What Happens When Water Mixes With Oil In Engine (Symptoms & Fix)

Water can get into your engine oil in various ways, which, if left unchecked, can cause bigger issues.

According to Machinery Lubrication, “Water is a generator of other contaminants in the oil such as waxes, suspensions, carbon and oxide insoluble and even micro-organisms.”

Luckily, there are ways to prevent this from happening again. And if you don’t know how to check for water in your engine oil, it can be hard to detect.

In this article, we will provide you with a step-by-step guide on checking if your engine oil is full of water. We take a clear and precise look at what steps you should take if it is.

How Does Water Affect Engine Oil?

Water Mixes With Oil In Engine

Water can cause engines to lose their lubrication when it enters the crankcase oil. When the water mixes with the oil, it forms a sludge that clogs the engine’s parts and prevents proper functioning.

This process can result in premature wear, excessive friction, and possibly catastrophic damage to your vehicle. Washing your car with the windows rolled down can allow water to enter your engine and mix the engine oil.

Synthetic lubricants are typically made from a blend of synthetic base oils and additives. However, as they age, many of these additives break down and become corrosive.

In the presence of water, the oxidation process can cause premature aging of the oil. Also, certain types of synthetic oils react with water and break down easily in a wet environment.

You can’t just make sure your oil doesn’t get damaged by moisture contamination. You also need to ensure that the additives in the oil remain stable and don’t cause any harm.

The additives, such as anti-wear (AW) and extreme-pressure (EP) additives, and phenolic antioxidants, are easily destroyed by water. It causes decreased additive mortality and the formation of acidic byproducts.

What Happens When Water Mixes With Oil In Engine

How Does Water Get Into Engine Oil?

The water is distributed throughout the vehicle in a variety of ways. It comes through the air intake system, condensation on a cold surface, and combustion byproducts. The moisture produced from your engine breathing is evident when it is not being used.

How Does Water Get Into Engine Oil

The second most common water-related issue is a coolant leak. This scenario is likely to result from a bad gasket or engine crack, both of which are not easy fixes.

Engine performance issues will likely occur if this scenario goes unchecked for too long. Consult your mechanic when in doubt.

Motor oil is required to keep your engine running at optimal performance. When water gets into the motor oil, the mixture will be denatured. Thus, the oil’s cooling properties will no longer be effective.

This can fatally harm your car engine, even if you’re not overheating.

Methods Of Checking Water In Engine Oil

Engine oils are designed to withstand a certain amount of contamination from condensation. However, there are times when a significant amount of water may have entered the oil.

Water In Engine Oil dipstick

Oil leaks can cause major contamination and reduce the oil’s effectiveness in lubricating the engine’s moving parts. If this is the case, you should fix it as soon as possible!

  • Method 1– Suppose you see bubbles on the dipstick, a brownish residue, or milky-brown oil with a thick consistency. In that case, it could mean that water has seeped into the engine. Make sure to replace your engine oil as soon as possible.
  • Method 2– Check for white smoke coming from your car’s tailpipe if you are experiencing engine problems. White smoke is an indication of coolant flowing through the oil to maintain engine temperature.
  • Method 3– With the engine off, turn the crankcase drain plug counterclockwise with a wrench. Allow the oil to drain into a separate container.

Then, wipe it clean with a rag before reassembling the vehicle.

Water In Engine Oil: How To Clean

Water In Engine Oil: How To Clean

Water ingression happens after a sudden seal failure; the pump motor or gearbox is driven in a corrosive environment.

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Common causes of water ingress are atmospheric humidity levels and water jet washing. However, many other causes can put your engine’s seals at risk of failure.

Here are the following technologies you can use to separate water in your engine oil.

Drain Water by Opening Valve

Use a special antifreeze solution on the engine blocks: This is a quick, low-cost, and effective way to eliminate water in engine oil. Mix 2 to 4 parts water to 1 part antifreeze solution. You can use any commercially available antifreeze solution.

