Ideally, you should inspect your oil levels on a weekly basis but most drivers don’t do this, especially in the freezing cold of the winter. When you are able to take a look under the hood, here’s how to check your oil—the right way.
How To Check Your Oil
1) Make sure your car is on a level surface. Stop the engine and wait a few minutes or up to a few hours for the oil to settle as the engine cools down.
2) Next, find your dipstick. This should be right on top of your oil tank. Typically, the dipstick is bright yellow with an easy-to-grab ring.
3) Remove the dipstick and wipe it clean with a rag or paper towel. Make note of the etchings and marks on the stick, indicating the proper oil levels. Once clean, plunge the stick back into the oil tank making sure it’s fully inserted into the tank before you take it out a second time. Do not “pump” the stick up-and-down as this will result in an inaccurate reading.
4) Working quickly, check the level of the oil using the guides on the dipstick. There will be two marks on the stick indicating the optimum oil level for your engine—the oil level should always be between the two lines.
If your oil level is below the bottom line, or if there isn’t any oil on the dipstick at all, you should immediately top off your engine oil and make an appointment with your mechanic to inspect for a leak. If the oil level is above the line, the oil reservoir is overfilled. A small amount of extra oil may not cause any damage to your engine but excessive amounts of oil can cause significant damage to your engine—when too much oil is put into the reservoir, the excess can be pulled into the crankshaft as it spins.
Oil Level Sensors
Many modern cars have automatic oil level sensors that will alert the driver when the oil gets too low and needs to be replaced. These sensors are convenient tools for drivers and mechanics alike but, like any tool, they can malfunction. Knowing how to check your oil in a pinch and keeping close track of the recommended milestones for replacement are equally important tools for every driver to have.
V&F Auto is your go-to auto repair facility in Agawam, MA. Routine maintenance services like oil changes keep you two steps ahead of any costly repairs or breakdowns.
Our oil change services are meant to protect and preserve your vehicle’s engine. Call us at (413)314-2280 or schedule an appointment online.
This article was originally published in 2020 and has been updated.