How To Inspect Your Oil

How to inspect your car oil. A man looking for oil in a shop

Regular vehicle maintenance lowers the likelihood of breakdowns and expensive car repairs. 

The first step is to check the engine oil, which lubricates the internal engine parts and prevents them from wearing out quickly. Driving a car on insufficient or dirty oil can hinder the vehicle’s performance and even result in complete engine failure

Most cars require an oil change after 3,000 to 5,000 miles. However, to avoid unforeseen issues, it’s a good idea to check the motor oil once every two weeks. 

While you may need the services of an expert for regular car maintenance, you can inspect the engine oil yourself. 

In this post, we will help you understand how to check the oil in your car step-by-step.

Let’s dive right in.

Step 1: Getting Started.

You can check the oil while the engine is cold, but it’s best to determine the oil level after warming it up to get a more accurate reading. You can take the car for a short spin and check the level once you return home. 

Park your car on level ground and switch off the engine. Wait for 10 minutes and pop the hood. If you don’t know how to do it, look for a handle on the driver’s side of the door and gently pull it. 

The hood will partially open. To fully open it, look for a lever beneath it and press. Next, ensure the hood is securely held up, so it doesn’t unexpectedly close while you’re below it.

Step 2: Find the Oil Dipstick.

The next step is to locate the dipstick. In most cars, an oil dipstick is usually located on the engine’s left side, so it shouldn’t be difficult to find. If your vehicle is a front-wheel drive, the dipstick is located toward the front of the engine.

Usually, it has a yellow or orange circular handle, marked with an “oil can” symbol. 

Step 3: Pull the Dipstick and Reinsert.

Pull the dipstick handle, and a long metal measuring stick will slide out. 

Keep a clean paper towel or lint-free cloth with you and wipe any oil at the end of the dipstick. Now, slowly push the dipstick back in and ensure it’s inserted all the way.

Step 4: Remove the Dipstick and Inspect.

Every dipstick uses some method to indicate the motor oil level. It may feature two pinholes or lines marked L and H (low and high), or it may have the words MIN and MAX engraved on the stick. The upper line indicates the full mark, and the lower shows that oil is approximately one-quart low.

After you have withdrawn the dipstick, examine its tip. Your car has sufficient oil if the mark is between the two lines. But if it’s at the lower line or below, it indicates the engine needs more oil.

Feel the thickness of the oil by touching the end of the dipstick with your index finger and thumb. If the oil feels dirty or you see a smear after rubbing, it’s time to get an oil change.

importance of regular oil changes

Now that you know how to check the oil in your car, let’s see some benefits of replacing it regularly.

  • Reduces Engine Wear and Dirt Buildup: Oil changes remove debris and dirt buildup from the engine, allowing your car to run smoothly.
  • Better Gas Mileage: If you don’t change the engine oil at recommended intervals, it will reduce your car’s mileage and consume gas faster.
  • Provides Lubrication: It guarantees that your engine is well-lubricated and doesn’t dry out and cause other problems.
  • Extends Engine Life: Consistent oil changes prolong the engine life, giving it more mileage.

Just as humans need water to live, our cars need clean oil to run at their best potential. Chalk out a maintenance schedule and stick by it to ensure your vehicle stays in its prime for longer.

tips to remember

Checking the vehicle’s oil level is simple if you follow the proper steps. It takes minutes to complete and allows you to determine if you need an oil change.

Some car maintenance tips for this task include:

Check the Oil Color.

Remember, the consistency and shade of the oil indicate its age. With time, the color slowly changes from golden to brown and eventually becomes black due to internal combustion.

Further, if the oil appears milky, it could mean that a coolant is leaking into the engine. You should also inspect for metallic particles as they signify internal engine damage. Call a local auto shop and have your car towed if you suspect contaminated engine oil.

Find Out Where to Get an Oil Change.

If you are inexperienced, it’s best to get an oil change from a trusted auto repair shop. You may have many in your vicinity, but reaching out to the best one is the first step to extending your engine’s life. Look up shops with the best customer ratings that offer oil changes.

Do your homework before making an appointment at any local auto shop. Auto repair companies usually offer complementary services along with an oil change.

Some of these services may include:

  • Checking the engine lights
  • Inspecting the condition of the brakes
  • Examining the battery and charging system
  • Evaluation of safety items
  • Checking air filters and tire pressure
  • Fluid top-off

You would save plenty of time and money when opting for bundled car maintenance services. When you scrutinize the market, you can find packages that offer the best bang for your buck.

Choose the Oil Type Carefully.

Motor oil is the lifeblood of every car. Using the wrong type can result in costly engine deterioration. However, the vast range of vehicle oil options in the market can be confusing.

Whether you choose synthetic or conventional oil, you must ensure that it is according to the manufacturer’s recommended viscosity, i.e., the oil’s ability to flow at different temperatures.

Another thing to keep in mind is your driving conditions. Harsh driving conditions like stop-and-go or off-road terrain require the oil to work harder and be changed frequently. Your owner’s manual will tell you what the car manufacturer instructs in this regard.

keep your car running for years to come

Regular maintenance and mindful driving are the fundamentals of extending a car’s lifespan.
For starters, access to the proper knowledge and gear will allow you to maintain your car well. And secondly, do not forget the value of a trusted local auto repair shop. The savvy professionals will curate a car maintenance plan that beats all the odds. Call and discuss how you wish to squeeze more miles out of the engine, follow the provided plan, and enjoy spinning your wheels for years to come!

Up Next: Car Maintenance Tips to Extend the Life of Your Vehicle

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