Shake it to mix well and store it in a plastic bottle. Let it stay in a cool environment (20 to 40°C) for 4 hours. Shake it to mix well. Store it in a refrigerator. Shake the water out of the bottle before use.

You can also use a new sump pump motor or replace the motor. If your sump pump motor is showing signs of age, its bearings, seals, or other parts are damaged, there are chances of the water seeping into the oil, forming puddles on the ground or the engine blocks. This method will check the humidity level of the area before moving on.

Siphon Out the Water with a Hand Pump

Drain the water by opening the valve if the oil pump is not functioning properly. Open valve also causes direct contact with hot oil; this is the best way to free your engine oil from water. Install Oil Lube Seal on other affected oil sump plugs so that there is no contact with hot oil when you drain the oil.

A handheld siphon or siphon canister can separate water from your oil. You can use a personal or portable siphon to get the water out of your oil. Engine oil for any Ford engine could require a vacuum seal of 40:1.

The procedure is simple and requires you to start with clean oil in the dipstick then add a small amount of oil to your hand. Your hand goes into the dipstick housing then you slowly start sucking the water out with your hand. If you run out of time or your hand gets tired, you can also use a siphon transfer pump.

Using a Pressure Pump

There are two parts to the process. First, you must thoroughly degrease your engine oil to remove water. This is typically done by hand-pulling apart the life-saving machine hose. Remove as much water from the engine oil as possible with a mild detergent like Tide detergent or WD40.

Next, use the following process to remove all the water from the oil. First, clean a disposable funnel with non-toxic soap, and spray a small amount of isopropyl alcohol in the funnel. In a spray bottle, add one capful of 100% methylene chloride.

Shake well to mix. Now, add the fresh engine oil into the funnel, and give it a gentle swirl around the funnel to coat the entire oil. Gently press the oil into the funnel while the funnel is tilted downward.

Water-Absorbent Sock

A water-absorbent sock, like many others, is applied to the engine to absorb water. To use this method, find the problem areas on the engine (engine oil cooler, injector nozzle, coolant temperature sensor, fuel injector, and so on). Then apply the sock to those areas.

However, you will have to remove the spray from the pump motor, and the engine should be turned off and not started up immediately to avoid any additional stress on the seals.

The water-absorbing sock’s effectiveness decreases if it stays wet for a long time. An air bubble can form in the sock, reducing the effectiveness of the sock. To prevent this, slowly remove the sock from the engine.

Gravity Filtration

Gravity Filtration

Packaged oils are designed to be dispersed in a variety of temperature ranges. The temperature range will dictate the time it takes for oil and water to separate.

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Additives can also have a significant impact on the speed at which water separates from the oil. In its simplest form, basic systems are designed to allow water to flow into the tank.

When the water reaches a certain level, it opens the drain valve and allows the excess to drain out. Filtration is typically done when the system is first installed or whenever there has been a malfunction.

Always start by lowering the saturation point and then run the system at a lower speed. This method ensures that as much of the water as possible will exist in the free state.

A separate settling tank may be employed in large-volume systems. This separation allows the oil to cool and emulsion before water removal.

Centrifugal Separation

Centrifugal SeparationThe centrifuge principle is to create a low-pressure area, lift a liquid column, and cause it to spin. This movement separates the oil’s heavier elements by spinning the oil to develop a high G-force. In this way, centrifugal force separates the oil from lighter elements such as water and gas.

The process of separating liquids in a centrifuge – like gravity separation – is called coalescence. We can remove water to the extent that it exists in such states as emulsified or free forms. It only depends on the temperature.

You’ll need to know the temperature of the oil if you want to determine how much water will be removed.

Evaporative Dehydration Through Heating

A self-cleaning tank is a great idea for cases where it is otherwise difficult to remove the water completely.

Tanks that rely on heating elements to help with water removal are perfect for high-temperature situations. With our tanks, you’ll be able to rise above the saturation point without an issue.

To maintain its health, it is often best to briefly heat the oil to drive off moisture. However, allowing the water in the oil to remain can cause problems such as corrosion.

