Metal Shavings in Oil (Causes and Solutions)

The presence of metal shavings in oil is one of the issues that make all car owners worried. Whenever you observe metal shavings in oil during your scheduled maintenance, you must do something about it immediately.

Let’s discuss why you see metal shavings in oil and see the issues that can result from it. We will also check the procedure we need to take to ensure our vehicles operate as they should.

For appropriate lubrication of the engine, oil is vital to keep the components of your car working well. The absence of lubrication would result in metal-to-metal contact, which reduces the lifespan of your vehicle.

At times, in the absence of lubrication, the piston’s speed can cause some debris to fall out from the internal components. In some cases, this is nothing to worry about since the filter would catch them and can be taken out during maintenance.

Nevertheless, if many shavings are in the oil, it shows that a metal part is chipping away inside.

Also Read: How Often to Change Fuel Filter? (Everything to Know)

Reasons Why There Are Metal Shavings in Oil?

Metal Shavings in Oil

Let’s study the reasons for metal shavings in the oil. Studying why this happens will help you understand what led to the problem or make you aware of an error made; also, you will be enlightened on what to do to avoid issues like this from coming up subsequently.

So, let’s investigate why you have metal shavings in your oil.

1. Rare Oil Change

One primary reason this occurs is when an oil change is hardly done. Not changing the oil can ruin your engine’s life. The more you ignore replacing your oil, the higher the wear and tear in the engine.

Since oil serves as an important lubricant, which is important for the life of your engine and the engine itself if there aren’t enough lubricants as supposed, the internal part of the engine would start to wear down.

The friction inside would increase, and the parts work roughly, resulting in metal shavings. As the engine continues to operate, more damage will occur inside the engine’s internal components.

Changing the oil frequently would save the life of the vehicle’s engine. The earlier you change the oil, the better for you. That is how your engine would keep strong, and you’ll get more miles from it in the absence of metal shavings.

2. Worn-Out Rod Bearings

The next reason that might lead to metal shavings is when the rod bearings are worn-out. The rod bearings are placed between the rod and crankshaft. They’re majorly enclosed by the rod.

At times, the rod bearings could start wearing off if the manufacturer rarely changes the oil or uses low-quality rod bearings.

Some models of vehicles such as the E92 M3 and BMW M5 E60 are more likely to develop this problem. And they have relatively low miles.

You must hold the rod bearings from wearing off if they’re still in good shape because the more the bearing wears, the more it loses balance, which will cause the engine to fail in most scenarios. And I’m sure you do not want this to happen, so be mindful of metal shavings in your oil.

3. Worn-Out Piston Rings

Another reason why metal shavings are present in your oil is due to worn-out pistons rings. This means the piston rings can break, especially on engines with high mileage.

The more miles and age of the engine, the chances the rings will get stuck inside the piston ring and rub against each other, which would break down and cause shavings in the oil.

This simply implies that you might be losing compression. This shows that you need to be careful of more significant pieces that might seem part of the ring-like component.

You might also lose the compression and performance whenever something like this happens. So, when you notice there are metal shavings in the oil, do not ignore them.

4. EngineĀ  Damage

The next cause is engine damage. As you know, the internal part can be damaged, for example, the piston can get broken, or any other components can get faulty, thereby damaging the engine and leading to wear and tear.

This mostly occurs when your engine is overheated and when your engines are running for their money, which means that the engine is pushed hard instead of being treated nicely.

So, this often occurs when there’s an increase in the wear and tear of the internal components, resulting in metal shavings in the oil.

The engine damage is the last cause of metal shavings in your oils.

Also Read: Oil Leak After Oil Change (Causes & Solutions)

Different Types of Metal Shavings in Oil

Metal Shavings in Oil

1. Iron Shavings

There are different types of metal shavings. One is iron shaving, and this is if the oil shavings are iron. When this happens, it means a problem with the rotating components of the engine. The crankshaft and camshaft are made of iron.

In addition, the valve train components are constructed of iron. Regardless, you need to attend to this immediately because it’s a serious problem.

2. Bronze, Copper, or Brass Shavings

The presence of brass, copper, and bronze are unique, and they are also different from the others. When you observe metal shavings with colors in the oil, it might result from worn-out bushings.

It might also be a result of a faulty bearing inside your engine. Even if these parts are not big, they can pose a serious problem for the engine and cause failure.

3. Molybdenum or Chromium Shavings

Silvery gray shavings can look like aluminum. However, the pistons are made from molybdenum and chromium. If you observe these shavings, it means that there’s a problem with the pistons. It might also happen that there’s breakage of piston rings.

4. Aluminum Shavings

The shavings happen due to wear and tear on the engine surface. Various components could lead to aluminum Shavings.

It might also be overhead camshaft bearings, Or it might be the aluminum cover.

What Problems are Caused by Metal Shavings in Oil?

1. Rough Idle

If your vehicle is idle, it is expected to be smooth. Nevertheless, shaking or vibration when it’s idle could signal that you have metal shavings in your oil.

The metal components might start to rub against each other if the engine components lack sufficient lubrication. As time goes on, the metal pieces fall and find their way to the oil. When you experience rough idling, it is a symptom of your engine not functioning properly.

2. Engine Noises

If your engine lacks lubrication, you might probably experience noises. Since the oil is not moving in the engine, you might probably begin to hear ticking sounds.

In some situations, you’ll hear the noise most of the time. And when you do not hear the noise, you would hear a ticking sound when you start your vehicle.

3. Engine Knock

One common symptom of vehicle failure is an engine knock. This could be caused by neglecting regular filter and oil replacement.

The more you let contaminants build up in your oil, the higher the stress of the internal components. Whenever you experience an engine knock, it should be addressed immediately and taken seriously before your vehicle fails.

