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Detailed Explanation On Car Engine Sludge

Nwogbunyama Emeka




Engine oil performs vital functions which aids in maintaining optimum engine performance, maximizing engine life as well as cooling the engine.

When this engine oil isn’t pure as it should be, it can bring up a problem to the car. This problem can be called Engine Sludge.

Engine sludge is in its simplest term Accumulated mass of impure carbon particles due to incomplete combustion of hydrocarbons. It is a dirty, sticky, grease-like substance formed due to oxidation/contamination of engine oil.

There are several things that can cause a car engine to be filled with sludge. Some of them are:

1. Delayed service/maintenance:
When the engine oil is used longer than prescribed by the manufacturer, it is prone to form sludge.
When service is delayed, there is a high chance that sludge will be formed. This will make the oil not to flow freely in the engine compartment.

2. Making use of inferior oil:
You’re likely to fall into this trap if you don’t make use of your car manual. It is wise to use the engine oil recommended by your car manufacturer.
German car owners should take note. They are mostly affected.

3. Bad fuel:
Bad fuel leads to carbon build up which is engine sludge formation. This gradually suffocates the engine and cause problem to the fuel system.

4. Excessive car idling:
The term idling simply refers to as the engine running but the car is stationary and not moving.
A lot of people do this to warm up their car first thing in the morning.
Excessive idling can reduce the accuracy of when your car is due for servicing.
And when not serviced when due, sludge can start building up.

You may also want to read: 5 Main Causes Of Engine Vibration

How can one know their car is affected with this sludge?

Check for oil spatters where it should not be:
Any signs of oil or engine sludge on the outside of the vehicle or engine is a sure sign that you have an engine sludge problem inside.

Check the oil pan:
Remove the oil cap from your oil pan and peer inside. You may need a flashlight to be able to see clearly. The contents of your oil pan should appear clean. Although the walls and parts will be covered in oil, they should still appear metallic silver underneath. Any sign of engine sludge in the oil pan is an indicator of high levels of engine sludge in your motor.

It is important you follow the service interval as recommended by the manufacturer of your car brand. To ignore or extend the engine oil service interval exposes your engine to this risk.


Sludge can cause much damage to your engine and may require the engine to be replaced.
Save yourself the stress of this by maintaining a good engine oil servicing culture.

This is the reason why your engine is blinking. Read it Here. 


Emeka is a Contributor at Autojosh. A graduate of Electrical/Electronic Engineering with a B.Eng degree. Emeka is a car enthusiast who is interested in traveling, writing, movies and driving. He also loves drinking garri with cold water.