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How to Check Your Oil

by Contributor

Modern cars don't use much oil. You may not have to add any between oil changes, but you should check it every couple of weeks anyway. The older a car is, the more often you should check the oil level. It's best to check the oil on a cold engine, when all the oil is in the pan. If you've just turned the engine off, you may get an artificially low reading. If the dipstick has pink fluid on it, you've got the one for the transmission. Look for the other dipstick. Never add oil above the "Full" mark.

Step 1

Pop the hood and find the dipstick. Look for a finger loop, usually located near the center of the engine compartment. It may be brightly colored or labeled with the word "Oil."

Step 2

Pull on the loop and draw the dipstick all the way out. Wipe the oil off the dipstick with a paper towel or shop rag. Replace the clean dipstick, making sure to push it all the way in, then pull it back out and hold it horizontally in front of you.

Step 3

Look at the pointy end of the dipstick. If the oil on the dipstick is below the line marked "Fill" or "Low," you need to add oil. Many dipsticks simply have two lines with a cross hatch design in between. The oil level should fall between these two lines. The upper line is the "Full" line. Don't add oil above the "Full" line.

Step 4

Add oil by unscrewing the oil filler cap, which is a located on the top of the engine. It is usually marked with the words "Engine Oil." Judge how much oil you need to add by how low the level is on the dipstick. From the low mark to the high mark equals approximately 1 quart. Pour the oil into the oil filler hole. Allow a minute for the oil to run down into the engine and then repeat steps 2 and 3 until the oil is up to but not above the "Full" line.

Replace the dipstick in the tube and make sure it is fully seated. Put the oil filler cap back on and secure it tightly. Close the hood and you're ready to roll.

Items you will need

  • Paper towels or rags

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