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How to Determine the Condition of Your ATV/UTV by the Oil Color

The oil that you put into your ATV is the lifeblood of a well-working engine, which points directly to the importance of taking good care of it. A lot of riders believe that the oil can also tell you a lot about the condition of your ATV or UTV simply by its color. Oil travels all around the moving parts of the engine, picking up any debris and touching every single part that you rely on to ride the ATV. This leads people to believe that dark oil is bad.

It may seem to be common sense that black motor oil means you should change it, it seems dirty. The truth is, oil naturally turns black over time as it’s exposed to high levels of heat, but still works well enough to lubricate the engine safely. The oil also traps a lot of contaminants in the engine, so it turns black because it’s doing its job. What you really need to be looking for is in the texture of the oil, rather than the color. Gritty oil means it needs replaced as soon as you can.

oil change in atv

Oil Color

Oil goes into your machine looking brilliantly golden. A lot of people think that when their oil stays golden, it means that the engine is incredibly clean. Engines aren’t a clean object at all, and while some are cleaner than others, none of them are ‘clean’.

Oil runs through your ATV or UTV and picks up the contaminants that the engine produces, which slowly turns the oil black over time. If you’ve been driving your ATV or UTV for a few hundred miles and the oil is still golden, that means it isn’t doing its job and you should look into changing the oil and the filter.

Surprisingly, the oil color is not a good test to determine the condition of your ATV. You can check the oil shortly after a change, and if it’s completely black after a short period of time, then you may be looking at a dirty engine.

It’s more important to look at the texture of the oil. As the oil runs through and cleans the engine with the various detergents it carries, it will pick up soot and grime. If your oil is gritty, then you’ll need to do an oil change as that grit can get in between moving parts and cause poor performance.

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