How to Check Your Car’s Engine Oil Level and Quality


All vehicles have mechanical systems and machinery that rely on various types of fluid to operate properly, smoothly, and safely.

Examples of these fluids include brake fluid, engine coolant, differential fluid, and engine oil.

Without these fluids, your vehicle will fail quickly.

But out of all the fluids vehicles need to run efficiently, smoothly, and safely, there’s one that stands out in terms of importance: engine oil.

The primary role of car engine oil is to lubricate all the moving parts of the engine. When these components are well-lubricated, they run more smoothly and are less susceptible to friction and wear and tear.

On many occasions, a thin layer of engine lubricant is the one thing that can prevent engine parts from grinding together.

Engine oil also draws heat away from various components of your vehicle, enabling the engine to run at optimal temperatures. Without this fluid, your engine will seize quickly and might overheat.

Lastly, engine oil also plays a key role in keeping your car’s engine clean.

These functions make engine oil the “lifeblood” of your vehicle’s engine.

Checking the Oil Levels of Your Engine

Checking the oil regularly is vital for keeping your engine running well and getting the most miles out of your car.

If it’s your first time checking your car’s engine oil, follow this step-by-step guide:

1. Park your car on an even surface

To get an accurate reading of your engine oil levels, park your vehicle on flat, even ground.

Never leave your car on a tilted surface, ramp, or an uneven patch of the road when conducting the check since even a slight slant can give you an inaccurate reading of the engine oil level.

2. Let your engine cool down first before checking the oil level

Once you’ve parked your car, wait at least 15 minutes before checking the oil.

Wait for the engine to cool a bit so that the oil flows to the oil pan and the oil temperature goes down.

If you haven’t gone over your vehicle’s owner manual yet, you would do well to read it first since some manufacturers do not recommend checking the oil levels when the engine is cold.

3. Find the dipstick in your car’s hood

First, ensure the hand brake is engaged before opening your vehicle’s hood.

Once you’ve opened your hood, look for the dipstick. It is usually a yellow or orange stick found in the center of the engine compartment.

Take the dipstick out and wipe it with a clean piece of cloth to remove any dirt or grime it may have. Doing so ensures you won’t get any of these substances into the oil and internal parts of the engine, which might damage them.

4. Check the engine oil level

Since you haven’t used a dipstick before, familiarize yourself with this tool before checking the engine oil.

A typical dipstick has two markings at the tip. The lowest line indicates a low oil level, while the upper line pertains to full marking.

Some dipsticks have Full and Low, L (low) and H (high), or Min (minimum) and Max (maximum) written on them to indicate the levels.

Once you know which end of the dipstick to insert, dip it into the tube. Remove it to see the oil at the tip.

If the oil level is between the two lines, your vehicle still has enough engine oil.

However, if the mark is below the low line, you need to add more engine oil.

5. Add oil to the engine

If the engine oil is low, you can top it up by adding oil into the oil filler cap, which is found near the dipstick cap.

Be careful when adding oil; pour it in small amounts and make sure you don’t spill any over the other engine parts. You can use a funnel to avoid spillages.

Wait a minute or two to give the oil time to settle before using the dipstick to recheck the level.

If the oil level is between the two lines, put the oil filler cap back on and the dipstick in its original position. Lastly, close the hood.

Gauging the Quality of Your Car Engine Oil

Although your vehicle needs the right amount of engine oil to run efficiently and smoothly, it must also have good quality oil to optimize its performance and efficiency.

To check if your engine oil is still of good quality, look at the oil sticking to the dipstick or the remnants when you wipe it with a clean cloth.

If the oil is black, its quality is already poor. You have to schedule an oil change immediately.

However, if the oil is white or has a milky hue, it already has excessive moisture. In this instance, you also need to have the engine oil changed as soon as possible.

Another way to check the quality of the oil is to rub a bit of it between your fingers and check if there are any particulates. If you find any, change the oil.

You can also check the oil’s viscosity or thickness with this method. Your vehicle needs an oil change if it is too thick.

If you are unsure if the quality of your engine oil is still good, have a mechanic check it.

Like buying motorcycle lubricant, choosing the right engine oil for your vehicle is crucial. The right product will help extend the life of your engine and enable it to operate efficiently and safely.

Additionally, you have to make it a habit to check the engine oil level and quality every two weeks or 1,000 miles to prevent mechanical failures and ensure you have a car that won’t give you a headache.

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