How to Check & Add Engine Oil

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Check and add engine oil when the motor is off and the car is on level ground. Perform an oil change with tips from an automotive service excellence (ASE)-certified master auto technician in this free video on automotive maintenance.

Part of the Video Series: Car Maintenance Tips
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Video Transcript

I'm Dave Erb from Dave's Ultimate Automotive and we are going to be talking about checking and adding oil to your vehicle. The first thing you need to know is you want to check the oil with the engine off and you want to make sure you are on good level ground. You want to pull the dipstick and find the dipstick which is usually marked with a color, yellow or orange. It might even have an identifier tag to tell you which one is the oil dipstick on the hood or on the front cowl here. You pull the dipstick, go ahead and clean it the first time, stick it back in, run it all the way down and pull it out. Make sure you keep it pointing down so it doesn't go up the stick or drip up the stick and what you are looking for is for it to be between the cross hatches for the minimum maximum. If it is low it is important that you know what type of oil you have been using, whether it is a synthetic or a regular oil, what weight oil you have been using, try to stick with the same brand that you have been using. They all have different chemical makeups. Some can fight each other a little bit if you use different brands against each other and if it is a critical situation in that you didn't find any oil on the dipstick then it doesn't matter what you use just make sure that you get oil in the car. Then get to the nearest place to get it changed and get the right type of oil back in. So at that point you identified that it was low. You have found the oil cap and it is usually marked on top of the engine with a little oil drum, a little oil can. It will even tell you what weight is recommended. Not all people use the weight that is recommended on top of the lid. That is just for the majority of climates. Climate changes can dictate what type of oil you use. If you are in a much hotter place you might want to use a little bit heavier weight oil. So find out what you have been putting in and if you are having your oil changed find out what they put in. At that point I would get a funnel, put it in the oil fill hole, and if it is just below the grid I would start with about a half a quart and see how that works and what you want to do is go ahead and add about a half a quart at a time and then you want to wait just a little bit because you want that oil to be able to drain through the engine and make it to the bottom so you get a proper reading so I would wait about 30 seconds maybe a minute, do the recheck procedure. If it is within the hatch, the hatch marks are the indicators that it is right in between minimum and maximum, I would go ahead and put the lid back on and you'd be done.

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