Brownish Oil

I just had an oil change in my 1998 BMW 540i. The oil already appears “dirty” with a little brownish sludge stuff in it. Is this normal?

Thats normal depending on your oil change frequency, number of miles on the engine and your driving style/conditions. If you change your oil more frequently, you’ll see less of this, but after enough miles, 100k or so, then its pretty much a given.

How many miles ago is “just changed”? If the new oil is brown but still translucent then all is good. If the oil is brown or gray like mud then you have big problems. Can you post a picture of the oil on the stick?

One more question - is it uniformly brownish, or are there small lumps of brown stuff in lighter-colored oil? If the latter, I’d take to your mechanic and see what he thinks.

By “brownish” do you mean like choclate milk?

Oil that has sort of a chocolate milk color usually has water whipped into it. This can be because of nothing but short trips that never get the engine hot enough to evaporate the condensation or something more serious like a coolant leak.

New oil looks sort of amber and the amber color gets darker as carbon gets mixed with the oil eventually turning black, that is normal.

Never mind, this answer was posted before the photos were posted.

It was changed on Thursday, about 100 miles ago.
Here’s a photo. I have another if this one isn’t telling. The oil is not totally opaque. It’s just a shock after and $80.00 worth of oil at the oil change.

From this pic it looks ok. Can you do a macro setting on the camera and get a pic close enough to see the writing on the stick?

The picture looks good and it proves that the oil is doing the job that it was intended to do. I had heard that the oil looking clean or dirty was due to the type of filter. Ford oil stayed cleaner looking than GM oil in the past, if I remember correctly. I have other details about that but I don’t know if they are true details.

How’s this one?

i don’t see any small lumps. It’s more like a suspension of brownish residue looking stuff which has no residue feel at all.

ALMOST LOOKS COOKED TO ME.Does it smell hot?

It is not unusual for oil to change color shortly after a change. All it means is that the last oil may have run out of detergent to suspend stuff and the new oil’s detergents are working as designed.

If you like you should do another oil (and filter) change now. It will not hurt anything other than the cost. Frankly I suspect no problem.

How long was it between the oil change and when you noticed the color change? How long have you had the car and has it done this at prior oil changes? Who did the oil changes (you or ???) Any other issues with your car?

I’ve had the car eight days. I bought the car on Sunday. I had a friend check the oil the following morning and he said it looked clean. I wanted the car checked over so, on Wednesday I took the car to the mechanic who services BMW, Mercedes, VW. The check engine light had come on that very morning. The mechanic did an engine diagnostic and a 30 point inspection. The engine light was on because some vacuum plugs were missing from the evap system. The plugs were replaced and the system was reset. He found an oil leak and a coolant hose leak (the hose burst in the shop). The oil leak repair included oil pan gasket, oil level sender 0-ring, oil filter, Motor oil, coolant antifreeze, fuel additive, sealing washer. The coolant repair included an heater hose and pre mixed coolant. I’m not sure why coolant antifreeze appears on invoice detail for the oil leak and pre-mixed coolant is on invoice detail for coolant hose leak.
I picked up the car on Friday and checked the oil Sunday morning, driving under 100 miles probably.
The other maintenance included 2 new drive belts and air filter and fuel filter.
The mechanic said the car is in really good shape. I’m sure if there was any evidence of a sludge problem, surely he would have mentioned it.

What does that mean: “looks cooked”. I’m not sure what “hot” smells like.

Judging from the longish list of repairs done my guess is the previous owner went a long time without an oil change and the oil was very dirty. The bottom tip of the dipstick looks very dark, like the beginning of sludge. That should come off with a firm wiping. The new oil is picking up the residue left from the previous oil, as it should.

You didn’t say how many total miles are on the vehicle. Frankly though, I don’t see a problem. BMW has long oil change intervals when using the oil they specify. It tends to get darker and I believe it is darker to begin with. Anyway, the oil is cleaning the engine and I would caution you to not use any additives with this oil. You may want to get it looked at when it has a 1000 miles and again at 3000. You may want to do another oil change at one of those intervals if the oil gets really dark, but otherwise, don’t change it until its needed.

The oil leak repair included oil pan gasket, oil level sender 0-ring, oil filter, Motor oil, coolant antifreeze, fuel additive, sealing washer. Are there any additives in this list I shouldn’t use?
There are 87,500 miles on the car now.
I checked the owner’s manual to find out what type of oil to use and it said to check with my BMW retailer.

What’s an example of really dark oil? Would it be black and opaque? Or would it appear as it does now but darker like chestnuts?

Ok,how about overheated. A hot smell is the odor of oil breaking down and reaching its flash point where it combusts. Add some cooking oil in a hot pan. As it heats up and begins to smoke it will produce a hot smell.

No it just smells like motor oil. I don’t detect any burnt, smokey or off smells. The end of the dipstick is really dark but circuitsmith says that should wipe off with a good effort. I think it will be okay. I might change it a little early.

By all remarks, you should be good to go Eyeball the engine as you can.