White color in oil

I just purchased a 2004 Ford Explorer with 24,000 miles on it. The inside of the oil dipstick tube is coated with a golden-white frothy coating which looks something like thick coffee. Is this from some contaminant in the oil?

This is ususally the result of water vapor or coolant entering the crankcase. Since you produce water vapor and CO2 for every gallon of gas burned, some of this water vapor can find its way into the crankcase and condense if the engine never warms up. The gas is called blowby, and old engines have lots of it.

Another source of water is coolant coming in through a head gasket leak, allowing the water/antifreeze mixture to mix with the oil. This type of leak is very serious, since it will cause serious internal engine damage.

Since your vehicle is relatively new, blowby would only be the case if you park outside, drive short trips only, and don’t change oil often enough.

In any case, you should have a cooling system pressure tested to see if you have a headgasket leak. If no leaks in the head gasket, check your driving habits, as mentioned.

This is usually caused from antifreeze getting into the oil from a defective internal gasket in the engine, and usually a costly repair. Take it back ASAP if you have a warranty. As mentioned above it could just be condensate build up from short trips in cold weather

Thank you!


Unfortunately, I would suspect a coolant leak, not condensation, if you have “milkshake” oil.

More than likely you have a head gasket problem or the oil cap was loose when the engine was detailed, you should not drive the vehicle but get the oil changed as well as the filter and see if the problem persist, then the next step would be to have a cooling system pressure check done and that should give you a better idea of what is going on. you can contact a ford dealer they my be able to give you insight as to any remainder of warranty coverage. good luck!


Thanks to all who replied – this is what I was afraid might be the case.

This sounds like coolant contamination in the oil but not from a head gasket leak. More than likely it’s intake manifold leak.

Coolant leaking from a a leaky head gasket gets burned off and you would have a cloud of white smoke out the tailpipe. Plus there would have to be a fair amount of coolant leaking from the head gasket to turn the oil milky, that much coolant leaking into a cylinder would cause the engine to hydro-lock.

Bottom line is don’t drive the vehicle, you risk major engine damage if you do. If you just purchased this vehicle you should see about getting your money back. They might tell you it’s just condensation but do not believe them if they tell you this, milky oil is a coolant leakage problem.