If you're experiencing metal shavings in your oil, these are normal components of the engine wear, and your oil filter should catch them. However, if you still see them in your oil, you might need an oil change, replace the oil filter, or inspect the engine.
Your motor oil is one of the most critical fluids you must include avoiding overheating and friction in the engine.
This oil is not designed to last forever, and there will be a point when it goes bad and requires replacement. A very common situation is where your oil might need replacement, and your oil filter might need to be replaced when you have metal shavings in your oil.
This article serves as a detailed guide for metal shavings in your oil. It highlights the main causes and signs and provides you with recommendations about potential fixes.
Are metal shavings in your oil normal?
Before we dive into the details about the different causes and fixes for metal shavings in your oil, the first question you need to ask yourself is whether these metal shavings are normal or not in your oil.
According to experts, motor oil should have some flakes and contaminations as it ages. However, when you start seeing bigger flakes, including the metal shavings in your oil, that's not a typical normal situation. In other words, it could indicate an internal issue you must explore and resolve.
Experts mentioned that it's not normal to see clear collections of metal flakes on your motor oil, and whenever you notice this thing, you have to consult your mechanic immediately and have him investigate the issue and resolve the cause.
Metal shavings in your oil: causes
Since metal shavings in your oil are not something normal that you should ignore, the next step for you as a driver is to familiarize yourself with the different causes that could cause the metal to accumulate in form of flicks that you can detect with your naked eye.
During its lifetime, the oil runs through different components around your engine. Most of these components are made of metal, and as they wear out during normal conditions, they can release bigger flakes of metal that could run with the oil.
The metal components typically we're out and allow smaller amounts of metal to chip off over time which is considered normal engine wear.
Typically, the oil filter catches all these metal flakes before the oil runs through sensitive components in your engine. However, sometimes the oil filter might not be as good at capturing these finer flakes, so they might escape and reach outside the engine itself and allow you to see them.
It is important for you as a driver to understand what needs to be done to take care of this problem and determine whether it's a sign that you need to replace the oil, replace the oil filter, or look into something else that's causing this continuous chip off of metal.
Additional signs of metal shavings in your oil
It's good that you keep a visual inspection of your motor oil and be concerned about any potential metal shavings in your oil. However, some additional signs could help you confirm the problem.
In other words, sometimes the contaminants or smaller debris in your oil might be normal, but you need to understand when it's getting to a point where you must take immediate action to resolve the issue.
The following list provides you with potential additional signs to watch for indicating some serious metal flakes and metal shavings in your oil:
1. Significant reduction in engine power
The first and most common sign indicating that your engine oil is not good and that the metal shavings are not something to ignore is when you have a significant reduction in your vehicle’s overall power.
Have you ever tried hitting the gas pedal and realized that your vehicle is not responding and providing you with the required energy? That could be it, and you should look at the engine oil to resolve the problem.
Keep in mind that reduced engine power is not only driven by dirty or contaminated engine oil because there could be many reasons that could trigger the problem. Therefore, your mechanic needs to perform a thorough inspection to confirm the real culprit and resolve it.
2. Weird ticking noise
In addition to reducing your engine power, you might notice that your engine is making a weird ticking noise. This could be a problem related to the oil and could also be linked to some other issues that you should always pay attention to.
What is the ticking noise coming from dirty oil or something else? Your mechanic needs to know because when the engine ticks, it indicates a serious issue that needs to be addressed immediately.
The more you wait on the problem, the more complicated it gets. As a rule of thumb, automotive experts always recommend consulting the mechanic whenever you notice some early signs of component damage. Once you report to the mechanic early, there's a very high chance that you can fix the problem without needing to install measure components.
3. Strange rough idling
When your vehicle is set to idle, it shouldn't be rough. Rough idling could indicate a serious internal issue in your vehicle. This could be related to the oil but could also be linked to many other things you should investigate.
If you feel your vehicle is idling roughly, you must consult your mechanic and describe the situation carefully. You must also provide additional details about how often your engine performs this weird roughing and whether it's something you notice every time you start your vehicle.
4. Engine knocking
Another important sign you should keep up with to help you determine whether the metal shavings in your oil are critical is when you feel that your engine is making some knocking noise.
