How to check your motor oil
03 December 2018
/ Lindleys Autocentres
Motor oil in your vehicle is the most important thing to keep everything functioning correctly. The oil's job is to lubricate the engine’s moving parts and prevent overheating. Failing to keep the oil topped up can lead to early wear and tear along with excessive sludge buildup.
Think of it as the main lifeline that powers up the engine. Regular oil checks are in place to maintain the vehicle's "blood level". We recommend you check your oil at least once a month.
You will need:
All you will need for this task is a cloth or paper towel and your owner’s manual to refer to.
Here are the steps to check your oil
Step 1 - Check your owners manual
Before we start, take a look at your owners manual to know whether you need to do this check whilst your engine is cold or warmed up.
Please note: do not check your oil immediately after driving. You want the oil to be in the reservoir not flowing through the engine. Therefore, we suggest you wait at least five minutes before checking your oil levels.
Step 2 - Ensure your vehicle is on level ground
You do not want to check your oil level when your vehicle is parked up on a hill, slanted pavement/driveway or on a curb. The reason for this is because it will alter the oil level reading and may lead you to believe you have more motor oil than you actually do.
Step 3 -Locate the dipstick
Open up your bonnet and locate the dipstick in your car. Make sure you have a cloth handy as you will need it for the next step.
Step 4 - Remove and wipe the dipstick
Pull the dipstick all the way out from the reservoir and give it an initial wipe. Once the oil has been removed, place the dipstick back into the tube.
Step 5 -Check amount of oil
Remove the dipstick once again, but this time check both sides of the dipstick. From reading your manual, you should have an understanding of what the markings on the dipstick indicate.
If you are running low on motor oil, follow onto the next steps. If not, then be sure to uphold the regular monthly checks.
Step 6 - Refill
To refill motor oil you will need to locate the oil filler cap. Typically, the cap will be marked with “oil fill” along with the grade of engine oil you need to use. Again, we recommend you follow your user manual as this will inform you of the kind of oil you should be using.
To avoid flooding your car with too much oil, we strongly stress you add a little at a time. Use a funnel to maintain control and avoid any spillage.
Then, wait for the oil to set for a minute or two before checking the dipstick (following step 4 & 5). If there still isn't a sufficient amount of oil, keep adding bit by bit to ensure you are reaching the recommended amount for your vehicle.
Step 7 - Put everything back into place
Once you are satisfied and everything is complete, wipe off the dipstick one last time and insert it back into its tube. Close the oil fill cap and make sure that it is secure.
Things to keep in mind
On each oil check, you need to keep note of the oil’s colour. Typically, engine oil will alter slightly from a golden/amber colour to a brownish colour - which is okay. However, if you notice drastic changes in the colour, it could indicate that there is something wrong with your engine. We strongly recommend you check in with your local garage to ensure your vehicle is running smoothly.
The same goes for consistency. If you notice the oil is getting thicker, it could indicate dirt is being pulled around the engine. You will need to take your car in to be serviced by a professional to ensure there aren't any major issues with your vehicle.
For more information, please feel free to contact us as we would love to help you out with any inquiries. Be sure to check out one of our previous articles where we covered the three major signs of a blown head gasket.