How To Fix Water In Engine Oil? Symptoms And Causes

Although water is necessary for every life, it is unsuitable for our motors. Any engine will be damaged if something goes wrong. Among many reasons, water in engine oil is one of the big problems that every driver can face. Water in motor oil is a valid concern. It can lead to catastrophic failure. A significant hazard of internal combustion engines is water ingress into the oil.

Identifying the cause of water intrusion is essential to determining the best course of action for repair. This guide will examine the causes, symptoms, and solutions.

Fix Water In Engine Oil

What Happens If Water Enters Into The Engine Oil?

In an engine, if water mixes with the oil, it can cause problems, even a tiny amount. In general, any amount of water in your oil could be milky. So, this texture won’t lubricate your engine well and is very harmful. Engine runs with milky oil can cause heat and friction. Besides this, it can quickly wear out your engine.

Suddenly, if you notice milky engine oil, it means some water is in your oil. After that, it goes into the oil pan. Because of this, your engine block is cracked. Water comes to the engine from a water pump, cracked cylinder wall, or head gasket leak. If you see the same thing, you should find out where the water comes from.

Signs of Water in Engine Oil

Engine oil mixed with water can cause many problems. For example, the basic stock of the oil will be affected, and foaming, oxidation, and viscosity will be increased. Water and motor oil can cause extensive damage and affect each other. Let’s know the water in engine oil symptoms below:

Excessive Smoke:

Oil-containing water mixes with fuel and emits smoke while the engine is running, causing smoke.

Rust and Corrosion:

Water causes corrosion and rust and, as a result, accelerates wear and tear. Ventilation inevitably has this effect.

Transfer in Viscosity:

Viscosity changes caused by water can cause the following problems:

  • Scalding by hydrogen and a weak constitution.
  • Failure because of lack of film strength
  • Cavitation in a vapor state

Oil Pollution:

Water also produces other oil pollutants. Such materials include waxes, insoluble carbon, suspensions, oxides, and microorganisms.

Leaking Oil:

Oil leaks can also be caused by water in engine oil. Because of leaking oil, the engine’s crankcase system will fail. Also, because of water, your rubber washers and seals will be destroyed.


Water pollution can cause overheating because it weakens or prevents lubrication. As a result, metal surfaces rub and generate frictional heat.

Poor Engine Performance:

Due to water in engine oil, it can reduce lubrication and increase metal-to-metal contact. As A Result, an engine can suffer poor performance due to difficulty starting or lack of power.

Low Oil Pressure Gauge Reading:

The presence of water will affect the engine’s ability to maintain average operating temperatures and proper lubrication levels. Thus, an engine gauge will show a pressure drop when too much water is in the oil dipstick. Therefore, the crankcase system will not function properly for a more extended period.

As you can see, these are the ways that water can affect an engine. So, if you don’t fix the problem, it can worsen and eventually lead to engine failure. However, let’s know the causes of water in engine oil below:

Water In engine oil Causes

There are a few reasons for water in engine oil. Have a look at each:

Coolant Leak:

The cooling fluid is always bad news for metal parts because it’s mostly water. If coolant leaks out of the cooling system, it will likely enter the engine and mix with the oil.

A non-watertight seal is the culprit that allows engine coolant to enter the oil sump. Cylinder head gaskets tend to do this, although other seals can also have this problem. More seriously, a waterproof part can develop a severe problem that compromises its integrity.


Since the internal combustion engine runs for long periods, it generates heat and moisture. These parts can condense on internal components and fluids such as oil and coolant. Over time, this buildup can accumulate enough moisture and form an emulsion with the engine oil. Resulting it affects lubricating properties, causing water ingress.

Worn Piston Rings:

Due to worn piston rings, your car will begin to use more oil, often producing smoke from the exhaust. Additionally, when you accelerate, your engine may overheat and suffer performance problems.

Furthermore, when the piston rings are misaligned, they put extra pressure on the crankcase. Instead, the engine seals are damaged, causing oil and coolant leaks.

Damaged Seal:

A damaged seal is another reason which can cause water to enter the oil sump. Again, you can see milky and foamy oil when you check the dipstick.

Human Error:

Sometimes, you can accidentally pour water instead of engine oil when filling the oil reservoir. On the upside, you can notice the symptoms of water in engine oil.

Damage to The Oil Crankcase:

Though engine internal parts have good protection from external factors, it’s challenging to protect them from the effects of water. Water enters the car’s engine crankcase and lubrication system.

