How To Top Off Engine Oil

You probably checked your engine oil or your engine light went off and realized you’re running low, so how do you top it off?

Typically, when this light comes on, your engine oil might be running low, prompting you to check it.

Before you rush to top off more engine oil and think your job is done, think about the potential outcomes.

Moreover, you may need to ask yourself whether it’s smarter to bring your car to a mechanic to figure out what it truly needs!

It’s important to understand the difference between simply adding oil and getting a full oil change, how to determine which one your vehicle requires, and how often you should perform this maintenance for your car, truck, or SUV.

Read on to find out!

An image of how to top off engine oil
A car owner topping off engine oil
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What’s the difference between topping off engine oil and changing the oil completely?

Many people think they’re the same, but they’re not.

When you top off your oil, you’re just adding more oil to what’s already there.

This can however cause problems because the new oil might get dirty or mix with the old oil, making things worse for your engine.

Changing the oil, on the other hand, means draining out all the old oil and replacing it with fresh, clean oil. This helps keep your engine running smoothly and avoids any contamination issues.

Usually, your oil level shouldn’t drop much between oil changes, so you shouldn’t need to top it off often.

How can you tell if you need a top-off or a complete change?

It’s important to understand the difference between the two.

To figure this out, start by checking your oil.

  • First, make sure your engine has cooled down.
  • Then, locate the oil dipstick (it might be under the hood, possibly attached to the oil filler cap), and wipe it clean with a cloth.
  • Push the dipstick in, wait a moment, and pull it out to check the oil level, smell, and colour.

The level shows you how much engine oil is in your car.

While the smell and colour can indicate if the oil is contaminated, note that if it smells sweet or like fuel, it’s time to see a service centre.

Every dipstick has markers indicating the proper oil level, like crosshatching, “L” and “H” (for low and high), or “MIN” and “MAX.”

If the oil level falls below the minimum mark, you might need to top off engine oil.

Furthermore,  if the oil colour isn’t amber or black (like if it’s pink, red, or green), it’s best to visit a service centre for a proper inspection.

How To Top Off Engine Oil To Your Car

Adding oil to your car isn’t usually needed unless it’s below the minimum level.

However, if you’re running low, it can help you get to a service centre for an oil change is due.

If you decide to add motor oil:

  • Use the correct type and quality recommended in your manual.
  • Turn off the engine and let it cool.
  • Finally, remove the oil cap and pour in a little at a time, checking the level often to avoid overfilling.
  • Wait a minute for the oil to settle, then check the level again.
  • Add more if needed, but don’t go past the maximum mark.
  • Secure the cap, and Voila! you’re done.

Can I Add Oil To a Hot Engine?

It’s not recommended to add oil to a hot or running engine.

The oil level can be higher when it’s hot, and spilling oil onto a hot engine can cause smoking or even a fire.

If you need to top up the oil, turn off the car and wait a few minutes for the engine to cool down before proceeding.

Remember, adding oil isn’t a substitute for a full-service oil change.

Neglecting to change your oil regularly can be risky, so it’s wise to invest in professional maintenance services regularly.


And..Voila! Congratulations! You’ve just unlocked the secret to keeping your engine purring like a champion.

By mastering the art of topping off engine oil, you’ve taken a crucial step towards ensuring your car’s longevity and performance.

Now, hit the road with confidence, knowing you’re in control of your engine’s destiny.

Stay tuned for more tips and tricks to conquer the road ahead!

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