How to Check Your Car’s Oil

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How to Check Your Car’s Oil

Along with fuel and water, oil is the lifeblood of your engine. Part of good auto maintenance is to check your oil levels and the quality of your engine oil regularly to ensure safety and performance while you’re on the road. Checking your car’s oil is easy with the following easy tools and steps.

Why Check Oil?

Like a blood test, an oil check is the best way for you to diagnose the condition of your engine. Oil is more than just a lubricant for the engine’s moving parts. As oil moves through the engine, it also picks up heat and corroded metal that can interfere with your engine’s performance. From time to time, you need to check and replace oil to ensure that your engine runs as smoothly as possible.

Some people perform oil checks only when they reach a gas station and the attendant offers the check-up for them for free. Oil checks are easy to do, and you should perform an oil check regularly to keep your engine at its best level of performance.


An oil check is one of the simplest tasks you can perform in routine auto maintenance. Here are the tools you need to check your car’s oil:

  • Flashlight
  • Clean rags
  • Paper towels


When you check your oil, you should pay attention to both oil levels and the quality of the engine oil. An oil check is a simple two-phase process that you can do at home. To prepare your car for an oil check, follow these steps:

    checking car oil

  1. Park your car on level ground.
  2. Turn off the engine, and wait for the engine bay to cool and for the oil to settle. It takes about 30 minutes for the cooldown to finish if your car is parked on a shaded area.

Checking Oil Levels

To check oil levels, follow these steps:

  1. Pop open the hood and locate the dipstick. The oil dipstick is usually just behind the engine, usually indicated by an orange knob.
  2. Lift the dipstick out of the oil receptacle, and wipe it clean with a rag.
  3. Dip the full length of the dipstick back into the receptacle.
  4. Lift the dipstick up and away from the receptacle, and read the pointed end. The dipstick should read “Full.” If the oil reading is below the “Full” indicator on the dipstick, top up the oil.

Checking Oil Quality

Once you’ve finished checking the oil level, it’s time to check the quality of the oil:

  1. Dip the whole length of the dipstick into the receptacle, and wipe off the oil with a clean paper towel.
  2. Check the odor of the oil, and compare it to fresh oil from a new container. The oil should not smell burned, and that it should not smell like it’s mixed with a heavy mixture of gasoline.
  3. Check the consistency and look of the oil from the paper towel. A few flakes of black metal is OK, but you should watch out for chunks of metal. Good oil should also be translucent; you need to change your engine oil if it starts to turn opaque.

You don’t have to take your car to a gasoline station or a professional auto maintenance shop to get your engine oil checked. With these tips, you can preserve the lifespan of your engine and improve your car’s performance with a simple oil check.