Tips and Advice

How to check and top up your engine oil

Engine oil should never be ignored. Let us show you how to check and top up your car’s oil

Oil is essential for keeping your engine running, so it’s vital you check your car’s engine oil is in good condition – and that there’s enough of it.

If you don’t, you could find your car delivering poor performance or even encounter major engine damage.

Fortunately the job is quick and easy. Here’s how to do it.

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How to check your car’s engine oil

Firstly park your car on a flat surface and wait of the engine to cool. This is important to ensure the oil levels are uniform across the engine, and that the oil hasn’t expanded due to the heat generated from the engine – either could result in an inaccurate reading.

Open the bonnet, and grab a length of kitchen towel or a clean piece of cloth. You’ll need to locate the car’s dipstick – a long, thin piece of metal that will usually have a yellow or orange plastic handle. It’ll usually be fairly accessible and located close to the engine.

Gently pull out the dipstick, taking care not to flick oil over the engine. Wipe it, replace it and pull it out again.

The dipstick will have minimum and maximum marks on the end. A healthy engine should have oil on the dipstick at a point between the two – preferably towards maximum.

Check the colour of the oil. It should be golden - if it’s dark or black, it’s getting old so consider getting an oil change.

Once you’ve checked the oil, reinsert the dipstick and ensure it’s firmly inserted back in the engine.

How to top up your oil

It’s crucial you use the correct oil for your engine. Your local dealer or car spares shop will be able to supply you with the best oil for your car.

Topping up is simple. Ensuring the engine is cool, unscrew the oil cap which will be located on top of your engine. If you’re unsure, speak to your local dealer or check your car’s handbook.

Using a funnel, pour in a small amount oil, giving it time to drain into the engine. Check the dipstick for the level. Need more? Repeat the process, remembering to add small amounts and then checking the dipstick each time.

Take care not to overfill, as it could result in engine damage.

Check out our guide on how to perform an oil and filter change on your car.

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