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Engine Sludge Symptom – How Serious Is Engine Sludge? 

Engine Sludge Symptom

Engine sludge is plaguing your vehicle and now is the time for you to get all of the information you need now. Check out some of the most common engine sludge symptoms and more! 

Auto Repairs Are EXPENSIVE


What is Engine Sludge? 

Engine sludge is a term that describes the formation of heavy and thick deposits that collect in an engine’s crankcase. Additionally:

  • Engine sludge can look like heavy and thick grease or tar. 
  • The sludge can also come from the oxidation and thickening of the engine oil. 
  • The sludge material can be so thick that it blocks a vehicle’s lubricating system. 
  • Engine sludge can become so thick and dangerous for a car, that it can cause an engine to seize. 

What Causes Engine Sludge? 

The formation of engine sludge can typically be traced to deficient car servicing- examples include missed oil changes or incorrect oils in the car’s system. Poor quality additives and oils can also contribute to engine sludge. 


How Can I Deal With My Vehicle’s Engine Sludge? 

The correct course of action of treating engine sludge is done on case by case basis. But the presence of engine sludge is not evaluated until an engine has failed.  In many instances a mechanic has to dismantle the engine and corresponding parts and look at the extent of damage. With repairing the vehicle, the mechanic will remove the sludge and find what was the reason for it in the first place. The mechanic will have to recondition the engine. There is a possibility that the engine sludge can be removed, without completely dismantling the engine- the mechanic will have to decide the best course of action depending on the amount of sludge and the reason for its existence in the first place. 


How Serious is Engine Sludge? 

Unfortunately, engine sludge can become a very serious issue. Car owners whose cars develop engine sludge will generally spend hundreds of dollars on very expensive repairs. Engine sludge develops around as well as on your vehicle’s motor, once oil begins to break down and collect on the engine. Once there is engine sludge, the oil will no longer to lubricate the moving parts of a vehicle’s motor properly.  


What Are Some Of The Most Common Causes of Engine Sludge? 

Should you happen to encounter the issues below with your car that we outline, these signs may mean that you have engine sludge.  Check out some telltale signs you may have engine sludge: 

  • There is a visible oily as well as greasy substance located inside the oil filter. 
  • You have low oil pressure in your car. 
  • There are clicking sounds from the tappet. 
  • Your “check oil” light illuminates from your vehicle. 
  • The draining of engine oil is very slow- slower than normal. 

Engine Sludge Can Produce Noise from The Tappet Area 

If your engine develops sludge, then there is a great chance that most of the sludge is quite visible from below the head, right near the tappet area. The engine sludge will cause the tappets alongside the hydraulic jacks to operate with lots of noise- which can be heard as fast ticking or clicking sounds. Why does this happen? There is not enough oil to lubricate the rams as well as the springs due to too much sludge.  An engine’s tappets help to control the movement of the exhaust valves and the air intake. They move up and down very fast. This is the reason that lots of the mud can be seen in this tappets area. Additionally, the oil will break down fast due to lots of mixing and heat combining. Once the engine sludge is removed, the noise will go away. 


Engine Sludge Symptom- Oil Light and Low Oil Pressure Indictors Come On 

Why does the oil light and the low oil pressure lights illuminate on a driver’s dash? This is due to the sludge causing the oil to slowly circulate downward.  As result, the oil will lose its pressure- resulting in the oil light to coming on. Now a problem for the engine exists because the engine will not get the oil it needs. Oil pressure can also be lost at the oil filter too. Once the oil filter is clogged, the oil will take a gradual and slow trip down the filter before it enters into the vehicle’s engine. 


What Are Some of the Symptoms and Warning Signs That I Have Engine Sludge? 

One engine sludge symptom… two engine sludge symptoms. How may symptoms do you have? Check out some warning signs you need to look for that may indicate that you have engine sludge. 

  • You have intermittent flashings of the oil light.
  • There is low oil pressure present. 
  • You either have slow or no draining of oil at all, once the vehicle’s sump pump is taken off. (Your engine sludge is keeping the remaining oil in your vehicle, from draining properly). 
  • You can see the thick sludge in rocker covers and oil fillers, as well as in and on more parts. 
  • Your vehicle’s engine refuses to accept the designated amount of oil after you receive an oil change. The sludge has taken up the space instead. 
  • You are experiencing noisy hydraulic lifters. 


