How to Check the Oil in Cars

by Contributing Writer; Updated June 12, 2017

Checking the oil in your Toyota car is important for a couple of different reasons. The most obvious is to make sure the engine has the proper amount of lubricant to keep if running well. Another is to make sure there are no internal engine problems, like a blown head gasket, which would produce a milky-coffee colored oil residue. Regular oil changes are always recommended and checking the oil in between oil changes is a good way to ensure the Toyota car is not leaking or burning oil and there are no other visible problems with the performance of the engine.

Under The Hood:

 How to Check the Oil in a Jeep Wrangler JK

Release the hood of your Jeep by detaching the rubber latches on both sides of the hood. Open the hood by releasing the hood latch (under the front of the hood), and pulling upward. Prop the hood with the provided metal rod.

Locate the oil dipstick in the engine compartment. It should be toward the right side of the engine. The handle is yellow, and should say "Oil" or "Engine oil" on it.

Pull the dipstick straight out of the tube. Wipe the excess oil off of the dipstick with a paper towel or rag, and put it back in the tube, making sure you insert it all the way in.

Remove the dipstick again, and check the oil level reading toward the end of the stick. The oil should stop somewhere in the "Safe" zone. If the level is below the "Safe" zone, add about a quart of SAE 5W-20 oil.

Reinsert the dipstick back into the tube, and press firmly. Close the hood, and latch it shut.

Items you will need

  • Paper towel or rag

 How to Check the Oil in a Honda Civic

Park your car on a flat surface. If your car is parked at an angle, you may have inaccurate results.

Turn your car engine off. Pop the hood of your Honda Civic and latch it to the metal rod to prop it up.

Pull the colored handle, located on the driver's side of the engine, completely out. This is the oil dipstick. The newer Honda Civics have orange handles. The older models may have different colored handles.

Wipe the oil dipstick clean with your hand towel.

Reinsert the dipstick, making sure to push it down as far as it will go. You shouldn't have to use any force.

Remove the dipstick and read your oil level. The oil will adhere to the dipstick. Where it stops is how much oil you have in your tank. The dipstick will be labeled by quart level.

Items you will need

  • Hand towel

 How to Check Oil in a Toyota Previa

Understand that the Toyota Previa is a "mid-engine" car so you will not find the oil dipstick where you would typically expect to find it. Go to the driver's side of the car and stand next to the driver's seat. Look underneath for a yellow tab. Pull the tab up with your left hand while pushing the back of the seat with your right hand. The seat will tilt back.

Note a rug piece. Remove it. Note the metal plate and the black knob. Twist it completely to unlock the plate cover. You may or may not feel the need to remove it.

Look for a yellow knob cover on the left. This is the oil dipstick. Take the dipstick out and wipe it off. Reinsert and then take the dipstick out again. Check where the fluid hits on the stick and whether or not it is low enough to require adding fluid.

If fluid needs to be added, then remove fluid cap next to the dipstick. Then use one-half of a can of ATF fluid at a time so as not to overflow the reserve and put undue pressure on the feed.

Replace the metal plate and twist the opposite way to tighten. Replace the carpet. Push the seat down until it clicks and locks into place. If the oil looks like sludge, it should be changed.

 How to Check Oil in a Toyota Tacoma Pickup

Park the Tacoma on a level surface. If the engine has been running, allow a few minutes for the oil to drain back down into the oil pan.

Open the hood and rest it onto the hood prop.

Locate the oil dipstick. Tacomas have either a 4-cylinder engine or a 6-cylinder engine. The 4-cylinder dipstick is toward the front of the motor between the radiator and the engine oil fill cap, closer to the passenger side of the motor. The 6-cylinder dipstick is on the driver's side of the motor between the radiator and the engine oil fill cap. Both engines have a bright yellow-colored loop-handled dipstick.

Pull the dipstick tube and wipe it clean with a shop rag. Before reinstalling the dipstick, look at the bottom of the dipstick to determine the stamped full and low marks on the dipstick.

Reinsert the dipstick into the tube all the way and remove it again. This is the actual oil level reading. If it is full or between full and low, it should be OK. If it is near the low side or below the low indicator mark on the dipstick or if no oil is registering on the dipstick, you should add some oil. Take note of the color of the engine oil at this time if you're not sure when the last time you had the oil changed. A dark brown or black color would indicate needing an oil change.

Add oil by removing the engine oil fill cap and placing a funnel into the fill spout. Pour a little bit of engine oil at a time and allow a couple minutes to let the oil drain into the oil pan before rechecking. If you have to add engine oil, check the level more frequently. If you have to keep adding oil, bring the truck to a certified mechanic to find out why.

Remember to remove the funnel, replace the engine oil fill cap, replace the dipstick and remove the shop rag before closing the hood.

Items you will need

  • Shop rag

  • Funnel (optional)

  • 5W30 engine oil (optional)

 How to Check the Oil on a Ford Ranger

Park the car on level ground and let the oil drain five minutes into the oil pan after cutting the engine. This allows a more accurate measurement.

