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How to check your car's oil level

Engine oil is very much the lifeblood of the car's engine. Oil keeps the engine lubricated and cool, it also cleans out any impurities and contaminants and guards against rust appearing on the engine's internal surfaces.

Checking the engine oil level

The engine oil should be checked every week. To do this a clean rag, bottle of engine oil suitable for the car and a funnel should be to hand.

It is best to check the oil level when the engine is cool; the engine should have been switched off for at least ten minutes.

Look under the bonnet and find the dipstick, which will be fitted in a tube located on the side of the engine block. The dipstick should be pulled out and any oil wiped off with the rag. To check the oil level the dipstick is reinserted in the tube and then pulled out again. There will be two marks towards its end indicating the upper and lower levels of oil. If the oil appearing on the dipstick is towards the lower level then it is time to top it up.

The oil cap, which is to be found on top of the engine, should be removed and the oil poured in using the funnel. It is important not to overfill, so pour in just a little at a time and then recheck the level with the dipstick.

Changing the engine oil

The periods between engine oil changes very much depends on the mileage driven each month. Check the car manual for the recommended period between oil changes.

To change the oil, a socket wrench and oil pan or other suitable container to collect the old oil will be needed. Removing the oil cap under the bonnet will speed the drainage of the old oil.

The next step is to put the oil pan or container under the drainage plug below the engine. This will mean reaching under the car, but there should be enough room to do this safely.

Using the socket wrench, the drain plug is turned in an anti-clockwise direction until it is loose enough to remove. Once the old oil has fully drained, the plug can be replaced. When the plug is fully tightened new oil can be added to the oil tank. This is the same procedure as for topping up.

The oil tank can typically hold between 4.5 and 5.5 litres. However, in order to avoid overfilling, the new oil should be added a little at a time and the level checked frequently using the dipstick.