Checking the oil in your car is a simple maintenance project that allows the functioning of the vehicle without significant problems for a long time. Checking the level of oil is crucial since it keeps the internal parts of the car from early wearing out.
Even though changing the oil every three months or at least once every 3,000 miles (4,800 km) is a norm, it is an excellent idea to check it every two weeks. The task is fast and straightforward, but not every car owner knows how to do it. I will give you a useful guide on how to check the oil in the car through a few simple steps.
Check the Oil Regularly
Never forget to pay attention to the oil. The color, smell, and viscosity can all be a good clue to whether or not you should change it.
As you probably know, clean oil is amber-colored, but it can turn black or brown after extended usage. It is not a reason for worry since the color itself won’t affect the quality.
On the other hand, if the oil smells of gasoline, you should change it. Also, you need to do it if it leaves a smudge or is gritty to the touch.
Check for metal particles, because their presence usually means that the engine is damaged! Bring it to the mechanic for maintenance if the amount of these pieces is concerning.
One more thing to consider is the light-colored and milky color of the oil. The cause of this can be the coolant leakage. In that case, don’t drive the car, but call someone to tow it to avoid the risk of permanent damage.
The Process of Checking the Oil
Step 1 – Tools
First, make sure you have the equipment you need for this task, including:
- The owner’s manual
- Protective gloves
- Paper towels or an old cloth
Step 2 – Cooled of or warm engine
You will find numerous articles advising you what to do before checking the oil in your vehicle. Some of them recommend you to warm-up the engine before checking the oil, and the other will suggest you let the engine cool off to avoid burning yourself.
Nowadays, many companies made it possible to check the oil regardless of the current temperature of the engine. If you decide to check it while the engine is warm, the best time for that is after a short drive.
Step 3 – Stay protected
Before starting the procedure, you should turn the car off to keep yourself safe.
Step 4 – Park the vehicle appropriately
Make sure that the car is parked on the level ground to get the accurate reading. After that, you should wait for about ten minutes for the oil to settle in. Otherwise, the wrong results will appear, which may cause you some trouble.
Step 5 – Find the dipstick
After opening the car hood, you should locate the dipstick first. Read the user guide if you don’t know where that part is. In most cases, you can find it on the left side of the engine.
Its handle is always colored, making it easy to recognize. As soon as you pull the handle, you will see a long piece of metal sliding out of the engine. Keep in mind that some European models don’t have a dipstick at all.
Step 6 – Remove and clean the dipstick
Remove the dipstick and clean it with the previously prepared cloth. Go from the handle to the tip of the metal stick. You can somewhat measure and check your oil without cleaning it.
However, it is better to wipe the dipstick off and reinsert it. Then, pull it out again. That way, you will get the most accurate results.
Most of the dipsticks have ‘low’ and ‘high’ or ‘min’ and ‘max’ marks. However, some car models have just cross-hatch tags showing what the exact level of the oil should be.
Step 7 – Pour the oil if necessary
If the level of oil in your car is too low, you should pour some oil as soon as possible to avoid damaging the engine.
However, always check the color of the oil before that. It only makes sense to add new oil if the old one inside the engine is still amber in color and smooth.
Step 8 – Clean the dipstick
After all, clean your dipstick once more and insert it back into the engine. Always make sure it is firmly attached. Basically, this is not a complicated procedure, and it won’t take more than ten minutes.
- Where to buy – In general, you can buy the oil at the service station or auto supply stores. Nowadays, most supermarkets offer a wide range of engine oils so that you can buy it there, as well.
- The grade of oil – The best option to use the correct viscosity grade of the oil is to find this piece of information in the owner’s manual. If you notice that the car has trouble starting in cold weather, the engine is ticking, or the oil leaks or smells like it is burning, there is the possibility that you use the wrong category of oil.
- Oil contamination – Take care of the possible impurity of the motor oil you use. It may get contaminated with the debris from the air, metal shavings from the engine itself, and combustion by-products. One of the best solutions is to purchase an excellent oil filter to help your engine function properly. That way, your car will serve you for years.
- Online reminder – Fortunately, there is an app available on the Net you can download at any time. It will remind you when the time to check your oil comes. Regular checking is a great way to take care of your car and protect the engine adequately.
Be aware that your car won’t work well without proper maintenance. Regular changing the oil is one of the crucial procedures, so you should take care not to forget to change it when needed.
You can always do it by yourself, or you can ask for professional help, as well. It is wise to spend ten minutes to do the job adequately and avoid facing more significant problems.