How to Check Engine Oil Level

One of the most common automotive maintenance steps is checking your oil. Low engine oil can cause your engine to seize, stop suddenly and create a major repair expense. Learn how to properly check your oil and filter with this complete oil filter guide in order to keep your engine running smoothly.

Start With Your Owner’s Manual

The best place to start is your owner’s manual. Whether you’re driving a classic car or the latest SUV, the exact steps and types of oil and filter can change dramatically. Ensure that you follow your manually completely to avoid missing an important step.

Some newer vehicles have sensors that help you keep track of your oil level. You can use a car code reader to determine whether the warning signal on your dash is referring to your oil level. Many other cars won’t have this feature, so you’ll need to manually check your oil level and consistency with a dipstick.

Choose a Safe Spot

You’ll get the most accurate level check if your car is on flat, level ground. You’ll typically want your car to remain off for at least 10 minutes. A cool car not only helps you avoid getting burned on the hot engine oil and dipstick, you’ll typically receive a more accurate measurement.

Find Your Dipstick

Once your car is cool and on level ground, pull your dipstick out. This long piece has indicators on one or both sides, typically pinholes. These markers show the minimum and maximum recommended levels of oil in your vehicle.

Don’t trust the oil that is coating your dipstick as you first remove it from the engine. Wipe the entire dipstick clear with a rag and reinsert it. Once you remove it again you should have a clear reading. If the level is too low, you’ll simply need to add oil until it’s reached a safe level. Too much oil could be a sign that it was improperly filled or a more serious issue.

Inspect Your Oil

Even if your oil level is within safe levels you may still need to replace your oil. Determine this by inspecting the color and consistency of your oil. There are three basic issues that you’re looking for to determine whether your oil is safe to use or needs to be replaced:

  • Light and milky appearance
  • Oil containing metal particles
  • Unusually dark and thick

Milky oil is typically caused by a coolant leak. Leaking coolant into your engine can be dangerous and cause your car to overheat. Call a mechanic immediately and consider having your vehicle towed to avoid further engine damage.

Metal particles in your oil is a sign of engine damage. Whether grinding, scraping or corroding, these issues need to be inspected immediately by a trusted mechanic in order to keep your car running.

Finally, thick, dark oil may be old and overused. Replacing your oil as part of a routine maintenance schedule ensures improved efficiency and lubrication throughout your motor.

Restore Your Engine Today

Keep your engine running at peak efficiency with the best engine oil on the market. Contact your local auto store to determine the right oil type for your vehicle.

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