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How to check your engine oil

Keeping your cars oil level topped up is vital to ensure that the components in the engine don't start to wear out, and that the engine runs smoothly and efficiently. Performing an oil check is quite straightforward and should probably be done at least once a month, especially if the vehicle gets used a lot.

  • Park your car on a level surface. This is important because if the vehicle is on a slope, the oil level on the dipstick may be misleading and you could end up over filling the engine

  • Ensure that engine is reasonably warm. Oil will be less viscous (ie. less thick) when it is warm, and so most of the oil should drain down easily into the sump after turning off the engine and enable you to get an accurate reading on the dipstick

  • After turning off the engine, wait for 5 minutes or so to allow most of the oil to drain down into the sump

  • Open the car bonnet or engine cover and look for the dipstick. If you are unsure of it's location you will have to check your cars manual

  • Pull the dipstick right out, and using an old rag or cloth, wipe the dipstick clean from top to bottom. You will notice a slightly flattened area near the end of the stick, with 'MAX' and 'MIN' level marks on it

  • Re-insert the dipstick all the way back in, take it out again and look at where the oil level reaches between the two marks

  • Ideally the level should be within half a centimetre of the 'MAX' mark. If it is not you will need to top it up. Always top up with the grade of oil recommended in your cars manual for best performance

  • Also check the colour of the oil on the dipstick. If it's very black it means the oil needs to be changed. If it's slightly brown it's probably ok, but if it's a very dark brown colour, it will be time to change it soon.

  • If all is well, wipe the stick again and put it back - that's it!

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