How to Check Your Car’s Engine Oil Level & Top Up
It can be easy to forget about checking your car’s engine oil level and topping it up. Between food shopping, the dentist, paying the council tax it can simply get lost in the shuffle. However, if left unchecked this can limit your car’s performance, or even worse, cause lasting damage to the engine. Checking your engine oil level is crucial to running a healthy, efficient car for a long and happy time.
Follow our guide on how to check your car’s engine oil level and top up to keep your vehicle in tip-top working condition.
How Do I Check My Engine Oil Level?
The process of checking your car’s engine oil level is actually rather simple, in fact, it’s one of the simplest car maintenance tasks to do. But first, you’ll need a couple of things to get started.
What you’ll need:
- Engine oil (in case your car requires a top-up)
- A kitchen towel or kitchen roll
- A funnel (to help you pour your engine oil)
- Disposable gloves (if you don’t like getting your hands dirty)
You’re also going to want to make sure of two things. Your car needs to be parked on level ground, this is because if you’re parked half on the curb the readings won’t be accurate. You also need to make sure your engine is cool, if you’ve just parked up leave your car to stand for at least 5-10 minutes.
1) Open Your Bonnet
To open your bonnet you need to find the lever under the dash, this can vary depending on what car you’re driving, so you’ll want to check this beforehand.
If done correctly, the bonnet should pop open. Then you’re going to want to lift up the bonnet slightly and reach around for the release catch. Once you’ve found it, detach it from the bonnet.
Then lift up your bonnet and prop it up safely using the stand inside.
2) Find the Dipstick
In most cars, the dipstick can be found to the left of the engine. The dipstick typically is a bright yellow ring (kind of hard to miss), you will then need to pull it all the way out and wipe it clean with your cloth.
You’ll see two notches on the dipstick indicating the minimum and maximum engine oil levels, you’ll need to pay close attention to these.
3) Check Your Engine Oil Level
Once the dipstick has been wiped you can return it to where it came from. Push it all the way back down into its tube, wait a few seconds and then pull it out.
Then look at the notches mentioned in the last step, your engine oil level should be somewhere between the minimum and maximum. It’s worth repeating this process a couple of times to get an accurate reading.
Using the dipstick your oil level should fall into one of three categories:
- The top of the oil mark is between the minimum and maximum notches, in which case your engine does not need topping up
- The top of the oil mark is roughly halfway between the minimum and maximum, your car engine could use a little engine oil to top it up
- The oil mark is near the bottom notch, you will definitely need to add some engine oil to your car to top it up
NOTE: Some cars do not have a dipstick and the engine oil level can be found on the vehicle’s information displays.
4) Top Up Your Engine Oil
Now for the rewarding part, topping up your engine oil. If your dipstick read one of the two latter categories above, you will need to follow this step, if not you can skip to the next step.
First of all, you’re going to need to find the right engine oil for your car as the wrong oil can do more harm than good. You can find this in your car owners manual or just have a quick look online using your exact car model.
Now, locate the oil cap on your engine. This should either have the word ‘oil’ or an outline of an oil can, making it easy to spot.
You can then pour your engine oil into the cap using your funnel, make sure to only add a little bit at a time. If your engine oil level was about halfway, about 0.5L or less should do, however, if your oil level was near the bottom you’ll want to add more towards 1L.
You also need to be careful not to add too much oil as this can cause damage to your car, it’s best to add small amounts at a time and check your dipstick as you go (waiting a couple of minutes to let the oil run down).
5) Pack Everything Away
This step is fairly simple, however, it can be very easy to lose concentration and cause damage to your car. So to avoid this take your time and be careful, there’s no rush.
After checking your engine oil level and topping up if needed, it’s time to pack everything up and transform your car back into its original state. Make sure the dipstick is back in place, and also that the engine oil cap is screwed on properly.
You will now want to move whatever is propping up the bonnet - if it is attached to the car you should have a latch you can attach it to. Do not, in any situation force or push your boot down, this can dent your sparkly new car.
Hold your bonnet roughly 30cm above the car and drop it, this should lock the bonnet in place.
How Often Should I Check My Engine Oil?
As much as it can be a pain to dedicate time regularly to looking into your engine oil, it can save you serious money and time in the long run. You should aim to check your car’s engine oil at least once a month, more frequently if possible.
If your engine is burning oil or there is a leak, you’ll want to look into this ASAP to avoid further damage to your engine. Issues like these can easily be avoided by checking your engine oil level more regularly.
How Often Should I Change My Engine Oil?
There’s no definitive timeframe in which your car should have its oil changed, it depends on the frequency of use and the length of your journeys etc.
However, it is advisable to change it every 5,000 to 7,000 miles - full synthetic motor oil can last much longer and requires changes less frequently.
How Do I Find Out Which Engine Oil My Car Needs?
As mentioned previously, finding out which engine oil your car needs is a simple case of checking. You can find this in your car owner’s manual, or if you can’t find it, there are tools available online such as Total’s Lub Advisor.
There are three categories of which your car engine oil could be, mineral oil, synthetic oil and semi-synthetic oil.
Mineral oil was designed to be used on older, less performance-driven cars that are much cheaper, while synthetic oils are for newer cars and while more expensive, last much longer and provide better performance. Semi-synthetic oil is a mix between the two.
Why Is It Important to Check My Car’s Engine Oil Level?
Checking your car’s engine oil level and topping up as required is key to ensuring your vehicle runs smoothly, lasts longer and doesn’t cost you a pretty penny in repairs.
Engine oil plays an important role in the performance of your car, working to lubricate engine parts to ensure they work at optimum levels.
Lubricating the engine parts reduces the friction and wear on these parts, while also protecting them from damage from corrosion thus saving you money on car maintenance.
Engine oil also works to save you money on fuel, by optimising the performance of your car it reduces the fuel consumption of the engine and simultaneously the CO2 emissions emitted from your car.
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If you’d like to find out more about what we do or are interested in one of our vehicles, simply contact us here or call us on 01277 549500 to speak to one of our personal advisors.