An easy guide to checking your oil

Published: 10/18/2010 by AutoShopit

An easy guide to checking your oil

Oil is essential to your vehicle’s performance, and without the correct level your car’s engine can be put under unnecessary stress and damaged. Being able to check your car’s oil is the most important skill you can learn in order to keep your vehicle in top shape, and with this easy step-by-step guide you’ll be a pro in no time.


Materials: Before you start you will need paper towels or rags, and one quart of motor oil (check your car’s manual to see the recommended grade).


  1. Park your car on a level surface so that the oil doesn’t pool to one side and give you a false measurement on your dipstick. Try and ensure the area is well-lit so you can see the dipstick clearly. You will also want to wait until the engine is cold so that you can get the most accurate reading of the oil.
  2. Open the hood and safely prop it up, then locate the dipstick. You will be able to identify it as the long piece of metal with a loop on the end near the center of the engine. It will generally be marked with a sticker or a bright orange handle.
  3. Pull the loop and remove the dipstick completely from the engine. Then, wipe it clean with a rag or towel before reinserting it back into the engine as far as it will go.
  4. Pull the dipstick back out again, and hold it up horizontally so that the oil won’t run up the metal ruining your reading. The end of the dipstick will have two clear markings on it, either lines or holes, and these are used to indicate where the oil level should be for your vehicle. If the oil level rests between these two marks then you are ok, but if it is below the bottom indicator then you should add the quart of oil to top up your engine.
  5. To add oil, unscrew the oil cap located on the top of your engine —it will generally be clearly marked as “engine oil”. Pour in the oil, and check the level after you have finished to see if you have added enough.  Remember that it is better to add oil slowly and take several readings than it is to remove oil if you’ve overfilled. Keep in mind that you should never add more than a quart at a time to your car without driving it and taking a new reading in between, otherwise you run the risk of having a leaky mess on your hands.
  6. Screw the cap back on tightly and you’re finished! Remember to check your oil twice monthly in order to keep your vehicle in prime condition. can help you provide the proper maintenance for your vehicle, including helpful advice on choosing the best oil for your engine.  In addition, you can browse through our comprehensive database of local auto mechanics to find out where to go when you need a tune up or repair.

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