When to check your car oil

The oil supply to your car’s engine is critical. Fail to check it and keep it topped up and your vehicle could be in serious trouble. Just a one minute check on a regular basis could prevent engine dirt build-up and will keep your engine lubricated and in optimum condition.

engine oil

When to check your car oil

Try and check it once a week, for example when you go to the garage to fill fuel. If the engine has been running, you’ll need to wait 10 minutes after you switch the ignition off. Park up on level ground and give the oil time to settle in the oil sump so you get an accurate reading.
For safety reasons, you should always wait for the engine to cool down before you open the bonnet and attempt any kind of maintenance.

What you’ll need

  • Your car manual

  • An old rag or paper towel

  • A funnel

  • Gloves and safety goggles

  • Engine oil suitable for your make of vehicle

How to check car oil

Before you start, look at your car's manual. If your car has an electronic oil monitor then you may not be able to manually inspect a dipstick. You’ll need to check your car’s onboard display for information instead.
Next, remove the key from the ignition and pop the bonnet. Locate the dipstick which usually has a brightly coloured loop or hook. Remove this slowly and carefully, wiping off any excess oil. Now do the following:

  • Replace the dipstick, until it is fully in

  • Remove the dipstick again

  • Check the level of the oil on your newly cleaned dipstick

  • The oil level should sit between the minimum and the maximum mark

If the oil is below the minimum level, you need to top up as quickly as possible so that your engine doesn’t suffer any damage.

Look at the colour - in our experience it should be brown or black. If it appears milky, then coolant could be leaking into the engine and you’ll need it towing to the garage for a check-up as soon as possible. If there are metal particles, that could be a sign of engine damage and you should get a mechanic to review.

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Topping up your oil

Always use the grade of oil recommended in your user’s manual. This is quite a simple procedure but slow and steady is better than overfilling. Use your funnel and slowly add oil, stopping periodically to check the dipstick. Repeat until the oil reaches the desired level.

Ask the Protyre experts

At your Protyre local garage, we do much more than simply fit a new set of Pirelli or Bridgestone tyres. You can book one of a series of free vehicle checks that will ensure your car is running at its best.
Our free 6-point safety check helps you avoid the most common causes of car trouble. We’ll check your lights, wiper blades, windscreen wash, tyres, battery and oil level. Whatever the weather you’ll know your car is safe and legal to drive and we can help you fix any issues that need urgent attention. It’s just part of the service at Protyre, the local garage you can trust.

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