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How to Use a Dipstick to Measure Oil

by Kathryn Hatter

Everyone who owns and drives a car should know how to check the engine oil. Because the engine oil keeps the engine running properly, you must ensure that your car has enough oil to lubricate the engine and keep it clean. You use a long, thin rod called a dipstick to measure how much oil is in the oil pan. Once you know how to check the oil, consider looking at the dipstick every time you fill your car with gas.

Step 1

Park your car in a level area so the dipstick will accurately reflect the amount of oil in the oil pan.

Step 2

Consult your owner’s manual to see whether the manufacturer recommends checking the oil when the engine is cold or when the engine is warm. Check the oil before starting the car if the manufacturer recommends a cold engine. Check the oil after you have been driving the car if the manufacturer recommends a warm engine.

Step 3

Open the hood of the car.

Step 4

Locate the dipstick on the engine. It typically has a small, circular handle that enables you to grasp it and pull it out of the engine.

Step 5

Pull up on the handle of the dipstick to remove it from the engine.

Step 6

Use the rag to remove any oil on the dipstick.

Step 7

Put the dipstick back into the engine, making sure you insert it as far into the engine as it will go.

Step 8

Pull the dipstick out again.

Step 9

Examine both sides of the tip of the dipstick to determine how much oil is in the oil pan. The dipstick has lines imprinted on it that indicate oil levels. Consult your owner’s manual if you don’t understand the dipstick lines and cannot figure out whether the oil level is acceptable. If the oil level is higher than the “minimum” or “low” line on the dipstick, the oil level is probably acceptable.

Replace the dipstick back into the engine, again making sure you insert it fully.

Items you will need

  • Rag

About the Author

Kathryn Hatter is a veteran home-school educator, as well as an accomplished gardener, quilter, crocheter, cook, decorator and digital graphics creator. As a regular contributor to Natural News, many of Hatter's Internet publications focus on natural health and parenting. Hatter has also had publication on home improvement websites such as Redbeacon.

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