Checking the oil level in your car [a simple guide]

Young female mechanic wiping the engine oil dipstick

With your oil being tucked away out of sight, it can often be forgotten about. However, a crucial aspect of car maintenance is keeping your oil levels healthy. The task is a simple one which can be carried out by yourself at home, so we have created a simple guide on how to do so.

Why you need to check your car’s oil level

Before we get to the steps, it is important to understand why the correct engine oil level is crucial for the health of your car. Oil acts as a lubricant for your engine, and so a lack of oil could lead to damage which is costly and often irreversible. If your oil level does get too low, your car may alert you with a light on the dashboard displaying an oil can with a drip at the tip of its spout.

What you’ll need to check your car’s oil level

To check your vehicle’s engine oil level quickly and effectively, you should gather the following items:

  • A rag or paper towel
  • Gloves to protect your hands from grease and grime
  • A bottle of engine oil in case a top up is required

How to check your car’s oil level

  1. Firstly, ensure your vehicle is parked on level ground. If you need to move it, you should allow enough time for your engine to cool before checking the oil level.
  2. Once you are sure that your engine has cooled, put on your gloves and pop open the bonnet before locating the dipstick. Your owner manual will show an example of what this should look like, but more often than not it will be situated on the left-hand side of the engine with a yellow or orange handle.
  3. Pull the dipstick out to reveal a long piece of metal, and wipe off any remaining oil from the metal with your rag or paper towel. On the dipstick itself, you should find two marks or ridges. Look closely at these as you will see that they each indicate a minimum and maximum point.
  4. At this stage, you will need to replace the dipstick all the way back into the oil, let it sit still for a few seconds and then pull it out. This time, do not wipe any oil off.
  5. Take a look at where the oil has marked the dipstick. It should sit at some place between the minimum and maximum marks. If it sits below halfway, feel free to top of some oil, but not too much. If the fluid sits below the minimum marking, you will need to top your oil up.
  6. If a top up is not required, simply secure the dipstick back in place, close the bonnet and dispose of your paper towel responsibly.

How to top up your oil

Topping up your engine oil is a simple task that you can do yourself in just a few simple steps.

  1. With the correct oil ready, locate the oil cap under your bonnet. This will be identified with an engraved picture of an oil can placed on the lid.
  2. Remove the cap (again – ensuring the engine is cool) and top it up with just a little at a time. Too much oil could also be harmful for your engine.
  3. As you fill it up, keep replacing and removing the dipstick in intervals. This will allow you to monitor how much oil you have added.
  4. Once complete, replace the lid and clear up any spillages before closing the bonnet securely.

Have you got a question about your vehicle? If so, get in touch! As experts in our field, we guarantee to have the answer to your query. Give our Bromley Vehicle Test Centre team a call on 020 8460 6666 today.