What Is Oil Sludge and Is It Bad?

Oil sludge is a thick, gooey substance that forms in your engine. It's caused by the breakdown of oil, which is naturally occurring. The oil then breaks down further into carbon and sludge. How does it hurt your car? Read on to find out how it does and what you should do about it.

How does engine sludge form?

Engine sludge is a buildup of solid deposits on the engine's internal parts. These deposits are composed of metal oxides and carbonates that build up over time due to engine wear, and they can cause the engine to perform poorly.
Engine sludge forms when parts in an engine wear out, or are damaged by excessive wear. The most common causes for this damage include:

  • long-term exposure to high temperatures
  • excessive idling (when the vehicle is parked)
  • driving over rough roads or driving with worn-out tires
  • using poor-quality oil in your vehicle

How can oil sludge hurt my car?

The problem with oil sludge is that it can clog your engine, which will make your car run less efficiently and decrease its lifespan. When a car's engine runs inefficiently, it uses more gas, which can increase your fuel costs or even lead to other issues like poor acceleration and overheating.
If you don't regularly change your oil, the sludge will build up and cause your engine to stop working properly. That can cause your car to overheat, which can lead to major damage or even a fire.
Oil sludge can be caused by:

  • Not changing your oil regularly (it needs to be changed every 3,000-5,000 miles)
  • Driving for long periods in extreme temperatures (excess heat can cause oil to break down faster)
  • Using poor quality oil or using synthetic oil that's not meant for your engine type

How to avoid engine sludge

You can avoid oil sludge by having your oil checked every 3000 miles or so. Also, if the check engine or oil light comes on, that's usually a sign that the oil needs to be changed before it turns into sludge.

If you're due for an oil change, we invite you to bring your vehicle to Westside Car Care today!