How to Check and Top Up Your Car's Engine Oil

Your car’s engine oil is crucial in making the engine run smoothly. If the oil level is not checked regularly, then it could go dangerously low and the car might break down or the engine could be badly damaged because of it. Whenever you’re inspecting your car, always check the level of the engine oil to make sure that it is still sufficient. 

How Do I Check the Engine Oil Level?

Most modern cars now have electronic monitors where the oil level can be easily seen on the dashboard. Or warning may appear if it starts to get low.  However, there are still vehicles where you’re going to have to get under the bonnet and then measure the oil level by using a dipstick. If this is the case for your car, then you’re going to need the following:

  • A cloth or paper towel to clean the dipstick as well as any drips
  • A bottle of engine oil if ever you need to top up
  • A funnel so you can easily top up your engine oil without spills

Park Your Car on Level Ground

Before checking your engine oil level, you first have to park your car on level ground. If you park it on a slope, then your oil reading might be inaccurate. The next thing to remember is to make sure that your engine is cool. 

What if you’ve been driving your car and you need to check the oil level? Allow your engine to cool down for about ten minutes before checking the oil level. You may also check it before you take your car for a drive. What’s important to keep in mind is to not check anything under the bonnet while your engine is running or even still hot. 

Look for the Dipstick

When you open the bonnet of the car, look for the dipstick. It’s hard to miss because the plastic handle usually has a bright colour. In case you’re having trouble finding the dipstick, refer to the owner’s manual to be sure. Once you’ve already located the dipstick, have your towel ready because you’re going to wipe it clean as you remove it to have an accurate reading of the oil level.

Check the Oil Level

Return the clean dipstick into the tube and see to it that it goes all the way back. You may then pull it out and then check the oil level by finding where the oil line is. There are marks for the maximum and minimum levels. If you see that the oil line is between the two, then your car should be fine. If you're not sure you might want to check it again, wiping it again before you re-check.

If the mark is already closer to the minimum level, then it would be advisable to add some engine oil. It’s crucial to regularly check the oil level so that it won’t reach a point where it’s already too close to the minimum mark. If your car runs out of engine oil, it can cause damage that would be costly to repair

Top Up You Car’s Engine Oil

If you see that the oil level is closer to the minimum level than the maximum, then prepare a funnel and a bottle of engine oil. To top it up, find the oil filler cap first. It’s located in your engine bay and on it, there’s usually the word “oil” along with an oil can outline. 

Remove the oil filler cap and then place the funnel so you can pour the engine oil without spilling it onto other parts. Typically, the difference between the dipstick notches of the minimum and maximum levels is about one litre of engine oil. If you’ve seen that the current oil level of your car is below the minimum, then you’re going to need a litre of oil. 

If you’re not so sure about the amount of oil to put in, don’t worry because you can always add a bit of oil at a time. Wait for about two minutes so that the oil can run into the bottom of your engine. After that, you may then recheck the oil level with the dipstick. Remember that it’s not good for your car if it has too much oil so you have to be careful not to overdo it, if in doubt put small amounts in and check as you go!

When should I change my car engine oil?

Checking the engine oil level and adding some whenever necessary is among the simplest but most important car maintenance tasks you can do by yourself. When you take your car for the yearly service, the auto mechanic may drain out the old oil and then replace the filter and finally place new oil into it. 

While the oil can be checked annually by the auto mechanic,  you don’t have to wait for that because it’s recommended that the oil level be checked every few weeks. If you go on long drives, then you may want to check the oil level before you get back on the road again. 

Here’s a tip before you take your car for an MOT. make sure that you’ve topped up your engine oil first because the garage will run the engine to be able to check exhaust emission levels. If your car’s oil level is too low, then they might not proceed with the test. 

What happens if i don't change my car engine oil?

If you don't change your car engine oil, it could start to gel or solidify in the engine and eventually turn into sludge. Once this happens, the oil won't be able to reach every part of the engine. At this point, something called 'engine starvation' happens in the crankshafts, bearings, camshafts and other valve train component. This may lead to serious problems for the engine, to the point where it needs replacing entirely. 


A low oil level means there would be less lubrication for the moving parts of the engine. Your car is made up of many metal parts that rub against each other. Without the right oil level, they could get damaged and it would be expensive to repair them. Avoid spending your money on repairs by simply checking your oil level regularly and topping up whenever necessary. Prevention is better than cure! 👍