The oil level on an oil dipstick.

How to check your oil

In Oil Change by HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire

Oil helps protect your engine and other components.

If you check your oil level regularly, you can confirm that you don’t have an oil leak. This helps prevent damage down the road.

Joe from HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire in Woodbridge demonstrates how to check your oil in the video below.

Before looking at the oil level, it’s important to make sure that your car is off and is stationed on a level surface. This will allow you to get an accurate reading. If it is on an incline or decline, the reading won’t be correct.

You also don’t want any hot components around the dipstick while you’re checking the oil. If there are, let the vehicle cool off for a couple of hours or overnight, just to be safe.

How to check your oil

Here are the steps for checking your oil:

Step 1: Remove the dipstick and clean it off. 

Step 2: Replace the dipstick. Make sure it’s going into the dipstick tube smoothly. You don’t want to force it, because it can break and would then need to be removed.

Step 3: Remove the dipstick again and check the reading. There are a couple of marks that differ among manufacturers. Some have two dots, while others have minimum and maximum lines.

Step 4: Clean the dipstick again and place it back in the tube. 

Step 5: Remove the dipstick and recheck the reading. If you have two consistent readings, there’s no need to check it again. If the readings are inconsistent, you will want to check it a third or fourth time. Some vehicles have baffles and the oil can leach down, causing you to get different readings.

Why having the right amount of oil is important

A lot of vehicles today are oil specific and pressure specific for their variable valve timing and lubricating components. 

If you have low oil and if you don’t have a warning indicator, you can run the vehicle but each time you start it it will take longer for the oil to reach the top of the engine. That can slowly wear down the components and result in a major engine repair.

We recently worked on a fairly new car that consumes about a quart of oil every 1,000 miles. Every once in a while, it needed to be topped off with oil. The timing chain eventually wore out and the sprocket had excessive wear. 

Engine oil is vital to the health and lifespan of a vehicle. It’s very important for it to be at the accurate level, and it should not be ignored.

In addition to checking your oil, we recommend having oil changes performed every 3,000 to 5,000 miles, depending on your vehicle and the manufacturer’s recommendation. You can learn more about what happens during an oil change and why they are important in this article we wrote.

If you have any questions or concerns, or would like to schedule an appointment reach out to HomeTowne Auto Repair. Our service advisers are happy to set up an appointment or answer your questions. 

HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire is an authorized Michelin and BFGoodrich tire dealer located in Woodbridge, Virginia. Automotive repair services are performed on all makes and models, including oil changes, brakes, alignments, inspections, and computer engine diagnostics.