Engine Oil Sludge – Is Caused By Your Engine Oil Breaking Down

Engine oil sludge
Engine oil sludge

Engine oil sludge is actually the thickening and breakdown of your engine oil.

Engine oil sludge is actually comprised of,

  • Unburnt and partially burned fuel
  • Metal fragments from engine component wear
  • Dirt and debris that find a way inside your car’s engine

Engine oil sludge is also caused by deteriorating piston rings and seals allowing partially combusted fuel to escape.

The oil now carries the deposits through the engine.

At some point they will find somewhere to settle.

As a result restricting or blocking the surrounding oil flow, which causes increased engine wear.

Engine oil sludge-What can cause it,

  • Excessive idling and lots of short trips, which prevent the oil from fully cycling
  • Environmental contaminants in the oil (like dirt and debris)
  • Condensation, which can contaminate the oil with moisture
  • Hot spots, which bake clumps and oil right onto the engine
Engine oil sludge
Engine oil sludge

Deposits are thick and gummy as they form, and often harden once they settle somewhere in the engine. Heat from the engine will quickly cook the deposits solid, and once a blockage spot is established, new buildup will often settle on top of it instead of allowing the oil to flow around it. Soon, there are hard layers of grime, which are difficult to remove. Prime targets for various forms of deposits include the fuel injectors, piston rings and valves, all of which will interfere with the engine’s smooth and efficient operation.

Once the oil starts to break down, it’s increasingly less able to do the hard work of lubricating the engine. The oil’s numerous additives and detergents also suffer over time.

Furthermore at some point additives and detergents will,

  • Evaporate
  • Lose potency
  • Disappear

So as the oil’s lubricating properties are diminished, they are less able to clean the engine’s surfaces.

  • Help your fuel economy
  • Trap contaminant particles
  • Condition the engine’s seals

Make sure that you change your oil and oil filter on a regular basis. Since the development of engine sludge is directly related to how often you change your oil.

Engine oil sludge
Engine oil sludge

Manufacturers market their oils with specific additives to customize their products for different types of cars, varying weather conditions and different driving purposes — like high-mileage cars, stop-and-go commuting or even racing applications. As a result these oil additives include conditioners that lubricate the seals to prevent passage of debris, and detergents that help clean.

Detergents are there primarily to prevent deposits. They’ll also inhibit rust and corrosion inside your car’s engine, and may help dissolve existing buildup before it becomes a problem.

Also dispersants break down build up and suspend the particles in the oil. The end result is the filter catching the contaminants.