Engine oil must keep the power density of such elements below 5W/in2. It particularly works when the system is static and not in use.

The use of water for cooling or heating is efficient. Still, the downside is that it can introduce other chemicals into the process. Water-based heat exchangers can be extremely effective, but they require more maintenance and are less efficient than other techniques.

Absorption Filtering

If you’re planning to use filters in your oil change routine, make sure they’re the right ones. For example, if your filter is designed for diesel engines, it’s likely not appropriate for a machine that uses gasoline.

The water filter makes a difference in the engine. With a high-performance filter for emulsified and free water and solids, it’s time to switch your fuel oil!

They work best when fitted to a portable filter cart for minor water ingression problems. With its ability to remove solids, absorption removal is a cost-effective solution for small systems that require polishing.

This process is so popular because of its relatively low cost and its ability to trap solids.

Vacuum Dehydration

The vacuum dehydration process is a way to remove water from a liquid at low pressure. Using the pressure differential between two chambers, heat transfers from the inside to the outer chamber and vaporizes the water.

We can collect and reuse vapors from the process in several ways. These vapors include fuel cells or steam. This process is so efficient that it requires a vacuum pressure of 25″ to 28″ of mercury, which is more than enough for water to boil at 120°F to 130°F.

When you heat the oil up to 150°F or 160°F, it will transform into vaporized water without damaging the oil. This process helps prevent thermal and oxidative stress on the engine oil.

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Air Stripping Dehydration

Dehydration by air stripping is an alternative technology that removes water and gaseous contaminants in the oil. It can remove free and emulsified water, common during vacuum dehydration, to less than 100 ppm.

This technology has many benefits over vacuum dehydration, including lower production costs and better product quality.

There is a lot of technology in this new air stripping technology. It is the most effective way to remove hydrocarbons from oil today. As a result, they will extract more pollutants in less time and without destroying or depleting important natural resources in the future.

Other applications, such as water treatment and cooling systems, are beneficial for this process. The price tag is a drawback, but this technology is cost-effective.

It has fewer moving parts, and it can remove other gaseous impurities as well as dissolved water. Air stripping technology is an alternative to vacuum dehydration that maintains a lower price tag.

Frequently Asked Question (FAQs)

What to do with oil that has water in it?

You can remove the water from your engine oil and recycle it with the help of a couple of different methods. Distillation and absorption are the two primary ways you can accomplish this.

Distillation is the most common way the oil is separated from the water, while absorption is when an absorbent material like carbon or clay separates oil from water.

What happens when an Antifreeze mixes with oil?

Antifreeze mixing with motor oil can result in engine failure. If you notice any of the above symptoms, it’s time to take your car into the shop for a tune-up or other repairs.

Can I drive my car with water in the oil?

A small amount of water in your engine is harmless – it’ll boil off and vent out as the machine operates. A small amount of water will similarly evacuate as the car moves.

Driving with water in your oil is detrimental to your engine, as it causes heat and friction. The more you go with water in the oil, the more likely you will cause premature wear on engine internals and engine failure.

How can you tell if you have water in your oil?

If you notice a milky oil with a thick consistency, dirty oil, or air bubbles on the dipstick, it could mean your engine is at risk of damage from water in your engine oil.

Will engine oil evaporate water?

The oil gets hotter as you run it, and as a result, water evaporates from the top of the engine. If your engine exhaust pipe is hot enough to create steam, then your engine is hot enough. But too much water may ruin your engine.

Keep Your Engine Oil Water-Free

The presence of water in your engine oil is an indication of a serious problem. It causes fatal damage to your engine.

Whether you think you’ve got water in your engine oil or not, it’s important to know how it can get there. Water can enter your engine oil through your cooling system, radiator, combustion chamber, and even the air intake system.

Keeping your engine oil water-free will help you avoid costly repairs and breakdowns. As most manufacturers recommend, it’s a good idea to change your engine oil every 5,000 ~ 7,000 miles or six months. You’ve heard it before: Regularly changing your oil will ensure that your car lasts for years and years.

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