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On the Rich Location
1685 Richardson Hwy, North Pole, AK 99705


Pearson Auto West
4415 Airport Road, Fairbanks, Alaska 99709

Car Oil Colors and Their Meanings

Pearson Auto technician pours clean car oil into a container.

Does the color of your vehicle’s oil really matter? It sure does! The color gives you a hint as to the health of your oil — and thus, the health of your car.

How to Check Your Oil

Checking the color of your oil is super simple. Just grab a dipstick, dip it into your oil tank, and pull it out. You should be able to see the color of the oil on the stick. Don’t see any oil? Then it’s mostly been burned off, meaning you’re in desperate need of an oil change!

Oil Colors

Caramel or Amber

If this is the color of your oil, you’re golden (pun very much intended). A caramel, amber, or tan shade means your oil is clean and equipped to do its job.

Dark Brown or Black

This is what you DON’T want. Black or dark oil is oil that is dirty or overly exposed to heat. This typically happens when you go too long between oil changes — the oil has cycled through your engine too many times and picked up a lot of debris along the way. Get your oil changed stat!

Cream or Milky

Cream colored or milky looking oil indicates there’s a moisture issue. It could be from a gasket leak, which can lead to costly repairs if the head gasket blows. If the oil also appears frothy, then you’ve definitely got moisture contaminating the oil. Either way, take your car into an auto shop to find the source of the problem.

The Importance of Oil Changes

If you skip your oil changes, the oil stops doing its job — or at least stops doing it well. This puts more of a burden on your engine, which, left unchecked, could lead to damage or even total engine failure. Keep your oil in good shape — and a beautiful caramel color, of course — to avoid these kinds of issues. The best rule of thumb is to have your oil changed every 3,000 to 5,000 miles.

Are you due for an oil change? Schedule an appointment with Pearson today.

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