Keep Your Engine Running Healthy

engine oil symbol

Checking your car's engine oil is relatively simple. However I will explain in full detail as I'm sure the "short and simple" explanation is already widely available online.

Preparation1) Park on a level surface with sufficient lighting.

2) Make sure the engine is OFF, place in park, handbrake ON.

3) Roll down windows so you never get locked out (as a mechanic I always do this).hood release

4) Pop open the hood (usually the latch is near the left knee).

5) Open the hood and make sure it is secured with the prop rod, gas shock or a piece of wood. 



Checking the Oil

 1) Find the oil dip stick-usually a brightly marked plastic yellow/black handle the size of a dipstick handlecorkscrew handle.

2) Have a piece of cloth or paper towel you don't mind getting dirty ready. Carefully pull dip stick upwards and completely out of the holder. Keep in mind oil may drip off the stick when it's fully extruded.

3) Wipe the end cleaning off the oil.

4) Take this opportunity to look at the markings on the end of the dip stick where the oil was. You should see 4 markings. These are high low levels for both hot and cold conditions. Oil expands as it is heated so cold markings will be closer to the end of the stick. Hot marking will be above that closer to the handle side.

If you've been driving the car for more than 15mins use the hot measurements.

5) Now that you've checked out the markings put the dip stick back into the holder. Make sure the handle stops firmly when inserted.

6) Now it's time to check the oil level. Pull the dip stick out completely and hold it HORIZONTALLY.

7) Look at the hot or cold markings and the level where oil sits. The oil should sit between the high and low levels. If your car has not been driven, look at the cold markings.

dipstick gaugePicture on right- two holes in center depicts the cold low (left) and cold high (right) marks. These are the main marking because after an oil change the oil is cold. If the cars has been driven and operating temperature has been reached (about 10-15 mins) check the hot high level which is the notch on the furthest right. Some dipsticks will only show two marks, it will be likely they are the hot checks. To be sure, check your owners manual or just call up your dealership and ask for service.   


If the oild reading is at the low mark top up with 1 quart or 100ml of oil.  If the oil is a little above the high mark it will be ok. If the oil is significantly higher you may need to drain the oil as it could become aerated (cause air bubble in the oil) during engine operation.