4. Poor Acceleration

Poor performance is also an indication that there’s something wrong with your engine. When stepping on the accelerator pedal, take notice if there’s a response or not.

Reduced engine power indicates that the vehicle is not functioning properly. This might be a result of extra stress coming from the contaminated oil.

5. Warning Lights On your Dashboard

It is also possible for you to notice the oil pressure warning indicator or the check engine light. For some cars, you’ll see the light which reminds you to replace your oil or Service your Engine on your dashboard.

In addition, you might also see some warnings that signify that your vehicle is having some problems. When these indicators come on, it is a sign for you to have your vehicle checked immediately.

Also Read: Oil Smells Like Gas (Causes & Solutions)

Will an Oil Filter Catch Metal Shavings in Oil?

Metal Shavings in Oil

Although the oil filter is very good at holding a huge percentage of contaminants, generally, the oil filter would hold several metal shavings from entering the engine. Nevertheless, there are a lot of metallic particles that are too small for the filter to hold.

And because of this, the tiny particles pass through the bearings of the engine and cause grinding of sorts along the process. It can wear off the bearing as time goes on, especially if the oil is not replaced as recommended.

When you have a problem with the engine, inspecting the oil filter might be of help. In these scenarios, many mechanics would carefully cut out a small part of the filter’s canister to show the element’s internal part.

This element can now be examined for any metal shavings and fragments, which provides hints to the overall health of the wear surfaces and engine bearings.

How to Fix Metal Shavings in Oil

If you find a small portion of metal shavings in the oil, this might not be a serious issue, though, over time, wear and tear would happen. However, if there are a lot of them, and you notice them after replacing your oil, your engine might be at risk.

Most times, repairing problems related to engines is not easy and cheap. Nevertheless, the more you prolong it, the more it becomes expensive. Something as simple as replacing the oil might escalate into a full engine replacement.

So, take your vehicle to a mechanic for a complete examination. They would be able to point out the type of issue you have and if you can fix it. In some situations, you might be able to change the parts, while some damage might require rebuilding the engine.

Engine rebuilds are quite expensive. You might pay $2,000 or even more, depending on the type of vehicle you own. Nevertheless, rebuilding comes with the changing of new components in the vehicle. The following are the steps that might be used in carrying out a rebuild:

  1. Remove the cover of the engine, hardware, and the valves
  2. Remove and repair the rings and pistons
  3. Add new seals and gaskets
  4. Address any other problem

Rebuilding a small and compact vehicle should not take long. But rebuilding an SUV with a big V8 engine or a pickup might take longer. However, regular changes of oil and proper maintenance of the engine would prevent you from having to rebuild.

What to Do When You Have Metal Shavings in Oil

If you notice metal shavings in your oil, first visit your mechanic with the vehicle. They would tell you the reason and also provide possible remedies.

5 procedures to Remove Metal Shavings From Your Engine Oil

The following steps would help you to remove metal shavings from your oil.

1. Replace the Oil

At times, changing the oil would help in removing the metal shavings in the oil.

2. Change the Oil Filter

Changing a bad filter can also help in getting rid of many metal shavings.

3. Repair Parts

If the problem is serious, a part of the engine can be fixed to stop the metal shavings from coming up. And this can be done by your mechanic.

4. Rebuild Engine

In most severe cases, rebuilding the entire engine might be the best option.

5. Replace Engine

In some situations, rebuilding might not work. Sometimes, getting a new engine is the smartest move for your vehicle. Even though purchasing a new car is better.

Metal Shavings in Oil

Cost to Fix Metal Shavings in Oil?

Let us talk about the amount involved in repairing this issue related to metal shavings in motor oils. And this depends greatly on the size of the engine.

This means that the higher the damage, the higher the repair cost.

Getting a new rod bearing might cost you about $1200-$1600, which is the cheapest.

Every other thing would require you to disassemble the engine and machine work completely, which could be expensive. You might have to pay from $2500 to $5000. Getting a used engine would be smart since the fixing cost is high.

You can make use of used engines at the cost of $3000. Usually, not all engines are costly. So, know the cost of purchase and installation of a used engine.

The bill might be around $4000 or more. I recommend you go for a used engine with low miles instead of rebuilding a high-mile engine.

Also Read: Oil Filter Housing (Everything To Know)

Frequently Asked Questions – Metal Shavings in Oil

Does metal shavings in oil mean your motor is gone?

Metal shavings in the engine mean accelerated wear of any rotating surface or bearings. As the metals wear out of these components, it’s deposited in the oil before maintenance takes place.

Can you save an engine with metal shavings?

Engine oil is for lubricating the moving components of your engine to ensure a smooth operation. If the oil is contaminated with debris like metal shavings, it will not be able to function properly. Reduced performance is one of the minor things that can occur, and it can cause more harm to your engine.

Will oil filter catch metal shavings?

The metal shavings are produced in different sizes, and they are usually very small. They are soo small that the oil filter can’t get a hold of them. These metal particles are tiny microns that can even pass through a paper filter. The oil filter is designed to hold bigger particles like the sludge.

What causes metal shavings?

The most popular reason for metal shavings is bad main bearings or rod bearings. If it is metal or aluminum, it might be either from the worn camshafts, pistons, or a damaged oil pump.

Conclusion – Metal Shavings in Oil

Don’t ignore metal shavings in your motor oil. It’s an indication of other issues on the internal engine components that might turn to severe damage if not addressed on time and properly.

Irrespective of the information and guidelines you might have gathered on how to repair metal shavings yourself, we suggest you visit a mechanic for proper inspection. You might regret it when consequences come up as a result of you doing it yourself.

In any situation, you must take preventive measures. Perform regular maintenance for a tune-up, oil change, and other services to prevent oil contaminations and the formation of engine sludge.

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