How to check your car’s oil level and how to maintain it

Running out of oil in your car can have devastating effects for car owners, leading to breakdowns and expensive payouts to tow it away. Checking for oil often isn’t in the forefront of most car owners minds; however, it is imperative and can save you a lot of time and money.

When to check your oil

A lot of newer vehicles come with an oil gauge and warning check light which will indicate to you that your oil is low and you need to add more. In some cars, particularly older ones, this isn’t the case, or often the light will only come on when it is too late. In these cases, it is recommended that you check your oil levels every couple of weeks if you are frequently using your car.

How to check

Make sure that the engine is off and the car is in park. If you have just been driving, you might want to wait a bit before lifting the hood of your vehicle as the engine can be very hot at first. Check your cars manual on where the oil dipstick is in your car. Once you have located the dipstick pull it out from the engine and wipe the oil away from its end. Insert the dipstick back into the tube as far down as it goes and pull it back out. Doing this process will give you a more accurate reading of oil as it removes any excess that might have been able to get up the stick. Every dipstick has some way of indicating the proper oil level, usually in the form of the words Min and Max or the letter L and H (Low and High). Make sure that the oil is in between these levels and doesn't go below the minimum line. If it has done this, your car needs more oil in it immediately.

You can either take your car to a local garage to get them to add more oil or buy a bottle yourself and pour it in using a funnel until it reaches a line that is safe. If you choose to do it yourself, make sure you are buying the correct type of oil for your car as it can be damaging to the vehicle or not work as effectively if you don’t.

When to change oil

While checking your oil levels, you should take note of the colour, as it should appear an amber tone. If it is a lighter, more milky appearance, this could mean that your coolant is leaking into the engine and watering it down. If the oil is darker, then this could be down to particles from the engine getting into the oil, which means you will need to get an oil change in order for it to work better. You should also look for any metal particles in the oil that is not the dipstick as this could indicate engine damage. If you observe anything like this, you need to take your car to a garage to get it checked out professionally as it can be hazardous to drive in these conditions and can cause your car to break down if left too long.

There are other ways to observe something is wrong with your oil other than physically looking at it. If your oil warning light keeps flashing or you observe that you are having to put more in your car a lot more frequently than usual, it could indicate that you need an oil change. Also if you can smell oil or hear loud engine noises or knocking then this too could be due to your car needing an oil change. If your exhaust is letting out thick smoke, this is a sign that your oil is leaking into your engine and you should go straight to a garage to check this out as it can be dangerous and could cause your car to break down.

If you think you need any service regarding oil, whether it be to put more in, an oil change or the tank to be fixed, we can do that all for you at Tates. Call or visit one of our service departments!

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