Sometimes older engines might start knocking noises as part of their normal aging. However, if your vehicle is not very old, a knocking noise could indicate a strange thing that happened recently. Your mechanic can perform a detailed investigation to confirm whether it's related to shavings in your oil or something else.
5. Reduce fuel economy
When your engine is stressed out and not receiving clean oil, it might get overheated and might get to the point where it consumes more fuel than it should. You'll notice this by tracking the times you visit the gas station to fill your vehicle.
Remember that reduced fuel economy can also be linked to various other problems. Therefore, you cannot immediately say there are metal shavings in your oil by just monitoring how much fuel you use.
6. Obvious white exhaust
Finally, when metal shavings are in your oil, you'll see that the exhaust is a clear white color. Typically, the exhaust does not have a very obvious color, especially if you're driving a modern car.
However, if you start noticing this white exhaust, it should trigger something in your mind. Remember that sometimes your vehicle might show white smoke when you start the car in a cold morning, which is considered a typical situation. However, if this becomes a continuous issue, that's when you should be concerned.
White exhaust does not always mean dirty oil because of metal shavings. It could also mean a blown head gasket or something else. The rule of thumb here is to address the problem, whether it's related to the oil or something else.
How to fix metal shavings in your oil?
If you confirm that your vehicle contains metal shavings in your oil, you then have one of the following solutions:
1. Perform an oil change
The most straightforward thing you need to do is change the current motor oil. Check the last time you performed that oil change because you might be overdue. If that's the case, check with your mechanic what else needs to be done, considering the delayed oil change last time.
Even if you do not do all the changes, changing your current oil might be a temporary solution until you figure out what's going on and causing the metal shavings in your oil.
2. Change the oil filter
Many inexperienced mechanics might need to remember to change your oil filter every time they perform an oil change. This is a big mistake. It might lead to many problems that could clog the filter and result in consequences for your vehicle’s performance.
A great idea to resolve any issues with metal shavings in your oil is to confirm whether your mechanic replaced the oil filter last time. If that wasn't replaced, it's good timing to replace it and confirm that your vehicle is working properly.
3. Inspect and fix the engine
Finally, there might be a situation where your engine has a serious internal problem that results in continuous metal chipping from the different internal components. If that's the case, your mechanic needs to perform a detailed inspection and understand why your engine is doing so.
Once the inspection is completed, your mechanic will have a list of recommendations about what needs to be done next. For example, he might recommend replacing certain components within your engine. However, in some serious scenarios, the mechanic might recommend replacing the entire engine with thousands of dollars in repair.
We typically recommend that you perform a detailed evaluation to determine whether it's worth fixing this vehicle or selling it instead. For example, if you confirm that repair costs are getting close to 75% or more of the value of your vehicle, this is perfect timing for selling your car and buying a better one.
However, if your payroll costs are low, then you recommend performing them. So, your vehicle doesn't complain about additional issues that could cost you more money.
How to avoid metal shavings in your oil?
If you're concerned about the metal shavings in your oil, it is recommended that you be proactive about the problem and prevent it in the first place. For example, automotive experts recommend the following as a starting point for preventing metal shavings in your oil:
- Perform regular oil changes and never delay an oil change
- Remember to replace the oil filter every time you perform an oil change
- Inspect the engine continuously and detect any early signs of engine damages
- Follow the recommendations in your vehicle’s owner’s manual and perform all the regular maintenance on time
Metal shavings in your oil: Final thoughts
As your vehicle’s oil gets sturdy, it impacts your vehicle’s performance. However, there are some scenarios where the oil might contain weird elements like metal shavings. If that's the case, you need to address the problem as soon as possible before it gets complicated and impacts sensitive components in your engine.
This article serves as detailed guidance on metal shavings in your oil. Highlights the main causes and provides you with recommendations on potential solutions. If you feel that the metal shaving is continuous and doesn't go away even by changing the motor oil, it could indicate an internal issue in the engine itself.
If you're a mechanic who suggested a high number for repair costs, it makes sense for you to sell the vehicle and buy a better one rather than wasting your time, money, and effort trying to get it to work.
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