Although most modern cars use onboard computers to indicate when the engine oil is low, many don’t and they still require you to check the engine oil manually. This involves getting under the bonnet and using the dipstick. However, even if your car has electronic sensors to monitor the engine oil level, they do fail and the level may also be on the brink of reaching its minimum level. Therefore it’s good practice to learn how to check the engine oil of your car yourself.
What You’ll Need
- An understanding of where the dipstick is located (as shown in the image above)
- Toilet paper to wipe the dipstick clear
- Engine oil if you need to top it up
The Engine Dipstick
By far the most important aspect of checking your car’s engine oil is the dipstick. In short, it’s a metal rod that extends to the oil reservoir in order for you to read the engine oil level. This is made possible by a min and max level upon the bottom of the dipstick. In terms of finding it under the bonnet, the majority have a brightly coloured handle.
How To Check Engine Oil
- Park your car on level ground and ensure the engine is cool.
- Open the bonnet and locate the car’s dipstick.
- Pull the dipstick out and wipe it clean with toilet paper.
- Dip the dipstick back into the tube.
- Pull the dipstick back out and check where the oil is on the scale (as shown in the image below).
- Add some oil if the level is below halfway on the dipstick.
How Often Should You Check The Engine Oil?
In terms of the frequency that you check your car’s engine oil, we would recommend every month or before any long road trips. The oil in your car is a vital component and if you run your car low on oil, there will be less lubricant in the bearings and other moving parts. Therefore, this may lead to extensive damage which would be expensive to fix.
What Colour Should It Be?
As well as checking the engine oil level, you should also be taking note of the colour of the oil. Although new oil will be golden/yellow in colour, it will turn brown or black as soon as it’s in use.
If the colour of the oil is milky or foamy, this may be an indication that coolant or water is mixing with the oil. If you also notice small metal shavings, this would also mean there are issues from within the engine.
What Engine Oil Do I Need?
Choosing the correct engine oil for your car is highly dependent upon the car itself because there isn’t a single oil for all the cars on the road. Not only does the oil need to be the correct grade (i.e. 5W30) but it also has to meet the correct technical specification. All this can be found in the car’s handbook or the most recent service history receipt where most mechanics will state the oil they have put into the car.
Although the engine oil level is checked when your car goes for a service, you still want to be able to check it yourself. Whether you are about to embark on a long journey or simply want peace of mind, it’s an easy task that anyone can do.