How to Check Your Engine Oil

How to Check Your Engine Oil

Changing the engine oil is the #1 reoccurring auto maintenance item for any vehicle owner. In order to determine whether or not it needs changing, you first have to check it. Checking your engine oil is quick, simple, and painless. Chances are that you will probably be able to check it yourself, too. Most vehicle models should get their oil changed approximately every three months, otherwise, three thousand miles.

Check Your Engine Oil Yourself

Oil is what lubricates your automobile’s engine and it combats against heat and friction. Heat and friction produce wear. Eventually, wear will kill your engine. By not checking your oil often enough, you could be low on fluid or in need of an oil change.

In order to check your oil, you’ll first need to read the vehicle’s engine oil dipstick. The dipstick is a long rod located inside of the oil tank used for measuring the depth of a liquid.

The steps below explain how to check your engine oil:

Before you start

Make sure the vehicle is on level ground so that you get the correct dipstick reading. If the vehicle is uneven, the dipstick might read incorrectly.

Also, make sure the engine is OFF. Never check engine oil when a car is running. You should also be sure the engine is completely cooled off before checking or changing your oil.


Locate engine oil dipstick. To do so, open the hood of the vehicle and locate the engine oil dipstick. Look for a handle that looks like a yellow plastic ring. Most will read “engine oil” on it. 

*Make sure not to confuse the engine dipstick with the transmission dipstick.

STEP 2: Pull the dipstick upwards and out of the engine and wipe the end clean with a rag.


Reinsert the dipstick all the way back into the engine tank.


Pull the dipstick out again- but do not wipe clean.


Look at the end of the dipstick and read it to get a correct oil level reading. There are generally marks on the dipstick to help you determine if your oil level is low or not. Once you know the oil level of your vehicle, you can add oil if needed.

Also, when checking your engine oil level, look at the color of the engine oil. Clear, light brown, or amber colors indicate that the oil is still good, while darker shades of brown or black indicate that it’s old and that you should change your engine oil as soon as possible.


Reinstall the dipstick back into the tank and make sure that it is fully inserted.


Close the hood of the vehicle, and you’re done.

Checking your vehicle’s oil level is a simple task that takes just a few minutes to complete. Knowing how to properly check your engine oil will help ensure that your engine is being properly lubricated and maintained at all times.