Tips and tricks to help you get the most out of your car

Workshop Tips

How to Check Your Car’s Engine Oil Level

You should check your car's engine oil at least once a month to make sure that there’s enough oil and that it isn’t contaminated. Oil reduces the friction in your engine and keeps it running smoothly. When you check your engine oil, if it is dirty or smells of petrol, it should be changed.

It pays to check the owner’s manual for the proper way to check your oil, however you can use the following steps to find out whether your vehicle needs oil and how to top it up.


  1. Pull out the dip stick and wipe it off on a clean, lint-free rag. Be sure the engine is cold (or has been off for at least ten minutes) before you check the oil. The location of the oil dipstick depends on whether your vehicle has an in-line engine (rear-wheel drive – image A). If you have a transverse engine (front-wheel drive – Image B) your dipstick should be located near the front of the engine.
  2. Insert the stick back into the pipe. If the dipstick gets stuck on the way in, turn it around. The pipe it fits into is curved, and the metal stick bends naturally in the direction of the curve if you put it back in the way it came out.
  3. Pull the dipstick out again and look at the film of oil on the end of the stick. Hold the dipstick horizontally and note how high the oil film reaches on the dipstick and the condition of the oil, and add or change the oil as needed. DO NOT add oil into the tiny tube that the dipstick sits in. Locate the screw-off cap on top of the largest part of the engine (Rocker cover). It could be blank or it could be labeled "Oil Cap" or something similar, and it might even indicate which grade of oil you ought to be using in your car. Unscrew that cap and add oil as needed, we recommend adding only 0.5 litre at a time to ensure you don’t over fill the engine.
  4. Put the dipstick back into the pipe. You’re done!

Oil turns black pretty quickly, but that doesn’t affect the quality. Rub a little between your thumb and index finger, and if it leaves a dirty smudge, it probably needs to be changed.

If your oil looks clean enough but only reaches the “Add” level on the dipstick, you need to add oil. You can buy oil the next time you fill up with petrol at the service station or you can find it at auto supply stores and supermarkets.

December 03, 2012 | Posted in: Workshop Tips

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