How to Check Your Vehicle’s Oil

Most drivers are very familiar with their vehicle’s oil, know how often they should have an oil change, and are generally aware of why oil is important to their car, truck, or SUV. With that being said, it’s shocking how many people don’t keep up with this key fluid in their vehicle. A study by the Car Care Council found that 22% of vehicles have low or dirty engine oil. You may go by an electronic indicator or sticker in your window to tell you when you are due for your next oil change; however, you should really check your vehicle’s oil quite regularly.

How Often Should I Check my Oil?

While it’s great to have your vehicle tell you when it is ready for an oil change, that indicator, or sticker, is not always correct. Depending on your vehicle age, type of oil used, and driving conditions, oil change timing will vary. No matter how routine you are about having an oil change, over time, your vehicle’s oil and oil filter can collect dirt, debris, and filth, requiring an oil change sooner than anticipated.

Your oil can become dirty, low, etc., so it’s recommended that you check it once a month. By doing this, you will able to tell if there are any issues, before they become much larger, and there is damaged caused to your vehicle. Checking your vehicle’s engine oil is quick and simple, and something that almost any driver can do themselves.

How to Check Your Vehicle’s Oil

Checking your vehicle’s oil is one of the easiest things you can do on your own. If your oil is low or dirty, it can damage your vehicle, so it’s important that you do this simple maintenance step between oil changes.

  1. Pull Out Your Owner’s Manual: As we always recommend, read your owner’s manual to see where your oil dipstick is, how to prep the hood, and to understand if the oil should be cool or warm (with some cars, the automaker recommends that the oil be checked after the engine has been warmed up).
  2. Turn Off and Park Your Vehicle: Be sure your vehicle is parked on level ground with the engine off. Once you have done this, you can pop the hood and use the safety catch to latch the hood up (your owner’s manual can tell you how to do this).
  3. Locate and Clean the Dipstick: Your dipstick is likely easy to find and is usually marked with an oil can symbol. Once located, pull the dipstick fully out and use a rag to wipe off any oil on it. Fully insert the dipstick back in.
  4. Remove and Check the Dipstick: Remove the dipstick again. On the tip of the dipstick you will usually see lines. Some will have a line marked “full” while others will have a textured area that represents the capacity of the oil pan. If there is an indication that your oil is low, some needs to be added.
  5. Wipe the Oil on the Rag: If the oil appears soiled (is a dark color) or feels gritty, this is a sign that your oil is dirty and in need of an oil change. The oil should be a normal amber color when clean.
  6. Close Everything Back Up: Once you are done checking your oil, replace the dipstick, close your hood, and either head for an oil change, or get back to your normal routine (based on your findings).

Checking your vehicle’s oil is an easy and pretty timeless project and can make all the difference in the longevity of your car, truck, or SUV. Dirty oil can harm your vehicle by damaging engine parts, decreasing fuel efficiency, or even triggering an engine breakdown. To keep your vehicle’s engine in good condition, having clean oil is key.

Advanced Transmissions & Emissions, is the leader in auto repair and service in Phoenix, AZ. Our team of auto technicians are Automotive Service Excellence (ASE)-certified, so you can feel confident that you’re getting the best service for your vehicle. As a Phoenix locally-owned and operated auto repair shop, we make it our priority to ensure to treat our customers with the respect they deserve.

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