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How to Check Your Engine's Oil Level

July 17th, 2012 Tools

There are a number of basic maintenance techniques you can perform simply by raising up the hood of the car. Perhaps the most important thing you can do under the hood is checking the car's oil levels. In order to ensure that your engine isn't grinding itself to death, it's vital that you stay on top of changing your oil regularly (about every three months or 3,000 miles, whichever comes first).

First, make sure your car is off and let it sit for a few minutes to cool down. After popping the hood, look for the dipstick. This should be fairly easy to find - it's usually located near the center of the engine and is a metal rod with a small loop at the end. Pull on the loop until the dipstick is completely removed.

Next, wipe it off with a rag. Put the clean dipstick all the way back into the hole and remove it again. Look at the end of the dipstick - there are usually two indicators, one that your oil is full and one that tells you that it's time to add more.

Note that it's okay for the oil to be black, but if it's foamy or smells strongly of gasoline, you may have a more serious problem on your hands and should have your car checked out as soon as possible. Perform this check regularly if you'd like to see how quickly your car is using up its oil. If your levels drop quickly, you may have a leak somewhere and should visit your mechanic to have it fixed.