How Do You Check Your Engine Oil?: A Guide

Your car’s engine has many moving parts that need oil to work well. Engine oil does this job by keeping the parts lubricated.

So, one of the most important things for your car’s health is to regularly check the oil levels.

Keeping the oil at the right level helps your car run smoothly and makes the engine last longer, which saves you money on repairs in the long run.

Additionally, this ensures that your engine has clean oil thereby preventing problems that could affect how well it performs.

Let’s look at what you need to know and how to check your engine oil, to keep your car in good shape.

An image of how to check engine oil
Photo by Getty Images

How Do You Check Your Engine Oil?

Even if you’ve never tried it, checking your engine oil is quite simple. Your car’s engine comes with a dipstick that accurately shows how much oil is in the oil pan.

Here’s a few steps on how to check your engine oil levels.

1. Park Your Car on Level Ground

Before you check your engine oil, always park your car on level ground to get an accurate and easy reading.

Subsequently, allow your car to rest for about 10 minutes so the oil can settle back into the pan.

While the engine is running, some of the oil in the pan is moving through the engine. So ensure that the engine is off before checking your oil levels.

Allowing some time for the oil to settle ensures an accurate reading.

2. Check Your Car’s Manual

Take a peek at your car manual to see if your car checks engine oil automatically or if you need to do it yourself.

Some modern cars have a system that checks engine oil for you.

If your car does it automatically, great! You can find the oil level on your car’s screen without having to open the hood.

If you have to do it yourself with a dipstick, find out where the dipstick and oil cap are under the hood, and move on to the next step.

3. Find and Clean the Dipstick

Pop open your car’s hood and find the dipstick. It’s often a colorful tab or plastic handle on the side of the engine.

It’s often yellow or orange, and is marked with an oil-can symbol.

The dipstick spot changes depending on the car, so if you’re having trouble finding it, check your owner’s manual.

After you’ve located the dipstick, pull it out and use a piece of paper towel to wipe it down, getting rid of any oil on it.

Take note of where the minimum and maximum marks are.

A photo of a car owner checking the oil level using a dipstick.
A photo of a car owner checking the oil level using a dipstick.
Photo Courtesy: Getty Images

4. Check the Engine Oil Level

Re-insert the dipstick where it was and then take it out again. You’ll see some oil on the dipstick, this shows how much oil your engine has.

Note that, If:

An image of a dipstick Readings on engine oil check
Source: iStock

How Often Should You Check Your Engine Oil?

Knowing when to check your oil is just as important as knowing how. Being consistent is key for keeping your car in good shape.

In the past, gas stations used to check oil every time you got gas. Nowadays, it’s a good idea to check your oil every 3-4 times you fill up your tank or every 1000 miles you drive.

Another good habit is to check your engine oil about once a month.

Checking every couple of weeks is even better, especially if your car is old or tends to use oil between changes.

Moreover, it’s also smart to check before long drives or road trips to make sure your oil levels are good.

You definitely don’t want to end up stuck somewhere with engine problems due to low oil.

Keeping an eye on your engine’s health is really important for taking care of your car. Starting with checking your oil regularly is a smart move.

And if you’re not comfortable doing it yourself, you can always get help from skilled professional mechanics.

Frequently Asked Questions on Checking and Topping up Engine Oil

  • When & how often should I check engine oil?

You should check your oil once a month to make sure it’s at the right level, and always before long trips.

Even though your car’s oil is checked and changed during its yearly service, it’s a good idea to keep an eye on it yourself throughout the year to ensure it’s okay.

Remember, only check your car’s oil level after the engine has been off for at least 10 minutes.

  • What oil does my car need?

Every engine is different, and your owner’s manual will tell you what oil to use.

Alternatively, any engine oil dealers and your mechanics can guide you and provide the right oil for your vehicle, regardless of its make and model.

  • Where can I buy engine oil?

You can buy engine oil from any engine oil dealers. You’ll also find it on the shelves at auto supply stores, gas stations, rest stops, and even supermarkets.

  • What happens if you put too much oil in the engine?

Too much oil adds pressure on internal engine parts, leading to leaks, blockages, and severe damage. It can also cause engine wear since the parts won’t get proper lubrication, potentially resulting in engine failure.


Check your engine oil regularly as it is a crucial aspect of vehicle maintenance that can significantly extend the life of your car.

By following the steps outlined in this article, you can ensure your engine runs smoothly and efficiently.

Remember, oil is the lifeblood of your engine; keeping it clean and at the right level will help prevent wear and tear, saving you time and money in the long run.

Drive safe and stay proactive about your car’s health!

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