Checking Your Oil Level

May 24th, 2016

We’ve explained the importance of changing your oil, and what oil does for your car. But did you know there’s yet another crucial aspect regarding your oil? Yeah, we know, oil is a pretty big deal when it comes to your car.

Let me level with you

Remember when we talked about how oil acts as a lubricant for your engine? Well, we need to make sure we have the right amount of that lubricant; you don’t want to have too much or too little. If you overfill your oil, you have a good chance of damaging something internally within your vehicle; the engine, head gaskets, crankshaft, etc. If your oil level is too low, then you won’t have proper lubrication in your vehicle, and your risk of overheating increases, since oil acts as a coolant.

With all that being said, how can we make sure our oil is where it’s supposed to be? I don’t know about you, but I really don’t want to spend a ton of money on repairs when I could just learn how to take better care of my car – not that you don’t already, but there’s always room for improvement!

Anyway, it’s a pretty simple task, and all you really need is a clean rag and your owner’s manual, if necessary. Let’s do it!

  1. There’s a bit of a debate whether your oil level should be checked when your engine is hot or cold. Check your owner’s manual for this one – some manufacturers make it so oil level readings are most accurate when the oil is warm, and others insist you check when it’s cold. Some say it doesn’t really matter, but I would check just in case. Better safe than sorry, right?
  2. Go ahead and open the hood of your car.
  3. Locate your dipstick. You might have already known this, but if you look up this word on an online dictionary, you’re going to see the definition “a stupid, inept person.” That’s not exactly what a dipstick is in this case, and hopefully you don’t use that word to insult anyone! A dipstick looks like this: Screen Shot 2016-05-24 at 11.40.09 AM
  4. Pull the dipstick out and then wipe it clean. That part confused me at first; I mean, aren’t we checking what level the oil’s at? Why wipe it all off? Well, when your car is running, the oil splashes around everywhere. It probably also splattered everywhere on the dipstick, so checking it without cleaning it would probably result in an inaccurate oil level reading.
  5. Once you’ve wiped off the oil, stick it back in, and then pull it out again. THIS is your oil level. Dipsticks have a variety of ways of telling you what your oil level is. Some may have 2 marks that say H (for high) and L (for low), some may just have 2 marks on there with no letters, 2 dots, a crosshatch pattern, etc. Dipsticks are funny like that. It’s usually straightforward, but if you need to, don’t be afraid to consult your manual. As long as your oil level is between the “high” and “low marks, you should be good.

You may need to make a few adjustments to your oil level, depending on where it’s at. It’s also worth noting that if you have really dirty oil, it might be time to get your oil changed… but, if you’ve been reading our previous posts, then you should know all about that!

You’re done!

That’s it! It’s really easy, trust me. In fact, reading this would probably take more time than actually doing it yourself. So why not give it a try on that fancy Mercedes SLK of yours? (That’s what you have, right?) 😉

Your car will thank you.


And I’m thanking you for reading,
– Kathy


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