What Is Oil Sludge and Is It Bad for Your Car?

You may have probably heard from one or multiple car owners about how oil sludge can damage the engine, but you may be wondering what it is. Oil sludge is a thick gel-like substance comprising metal fragments, dirt, and partly burnt fuel. The gel is formed when the engine oil oxidizes or/and gets contaminated.

Oil Sludge Build Up

At first, oil sludge settles on top of your engine, on the valve cover, and inside the oil pan. Afterward, it may block the siphon, impeding oil circulation within the engine. You may be wondering why oil sludge builds up in your car's engine. One of the core causes of engine sludge buildup is driving in heavy traffic often. Another reason for the oil sludge problem is long periods of stop-and-go driving and driving over short distances repeatedly. Additional causes of oil sludge buildup include:

  • A faulty head gasket
  • Oil contamination by the emission system
  • Oil filler cap seal failure
  • Using poor quality oil
  • Inadequate/no oil changes

How Oil Sludge Damages Cars

The main problem oil sludge triggers is blocking oil circulation in the engine. Oil lubricates and cools down your car's engine, and reduced or no oil circulation will imply increased friction and overheating when the engine runs. These events further cause moving engine parts to strain to work and wear out quickly. For that reason, oil sludge will make your car work efficiently, can trigger expensive engine repairs, and it may reduce the engine's lifespan.

Preventing Oil Sludge

The best way to prevent oil sludge is by using synthetic oil in your engine. Changing oil often also helps eliminate oil sludge buildup. Some manufacturers recommend changing your engine oil at least after driving 3,000 miles or for three months.

Oil sludge buildup can harm your engine and affect your car's overall performance. The positive side of the problem is that if the defect is identified early enough, the mechanic fixes it before it damages the engine. If you're due for an oil change, we invite you to bring your vehicle to Bay Area Tire & Service Centers today!