6 Things to Look For When Checking Oil

Want to check oil like a real mechanic? Here are six things the pros know to look for after pulling out the dipstick.

How to Check Oil Like a Pro

Is your car level?

To check oil, your engine should be off, with the keys removed. Ensure your car is parked on level ground, or you won’t get an accurate oil level reading from the dipstick.

Got a clean rag handy?

To check oil, pull the dipstick from the tube, wipe it down with a clean rag, then reinsert it. Remove it again, this time checking the level of motor oil on the dipstick. If the level is reading below the “minimum” marking, you should add oil to your car.

What colour is the oil on the dipstick?

Motor oil is generally light-coloured and transparent, but will darken over time. If the oil on the dipstick appears black, it’s a sign that you’re due for an oil (and oil filter) change. Beware light brown and milky oil: this may be a sign that your coolant is leaking into the crank case.

How does the oil feel?

If the oil on the dipstick feels gritty, you’re due for an oil change.

How does the oil smell?

If the oil on the dipstick smells of gasoline, it may be a sign your engine, fuel system or ignition system needs servicing.

What does your odometer read?

Check the odometer whenever you check oil. Has it been between 5,000 and 8,000 kilometres since your last oil change? If so, you’re due.

Now that you know what to look for when checking oil, find out 100 more car maintenance tasks you can do on your own.

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