts, lubricates the moving components, keeps the engine clean, and saves the engine from every kind of corrosion and rust.

So, with time, your engine oil will get thicker and darker, which will make it less effective at its job. But if it doesn’t work the way it’s supposed to be, it will be bad for your engine’s overall health and eventually lead to wear as well as oil consumption.

So, you should always be extra careful when it comes to your engine oil and check it regularly for any kind of abnormality.

What Different Oil Color Means:


  • Cream Colored or Milky Colored Oil:

If your oil color has changed to something similar to milky or creamy, it could indicate a possible gasket leak. You can also identify by this problem if the exhaust has started blowing white smoke or your car is losing coolant.

Moreover, creamy oil can also indicate water contamination. Unless you see any white smoke or low coolant, you can keep water contamination in your list.

  • Dark Oil:

The dark oil is something that can mean a number of bad things. While it can be dark simply due to the additives, it can also indicate that your vehicle needs an urgent oil change.

Or, if the oil is both thick and dark, it can be telling you about contaminants or dirt. High heat is also a possibility for which can cause the oil to get darker. However, that will come with a disturbing burning smell when you will try to check out the dipstick.

You have nothing to worry about as long as the oil is somewhat dark brown. Dark black should be getting extra attention from you.  

  • Color OD Clean Engine Oil:

Clean engine oil will always be in a shade of amber, which depends on the oil type and age of your car. However, some of the additives can cause your oil to get darker. Combustion can be another cause of dark oil.

Though there will be a number of negativities, oil darkening can be a good thing sometimes, and it typically means that your oil is doing its work.

What Does Black Engine Oil Mean?

The most common reason for your engine oil to get black is that it’s old, especially when it’s sludgy or thick. However, in some cases, it can be caused due to contaminants, which will reduce the overall engine performance, cause insufficient gas mileage, and can eventually lead to engine failure.

Why Does Your Engine Oil Get Rust-Colored?

Research says that people living in humid areas or in cold weather face the rust-colored engine oil more often. Humid weather conditions can be responsible for condensation build-up as well as external rust on the metal dipstick of your car. Which later results in the rust-colored oil.

If you get a reddish look from your oil, it might indicate a possible existence of transmission fluid. If this happens to you, you should seek professional help immediately.


So, I hope now you have a good idea about What color should oil be on dipstick? While a good oil color will be somewhere near amber or golden, a little dark or brownish color won’t hurt you much.

But you should know that this color change can sometimes mean a lot of things about your car’s health. So, whenever you see an abnormality, contact a professional immediately.

I hope that this article contained everything you needed to know. Remember, the key part is, check your dipstick frequently to have a healthy car.

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