Locate the engine oil dipstick. For model years 2001 on, the transmission fluid dipstick has been nearby on the I4 engine, so don’t confuse the two. The engine oil dipstick tends to be a little closer to the front and more left (if you’re facing the engine) than the transmission fluid dipstick. Transmission fluid is of course redder as well. The V6 (both 3.0 and 4.0L) has an engine oil dipstick positioned on the right of the engine, far from the transmission fluid dipstick.

In pre-2001 models, the dipstick is on the right side of the engine, some distance from the transmission fluid dipstick in the back left.

Pull out the dipstick, clean the oil off it, reinsert it all the way back in so it is fully seated. Take it back out again. Note both how clear the oil is as well as where it falls on the crosshatch marks. If the oil doesn’t reach the crosshatch marks, you’ll have to add more oil. If it goes above the crosshatch marks, you may want to drain some to avoid reduced fuel efficiency. If the oil comes up to a point on the crosshatch marks, Ford recommends that you not add any more oil. If the oil is so opaque with dirt that you can’t see the crosshatches through the oil, then an oil change sooner than the usual 3,000 miles may be in order.

Items you will need

  • Rag

  • Motor oil

  • Funnel

 How Do I Check the Oil in My Mazda Miata?

Drive the Miata for 15 minutes to bring the operating the vehicle up to normal operating temperature.

Park the car on level ground and shut the engine off.

Release the hood latch on the left side of the driver's side dashboard. Then open the hood to the Miata.

Locate the engine oil dipstick. On most models, it's on the driver's side of the engine compartment parallel to the oil fill cap and valve cover. It has a yellow colored ring handle and "engine oil" is stamped on the ring.

Pull the dipstick from the dipstick tube. Wipe off the oil at the bottom of the dipstick with a shop rag.

Inspect the end of the wiped dipstick to look for the low, safe and full marks stamped on the end of the dipstick.

Reinsert the dipstick into the tube and ensure it is fully seated inside the tube.

Pull the dipstick out of the tube again. Then compare the level of the oil on the end of the dipstick to the low, safe and full markings on the end of the dipstick. If necessary, add engine oil to the oil fill port until the oil level reads full on the dipstick.

Items you will need

  • Shop rag

 How to Check the Oil in a 2005 BMW

Park your 2005 BMW on level ground. Turn the ignition switch off and allow the engine to cool for at least 10 minutes. But be sure the engine is still warm since oil expands when it is hot and contracts when it is cold.

Raise the hood on your BMW. This can be done by bending down in front of the car. Look for the lever and pull up while lifting on the hood. Prop the hood open if there are no springs or hydraulic strut to hold it up.

Find the oil dipstick. It is located near the spark plugs with a loop at one end. If you can not find a loop, look for a T-stick. Grab the dipstick and pull it all the way out.

Wipe the dipstick clean of any oil. Slide the dipstick back into the hole and push it all the way in. Pull it back out and hold it horizontally.

Look at the very end of the stick. It is marked with a line that says "Full." If the oil is below the full line, you need to add more. Some BMW dipsticks have two lines with a cross hatch pattern in between. The oil level can be halfway between these two lines but no less.

Items you will need

  • Clean cloth

 How to Check the Oil in a Z4

Allow the engine to run--or drive your Z4--for 10 to 15 minutes to bring the engine to its normal operating temperature. This is necessary to receive an accurate oil level reading.

Park your Z4 on level ground but do not shut the engine off. If you park on a slope, the monitor will record an inaccurate oil level reading.

Toggle through the information center by pressing the "1" button repeatedly on the turn-signal stalk until the display reads "Oil."

Press the "2" button on the turn-signal stalk (located on the end of the stalk).

Read the oil level. The display will show a "dipstick" graphic. The oil level should be somewhere in the middle, between "Min" and "Max." If it is low on oil, the indicator will tell you how many quarts to add.

 How to Check the Oil on a 745i

Allow the car to idle for five minutes. The oil will be easier to read once it is warmed up. Open the hood for access to the engine compartment.

Locate the engine oil dipstick on the driver's side of the engine. The dipstick will have a red handle.

Pull the dipstick out of the tube and wipe it clean with a fresh rag. Insert the dipstick back into the tube.

Pull the dipstick out of the tube. Locate where the oil stops on the dipstick. The dipstick has two grooves on it. One on top and one on bottom. Add more oil if the oil does not stop at the top groove on the dipstick.

Twist the oil cap at the top of the engine to add more oil. Use a funnel to prevent spilling oil.

Pour the oil in half-quart increments and then check the level each time. Stop adding oil when it stops on the top groove.

Items you will need

  • Rag

About the Author

This article was written by the It Still Runs team, copy edited and fact checked through a multi-point auditing system, in efforts to ensure our readers only receive the best information. To submit your questions or ideas, or to simply learn more about It Still Runs, contact us.