Low-Quality Oil:

Many drivers have the bad habit of buying low-quality engine oil to save money. Due to improper storage, these oils not only don’t meet the requirements but also contain moisture. High-quality, expensive oils do not have moisture particles.

A Damaged Cylinder Head Gasket:

This problem often appears in older cars as the surface of the cylinder head becomes deformed due to overheating. We should also consider an incorrect installation, for example, after a repair, and the gasket’s poor quality.

How To Fix Water In Engine Oil

You can remove water from oil by some methods. These methods are:

Using a Coalescer

By using this coalescer filter, you can remove oil in engine oil. It works by dropping droplets of water together to form a water pool. This type of pool removes moisture from the oil and purifies it at the end of the process. Filters of this type work best with low-viscosity fluids. Thus, efficiency reduces as viscosity increases.

A coalescer doesn’t come with hard-handling capabilities. Therefore, only small amounts of solids are essential for filter clogging. It’s because make sure the lube oil is free of substances that could clog the filter.

Using a Centrifuge

Another standard method of removal is centrifugal force. Usually, this method forces two liquids of different concentrations to separate. Since oil and water have different densities, you can separate them by this force. Once the oil is purified, it returns to operation. On the contrary, the water will remain in a tank for processes.

Mainly, this method is one of the best methods that you can apply to remove water from engine oil. Moreover, this method is better than the first because it works with solid contaminants. Hence, even with solid particles, it can work without problems. In addition to these methods, you can also mix an additive to remove water from the engine oil.

Mixing Additive

Using an alcohol-based dispersant can also absorb water from engine oil. Actually, this is an oil tank additive, and it can soak up water. Moreover, it provides a simple and easy process. In general, you need to pour this additive into this tank and wait for the result. Undoubtedly, you can safely use it and get the best result.

Still, having an automotive expert check your engine before using it is best. This way, you can be sure your engine will not suffer any additional damage.

Preventative Measures

You should always keep your oil clean to avoid any water contamination. That’s why you must regularly check your car for leakage signs or other changes. Even so, you must use a quality oil filter when changing the oil.

Flushing Your System

Removing all pollutants before refilling with new, clean oil is necessary. Draining all existing oil before refilling with fresh fluid is essential.

Check: How To Flush Oil Cooler?

FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions):

Q. How much water in the engine oil is the bed?

As we know, water can contaminate engine oil. They are insignificant if we talk only about the droplets formed during condensation. However, it can worsen when you accidentally get enough water into your oil port.

A small amount of water in engine oil will be acceptable. Nevertheless, the oil will be contaminated if water exceeds the maximum point. Notably, we also can’t say precisely how much water in oil is bad. But if you see smoky crude, it won’t suit your engine.

Q. How to get coolant out of engine oil?

To get coolant out of your engine oil, you will need:

  • 2 ounces dishwasher detergent or vinegar
  • One gallon of clean and hot water

Now mix the detergent with water and fill the cooling system to the highest possible point with your mixture. Start the engine of the vehicle and let it run for 5 minutes. After that, turn off the engine and drain the whole cooling system.

Do these steps again with a clean mixture until all the coolant removes the oil. If you have done so, now fill your engine with clean water and start your engine. After running for 5 minutes, shut off the engine and allow the cooling system to drain. Finally, fill the cooling system with a 50/50 coolant and clean water mixture.

Q. What should I do when I accidentally pour water into the engine oil?

Don’t run the engine; wait a few hours, and the oil will float to the top of the water. Open the drain plug and then drain the oil. First, water will come out, then oil. After draining the oil sump, replace the plug and refill the oil. Ultimately, if you love your car, do a complete drain, oil, and filter change.

Final Thought

On the other hand, don’t panic if there is water in engine oil. After noticing any reason or symptom, it’s best not to start the engine and dry the moisture completely. By additionally flushing the cooling system and engine, you can reduce damage to the internal combustion engine. And so that there are no problems, you should carefully avoid water blockages and monitor the oil condition and the crankcase.

Finally, we hope if you face this problem, you can catch the cause and immediately fix it. Remember to arrive on time if you notice any single issue. It’s because if you fix the problem as soon as possible, you can save money.


I am Engr. Z Eusuf Lubricant Specialist, Mechanical Engineer & has been working with engine lubricants for a long time and knows what makes them work best. I can help you find the right oil for your needs, and I have tips on how to keep your engine running at its best.