Check the oil in your car

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Car Service Advice | Guide to Checking Your Car Engine Oil | AA

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How to Check Your Vehicle’s Oil Level

About Business Support Contact. Car maintenance. Routine car maintenance. Need motoring advice? Call Print Print. Why should I service my car? Watch the video Why should I service my car? Slowly pull the dipstick out, holding a paper towel around the port as you pull, to wipe the oil off and keep it from flipping up and out. You shouldn't have to pull very hard or twist on most oil dipsticks, but you might have to use a little bit of strength to get it to come free.

Once you've got the cap off, it should pull free quite easily.

How To Check Dipstick & Engine Oil - EASY

Don't force it. Examine the color and quality of the oil. The color and the consistency of engine oil is indicative of its age, and possibly of other engine efficiency issues that you might need to address.

As soon as you remove the dipstick, you can get a good sense of the quality of the oil in your engine. Engine oil that's in good condition should look slightly yellow-greenish on the rag, and shouldn't be super-dark. Wipe the oil off the end of the dipstick and examine it on the rag. Oil will change in color from golden or amber colored to brown and black as more and more particulate gets in the oil from the engine. Metal filings and particulate will slowly scrape the cylinders of your engine over time, which is why the oil needs to be changed according to the manufacturer's recommended service interval check your owner's manual or service booklet to find your vehicle's service interval.

Look at the color, specifically. Does it look brackish, or chunky? Does it look black or dark? If so, it's likely a sign that your oil needs changed. Take the car in to have it serviced, or change the oil yourself.

Auto Repair For Dummies, 2nd Edition

Dry off the dipstick and dip it once more into the hole. The first time you pull the dipstick out, you can't learn much about the amount of oil, since the dipstick will have oil stuck on it at many different points. Once you pull out the dipstick and examine the color, wipe off the end and reinsert it into the hole, then pull it back out immediately to get a good reading on the amount.

Check the amount of oil. There should be two small dots on the end of most dipsticks, and one corresponds to the maximum fill line in the oil pan and the other refers to the minimum. The minimum dot should be close to the tip, and the maximum should be about an inch or so up from that on the dipstick. In a properly filled car that's cool, the line should be just about halfway between the two points.

In general, the "minimum" marker should be close to the very dip of the dipstick. If the line of oil on the dipstick is between the tip and that mark, you need to add oil to the car. The oil should never be higher than the maximum fill point, though it will be close to that point when the oil is hot. If it is, you may need to drain some oil from your car. Part 3 of Check your user manual. Before you try to add oil, you need to find out what kind of oil your car requires. It's important to always check, because the types vary, even from one model and season to another. It's generally unwise to mix different grades of oil, so check carefully with the manual or your local mechanic before you add oil to the car.

Alternatively, you can also talk with the staff at most auto supply stores to figure out what kind of oil you need to put in your car. As long as you know the make and the model, they should be able to look it up and tell you, or you can look it up yourself in the manual in the oil section. Locate the oil fill cap located on top of your engine. These caps are typically well marked with the words "Oil Fill" and sometimes with the grade of engine oil your vehicle uses. If you see 5w30, for example, written on the cap, you'll know what kind of oil you need to add.

Remove the cap, wipe it off with a paper towel or the rag you've been using, and insert a clean funnel. You need to use a funnel to add engine oil, or you'll risk spilling it all over the engine block, which will burn off and create a terrible smell, and possibly worse problems.

Add the appropriate oil in small increments. It's important to allow time for the additional oil to drain down into the oil pan. It should fill it up the funnel suddenly and then glug down slowly.

How to Check Your Car's Engine Oil

Avoid overfilling the funnel. If you spill a little bit of oil on the engine compartment, don't panic. Spilled oil tends not to be super-dangerous, though it will smell bad and may smoke some. Try to wipe it up as best you can with a rag or a towel. Check the oil again. Remove the dipstick and check the level. Repeat this process until the appropriate amount of oil is showing on the dipstick. Wipe the stick off after each read. Once you have finished, double check that the dipstick is fully seated and the oil fill cap has been tightened. Double check any other locations you have checked, remove any rags, paper towels or oil bottles.

Lower the hood prop and close the hood. There should be some lines at the very bottom end of the stick. The criss-cross lines are the low oil area, the bottom line is the cold engine oil minimum line, the second line is the warm engine minimum line and the cold engine maximum fill line, the top line is the warm engine maximum fill line.

To read the dipstick, pull it out and wipe it off with a fresh clean shop towel, then replace the dipstick and remove it again. Hold the dipstick horizontally and look at where the oil line is and determine if you will need more oil.

The Importance of Checking the Engine Oil Level & Condition

When you have added more oil, check the level again. Yes No. Not Helpful 5 Helpful 4. What if the engine was hot and the oil light came on? How long do I have to wait to recheck the oil? Let it cool, then top it up and talk to a mechanic because your engine is either burning or leaking oil. Not Helpful 3 Helpful 2. Is it normal for a dipstick to show oil as full, but the container only has a small amount of oil showing when I remove the oil filler cap?

Logic Johnson Lafontaine. It sounds like you're pulling the dipstick right out of the engine, probably after it's been running, without wiping and reinserting first. The first oil level you see when pulling the stick out isn't accurate.