Motorcycle Engine Oil Color Chart: Explained

Understanding Your Motorcycle Engine Oil Color Chart

Do you want to ensure your motorcycle stays with you for a long time? Invest time and energy in its maintenance. This includes keeping a check on the engine oil’s color. But these colors can get a little confusing.

That’s where an engine oil color chart comes in. It helps you understand what it means to find engine oil in different colors on your oil dipstick

Read on to learn more about the motorcycle engine oil color chart and how you can maintain your motorcycle engine.

Here’s what we’ll cover:

Motorcycle Engine Oil Color Chart 101

Motor oil engine oil color chart: A chart of colors showing how Motorcycle Engine Oil changes color over time. 

The motorcycle engine oil color chart refers to a chart of colors you can use to identify whether your engine oil is safe to use or if it requires changing. 

In the engine oil color chart, you’ve got two groups — colors of regular engine oil degradation and special cases. You can see the same in the picture. 

On the left side, you have a new engine oil that is amber in color. Over time, it changes to black (dirty oil). The car oil color chart is also similar.

Let’s explore which colors are safe to use and which color suggests you should change your engine oil.

Which Engine Oil Colors are Safe for Your Motorcycle?

Safe colors refer to the desired colors of your engine oil under normal conditions. 


The fresh engine oil you pour into your motorcycle should have a clear amber color. This color may vary slightly between different brands, but it will be very clear. 

This is the color of fresh oil and is safe for your engine.


This is the engine oil color after you ride your motorcycle for 100-2000 miles. This is still perfectly safe for your engine.

Engine Oil: Change In Color

Engine oil changes its color over time. Let us see what each color indicates:


This is the first color in the life cycle of your engine oil, i.e., it’s the color of clean oil. Make sure your recently purchased engine oil is of this color.


After you ride your motorcycle for 100-2000 miles, the engine oil in your motorcycle starts to turn orange and then red. This shows your engine oil is cleaning the engine and degrading itself in the process. But there is nothing to worry about, and the engine oil is still safe for your motorcycle engine.

Dark Brown or Black

As your mileage crosses 3000 miles, your engine oil starts to turn from red to brown and then black. This change occurs due to a build-up of sludge due to dirt exposure

Dark brown or black is a bad engine oil color.

This color indicates that the engine oil has degraded to its limit and needs to be replaced. The collection of dust and dirt in the oil will also increase its viscosity.

This stage is not good news at all. It usually means that your engine oil has run its course, and it’s time to bid this dark oil farewell and get fresh engine oil.

Why Is My Engine Oil Milky or Creamy?

The above three colors are part of the typical engine oil lifecycle. However, there are certain engine oil colors you might only see in case of a specific problem with your engine. 

Let’s find out what those colors are and what they mean.

Milky and Creamy Brown

If you see a milky texture in your engine oil, a coolant has leaked into the system. This also leads to the production of white smoke from your motorcycle’s exhaust. 

If that happens, you must repair the leak and completely replace your engine oil.

Creamy with Foam

This reminds you of that perfect morning coffee, right?

Instead, this one isn’t pleasant. If you see cream-colored oil with foam on top, it’s contaminated by water and far from perfect. 

Moisture or water prevents oil from performing its lubrication duties. That’s why we recommend an engine oil change. 

Bad Engine Oil: Other Signs

Following are some other signs indicating that your motorcycle needs an oil change.

Noisy Engine

If you hear a knocking sound from your engine, your oil is not lubricating the metal parts well, and they are rubbing against each other. This is a clear indication you need to change your engine oil.

Oil Change Light

The oil change light turns on when it is time to change the engine oil.

Excessive Exhaust Smoke

If you see excessive smoke from the exhaust, you should check your engine oil besides other things. There is probably a leak or contamination.

Smell of Burning Oil

If you sense the smell of burning oil around your motorcycle, it may indicate an oil leak or a low oil level in general. Check your engine oil immediately and see if it needs to be refilled or replaced.

Final Thoughts: Understanding Your Motorcycle Engine Oil Color Chart

The motorcycle engine oil color chart is a great diagnostic tool for evaluating the engine oil’s condition. 

You can compare the engine oil on your dipstick with the motorcycle engine oil color chart to see whether your engine oil needs changing or if you can wait a bit more.

For more information on engine oils, explore our blog

Did we miss any sign of bad engine oil? Share your experiences with others by commenting below. 

4 thoughts on “Motorcycle Engine Oil Color Chart: Explained”

  1. Yea I have a bottle of oil it blue in color but there are no labels on it ta say what it is can you help me out?

    1. Thank you for asking Kenny. There aren’t that many engine oils blue in color. One specific which comes to my mind is Valvoline VR1 10W30 fully synthetic engine oil. It has sharp sapphire blue color due to a dye and zddp additive. It is a decent oil with mileage of 5k miles. But since the label on your bottle is missing I’m not sure as to what are its contents. It can be coolant as well since Blue coolants are much more common as opposed to blue colored engine oils that are a rare sight. Hope this helps. If you can share the image of bottle I may be able to answer with more certainty. Good day 🙂

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