Rick's Free Auto Repair Advice

How to check your engine oil level

Check your engine oil level

by Alex Steil

Checking your engine oil level on a regular basis and topping off when needed is critical to keeping your engine operating with minimal wear. Here’s how to check your oil.

Check engine oil level when the engine has been off for at least five minutes

When you shut off your engine, it takes about five minutes for the oil to drain back down to the oil pan. If you check it right after shutting the engine off, you’ll get an inaccurate reading.

Locate the engine oil dipstick

On most late model engines, the pull ring on the dipstick is yellow, but it may be black on older vehicles.

how to check your oil

Pull, wipe, reinsert, pull and read

With the vehicle sitting on level ground, lift the dipstick straight out of the dipstick tube and wipe it off with a rag. This will remove any oil splash that’s still on the upper portion of the dipstick and give you a more accurate reading. Then reinsert it all the way back into the dipstick tube until it’s fully seated.

How to read a dipstick

All dipsticks will have a marking of some kind to indicate when the engine oil level is full and when it is a full quart low. If the oil level is halfway between the marks, that would indicate that the oil level is one-half quart low and should be topped off.

how to read an oil dipstick

How to add engine oil

Locate the oil fill port and remove the cap. The cap on most late model engines lists the type and viscosity of the recommended oil. If the oil type isn’t listed on the oil fill cap, refer to your owner’s manual for the oil specifications. Remove the cap and pour the oil into the filler. Wait a few minutes for the new oil to drain down into the oil pan. Then repeat the pull, wipe, reinsert and pull routine to make sure the oil level is now full.

©, 2020 Rick Muscoplat and Alex Steil

Posted on by Rick Muscoplat

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