How Can I Prevent Engine Sludge in the First Place? 

Check out ways you can prevent engine sludge and keep a smooth-running car. 

  1. If you see that your vehicle is low on oil pressure, get that vehicle inspected for motor oil sludge and wait on adding engine or motor oil. 
  2. Is your oil pressure light on? Then it’s time to see a mechanic ASAP so he or she can inspect the vehicle. 
  3. Is the gauge on your dashboard showing that your vehicle is heating up? Share this with your mechanic so that he or she can check for motor oil sludge. 
  4. Try not to do lots of stop-and-go driving. You may also want to limit short distance trips as well. 
  5. After starting your car, look at your vehicle’s dashboard and see if the “check engine light” is on or the “need oil change light” is on. Both or either light illuminating on your dash may indicate you need to check your motor oil levels or replace the motor oil in there. 
  6. Make sure that you never miss oil changes. Oil changes and regular maintenance are vital in preventing engine sludge as well as other issues. 

Engine Sludge Symptom Facts & More 

Check out these facts about engine sludge, symptoms and helpful advice below 

Dirty Oil Does Not Always Equal Bad Oil 

Lots of times, engine sludge is often thought of “’dirty oil” sitting in a car. But there is more to it than that. Your engine oil is supposed to get dirty. That engine oil has the job of traveling all around your engine, and lubricating the metal that is around the engine as well as other parts. Should your engine oil come across debris, metal shavings, water, dirt and other contaminants, that oil will absorb them and run them through a filter.  


Oil Will Lose its Slickness and Become Sticky 

Over time, oil will encounter heat, dirt and other debris. This will lead to oxidation- changing the oil at a molecular level. Your oil will change from slick to thick and tacky. The contaminants in the oil will stick and begin to clog your vehicle’s filter. Once this happens, your oil will lose its ability to tolerate heat – leading the oil to heat and even burn on several of your vehicle’s components. 


Engine Sludge Can Kill An Engine 

While the components of your vehicle’s engine are designed to glide and slide against each other without issue, engine sludge can attach to any metal surface can cause a ruckus. Furthermore, your engine sludge has now turned the vital moving parts against one another, creating stifling movements and more discord.  As the sludge begins to clog the moving components, the passageways close up and are no longer pathways, but blockages. This means that your oil is not able to get to the most critical parts of the car, that are meant to protect your engine. Engine seizure is virtually inevitable at this point. 


Synthetic Oil is a Good Choice, but it is Not Your Savior 

Synthetic oils are great oils. For one reason, they are less of a risk of damage due to temperature compared to conventional oils. If you live in a cold climate, synthetic oil will keep your car starts consistent. Synthetic oil also helps to reduce the wear that happens when your cold engine is running. 


They also have a far lower evaporation rate compared to conventional oils. So, is synthetic oil a good choice? Yes, but don’t consider it a magical cure against sludge. You still need to have good maintenance habits with your vehicle. Regular oil changes and watching for “red flags” are great places to start. Click here to read our post about what a synthetic oil change is! 


Engine Sludge Buildup Is Costly To Fix 

A car dealer may charge you between $600 and $700 for sludge removal as well as an engine flush. You may find a cheaper engine sludge removal and engine flush deal at a neighborhood car shop. While repairing engine sludge is not cheap, you want to make sure that you speak with your mechanic and find out specifically what he or she has to do to remove the engine sludge as well as flush your engine. 

Can I Buy A Can OF Engine Flush And Do A Flush Myself? 

While we recommend that you visit a mechanic for a professional engine sludge removal and flush, there are some great engine flushes on the market. Your engine collects sludge and begins to run poorly when it’s clogged with deposits, dirt and debris. A great engine flush will help remove as well as clean the sludge. Some of the top picks on the market include: 


Engine Sludge Symptom- Related Content You May Find Helpful 

In addition to this post about engine sludge symptoms, check out our related posts that you may find very helpful! Click the title to each and read more! 

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