How to Check Engine Oil: A Comprehensive Guide

Checking your engine often is essential for maintaining optimal performance and maximizing its longevity. But how do I check engine oil level?

Engine oil lubricates the internal moving parts, preventing premature wear.

Additionally, it aids in keeping the engine free from dirt accumulation and prevents overheating, contributing to overall cleanliness and efficient operation. It also neatens the engine, by hindering dirt from piling up, and lowers its temperature.

It is a quick and easy job to check the oil level we advise you to do at every other gas refill.

All you need is a paper towel or rag, and your car’s owner’s manual in case you have questions.

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How to check engine oil level
Source: mechanicbase

How to check engine oil

Before anything, consult the manufacturer’s manual and adhere to the guidelines provided by the car manufacturer.

In some modern vehicles, an electronic oil monitor replaces the traditional dipstick for manual checks.

Here’s a quick step guide on how to check engine oil;

1. Park your car on level ground

When checking the oil yourself, ensure the car is parked on level ground, and in most cases, confirm that the engine is cold to prevent burns from hot engine parts.

When you park your car on an incline, the oil in the reservoir won’t be evenly distributed, leading to inaccurate readings.

2. Locate and withdraw the dipstick

Turn off the engine, raise the car hood, and locate the dipstick. Extract the dipstick from the engine, wipe off any oil on its end, and reinsert it into its tube, pushing it all the way in.

3. Clean and Reinsert the Dipstick

This time, examine both sides of the dipstick to determine the oil level at the end.

Utilize a paper towel or rag to wipe the oil off the dipstick.

Ensure that only bare metal remains to avoid any residual oil that could interfere with your reading.

Now, reinsert the dipstick and make sure it is fully inserted.

4. Check the Reading

After inserting the dipstick, wait briefly, remove it again, and inspect the oil level.

A dipstick usually features markings on both sides indicating a suitable oil range.

The examples of these markings are such as two pinholes, the letters L and H (representing low and high), the abbreviations MIN and MAX, or a crosshatched area.

If the oil line exceeds these markings, it is too high; if it falls below them, your oil level is low.

If the upper edge of the oil streak falls between the two marks or within the crosshatched region, the level is satisfactory.

As you assess the oil level, be careful to observe the physical characteristics of the oil.

Fresh oil appear to be transparent amber and has a smooth flow. Contaminated oil is darker, possibly black or gritty, and tends to have a thicker consistency.

If your oil has a deep black color, it’s undoubtedly time for an oil change.

5. If necessary Follow Up.

When necessary, repeat the process: wipe the dipstick clean and reinsert it into the engine. If it was unscrewed, ensure to screw it back down before closing the hood.

What should I do in the absence of a dipstick?

It’s important to mention that certain modern vehicles lack traditional oil dipsticks.

Instead, they use an electric sensor within the oil pan to track the oil level.

This data is typically not directly visible on the standard dashboard or center console and may be located in a sub-menu within the operating system.

To access this information, consult your manual, as it should guide you on how to navigate to the relevant display.

How to Add Engine Oil

Always use the oil grade recommended by the car manufacturer.

To replenish oil, take off the oil filler cap, typically positioned on the engine’s top.

Its advisable to use a funnel to  prevent oil spillage onto the engine, other components, or the floor.

Since overfilling the engine with oil can be detrimental, it’s advisable to add oil gradually.

Begin by adding approximately half a quart, utilizing a funnel to prevent spills.

Wait for a minute and recheck the dipstick. If the level remains below or close to the minimum mark, proceed to add the remaining portion of the quart.


Routine oil checks are essential for the well-being and durability of your engine.

Monitoring the oil levels ensures it is consistently at an appropriate level and remains clean.

How to check engine oil is a tip every car owner should be aware of.

This task is straightforward and accessible, making it one of the few car maintenance activities that can be performed by virtually anyone, even those without mechanical expertise.

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