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How to check the oil level in your car

18th February 2021

Oil is vital to the smooth running of your car engine hence why checking your oil level regularly and knowing how to do this is so important. Car oil lubricates your engine, reducing friction and heat which causes wear and tear. However, the friction and heat can cause your oil to degrade over time so we must check our oil regularly!

Checking your oil level

In order to check your car’s oil level effectively, you will need:

  • A piece of kitchen towel, tissue or lint free cloth
  • Oil
  • Funnel

Step 1 – Pop the bonnet

The first step is as easy as opening the bonnet. If you are unsure of how to do this, your car’s owner’s manual should lay out clear instructions.

Make sure your engine has been off for at least 10 minutes before checking the oil levels. The engine must be cool to get a safe and accurate reading.

Step 2 – Locate the dipstick

Once the bonnet is open, you can look for the dipstick. The dipstick is a brightly-coloured handle, often with a ring as the handle, that is inserted by the engine. The placement of the dipstick is dependent on your car. If you are struggling to locate it, again, refer to the owner’s manual.

Once you have located the dipstick, pull it out and wipe it with your kitchen towel, tissue or lint free cloth. After wiping, you should be able to see two clear marks, one nearer the top and the other nearer the bottom. These marks signify the maximum and minimum oil level for your engine.

Step 3 – Replace the dipstick

Replace the dipstick fully, making sure it is pushed all the way into the tube. Then remove it again and check the level compared to the minimum and maximum marks:

  • If the oil streak is between the minimum and maximum marks, everything is fine and nothing needs to be changed. Simply replace the dipstick and close the bonnet.
  • If the oil streak is below or even just close to the minimum mark, then continue to step 4.

Step 4 – Replace the oil

Locate the oil filler cap in the engine bay of your vehicle. Typically, this will have the word ‘oil’ written on it, or an outline of an oil can. Next, remove the oil filler cap and you may now pour the oil into this tube.

Typically, the difference between the minimum and maximum marks are a litre of oil so if you are below the minimum mark, adding a litre will not send you over.

Having too much oil in your car is just as bad as having too little so put your oil in bit by bit to avoid going over the maximum mark.

After you have refilled your oil, you can replace the dipstick, shut the bonnet and you are free to drive.

How often should you check your oil?

Often car oil can be forgotten about, but it is one of the most important parts of running a car smoothly and effectively. We suggest checking your oil levels at least once a month as this will highlight any issues with leaking or quick burning. Your oil levels should certainly not have decreased below the minimum level in a month, but checking frequently gives you a clear picture of how your car is performing.

If you notice your oil decreasing rapidly, contact your local garage and have your car checked immediately or call a member of our expert team who will point you in the right direction.