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Check the Oil

Check the Oil

The best time to check your oil is before the automobile has been started or when the engine is cold. The oil is settled which allows for a more accurate reading. If you check the oil after the car has been running, you will encounter a hot engine, so please use caution. Make sure that you do not have anything, such as your hair or a scarf, hanging into the engine. If the engine is hot, turn your vehicle off and let it cool for a few minutes.

As always keep safety in mind make sure the automobile is on a level surface and the parking brake is engaged.

Pop the hood and locate the dipstick - check the oil

1. Pop the hood and locate the dipstick. Here are two of examples of different dipsticks (circled in blue) and where they are located in the engine.

types of dipsticks - check the oil

Here are some different styles of oil dipsticks.

Pull the dipstick out - check the oil

2. Pull the dipstick out.

Clean the oil off with paper towel - check the oil

3. Use a clean paper towel or rag to wipe it clean.

Reinsert the dipstick and pull it out again to check the oil level

4. Reinsert the dipstick making sure to push it all the way in. Pull the dipstick out again and check the level by looking at the end of the dipstick. The oil level should be between high and low or full and low. Some dipsticks like the one pictured are not labeled. Low is the dot closest to the end.

CAUTION: Do not over fill! If you fill your car with too much oil, you could destroy your engine. If you are uncertain about how much to add, add a little and then recheck. Continue this process until you have reached the full level. Be sure to allow enough time (30 seconds) to let the oil settle before re-checking.


tipiconTIP: There is actual a right and wrong way to pour motor oil! See the pics below for the difference. The bottle is designed to be poured like the container on the right. It will prevent “glugging” and have less chance of a spill.



TIP:  If your vehicle is in the low range it may take as little as ¼ of a quart to reach the full mark. There is no need to rush out and buy a case of oil. It shouldn’t take any more than ½ to one quart of oil to reach the full range.

About The Author

Pedals and Pumps

PedalsandPumps provides direct, honest information about car maintenance and repair. We provide money and time saving tips for readers who want to maximize their dollar and simplify their auto owning experience.


If you have lost a cap on your tire inflation valve, mention it at your next oil change and the technician will probably replace it for your for free. More ways to tell if you have a tire pressure issue.