White foam in the oil.


Old 12-19-09, 07:00 AM
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White foam in the oil.

Had my oil changed at the local oil lube place. I was way over due and there was white foam in the oil filler neck. The guy tried to sell me on their engine flush service. He called it sludge, but isn't white foam caused by water in the oil? Perhaps my head gasket has sprung a leak.
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Old 12-19-09, 07:44 AM
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I disagree... You may just have condensation that has contaminated the oil. If the car is not driven frequently or long enough for it to fully warm up and burn off the accumulated moisture in the crankcase and valve covers...you can get a sort of white scum around the filler.

More importantly...did he show you the oil that was drained out? Now it it was sort of a milky color..then you probably have some sort of leak.

Have you had to add water? Have you noticed any loss? If not..then even if you did have a leak it would be very very small, and would probably be burned off in normal usage..

Now that the oil is changed...check it occasionally for signs of contamination. Look at whats on the dipstick..not at the filler. If you aren't sure what water contamination looks like...put some oil and water (or antifreeze) in a jar and shake shake shake.

btw the brand and model of car is always useful.
Old 12-19-09, 08:16 AM
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A compression check could verify all this......
Old 12-19-09, 08:39 AM
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2003 Dodge Dakota 4.7 v8

It was probably about 10k miles since the oil change before that. I drive it everyday. I definitely have gotten into the truck and driven it before it has warmed up.

The foam he showed me was where the dipstick goes. It was just all stuck around the funnel part of it. There was a guy underneath draining the oil and he smeared some onto his finger and showed me the oil. No foam there, just really really dirty oil. That makes sense because it has been so long.

He also pulled the stick out of the radiator. He was trying to sell me on a flush. It appeared to be low. He did it quickly though so I don't know for sure. I just had him top it off. It's been awhile since I nosed around my engine compartment. Usually you can tell the level by looking at the overflow tank and I didn't check that when he was showing me everything.

I generally don't trust these guys. I try to avoid the oil lube places, but I have been putting off my oil change for so long and just wanted to get it done so I went there. The only thing I bit on was the oil they recommend for vehicles over 75k.
Old 12-19-09, 09:16 AM
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I have to go with Gunguy45 on this one, to start with. Lots of short trips and not allowing engine to run at operating temperature long enough to evaporate all that moisture can cause what your experiencing. Keep an eye on coolant return bottle, and if level goes down all the time, that's a different story, but for now, if it isn't, I'd find a reason to run that engine once in a while on a little longer trip. Short trips, fall in to that category of extreme conditions for your engine & oil, so needs to be changed more often, or run that moisture out of there.
Old 12-19-09, 09:44 AM
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I do run long trips. Right now I am commuting 4 days a week to work, 25 miles each way. There some short runs on the weekend for sure, but the majority of my mileage is to and from work.

I'll keep an eye on things and see how it goes.
Old 12-19-09, 10:43 AM
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Might warrant a look at the PCV valve too if it has one.
Old 12-20-09, 02:05 PM
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My Dodge Ram has the 4.7 as well and these motors are known for this. Especially in the colder weather. Really, just watch your coolant level and if that's not going down, then you probably just have condensation in the motor not being burn out. I will warn you though, the 4.7 is a good motor but if ill-maintained it's a ticking time bomb. The 4.7's really appreciate their oil changes. Also, the guys at the oil changing places aren't always trying to screw you. Vehicles do really need their maintenance including oil changes, oil flushes, trans flushes, power steering flushes, radiator flushes, pcv valves, and their differentials and t-case fluids changed. It may add up, but that's the luxury of owning and driving a vehicle.
Old 12-20-09, 02:29 PM
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As suggested above, I would check the PCV valve and change the oil more often! IMHO 10,000 miles is about 7,000 over.....
Old 12-20-09, 02:54 PM
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There is a little trick you can use to detect water or anti-freeze in your oil.
After the engine is good and hot pull the dipstick and drip the oil from it onto the exhaust manifold.
If the drip curls and smokes it is probably ok but if it sputters and spits it would be water/anti-freeze boiling off.

If you do this test after many short trips in cold weather it could give you a false reading.
If it sputters after a long trip you may have a problem.

Last edited by GregH; 12-20-09 at 03:10 PM.
Old 12-20-09, 03:05 PM
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Good one Greg H


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