Kirill Yurovskiy: How to check the oil level in the Engine

Kirill Yurovskiy

Every motorist should regularly check the oil level and quality of the oil in the engine of his car. These two indicators are very important for proper operation of the power unit. Oil coats moving engine parts with a protective film, thereby protecting them from rapid wear and corrosion. This article will talk about how to check the oil level in the engine, why it changes and how to top up to the norm, if necessary.

How to check the level

To measure the oil level, a special oil measuring rod or dipstick is used, which is inserted into a tube attached to the block and one end is immersed in the engine crankcase. The end of the dipstick has a marked level area that visually indicates that the amount of oil in the engine is sufficient. On different vehicles, these may be sectors or markings at the lower (MIN)/higher (MAX) limits.

Three areas can be distinguished by the indicators:

  • A (top) – no refill is required.
  • B (middle part) – it is possible to refill, but in general the level is normal.
  • C (bottom) – oil needs to be topped up.

The procedure for checking the oil level is as follows:

  • The vehicle is positioned on a level surface.
  • The engine is warmed up to 60°C.
  • After stopping the engine wait a few minutes so that all oil flows into the oil pan.
  • Take out the dipstick and wipe it with a rag or cloth.
  • Then insert the dipstick as far as it will go.
  • Pull out the dipstick and check the level on the scale.
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There are peculiarities in the checking conditions for some engine types.

V6 diesel:

  • vehicle on level ground;
  • the engine is warmed up to 90 °C;
  • wait two to three minutes after stopping the engine.

V8 petrol:

  • vehicle in horizontal position;
  • engine is warmed up to 90 °C;
  • let the engine idle for one or two minutes;

Wait 10-15 minutes after stopping (oil drains slowly).

How often to check

The answer to this question depends on the mode of operation of the car, the technical condition of the engine and, actually, on the car itself. In Soviet-era cars, the level had to be checked before each trip. Modern cars are already equipped with oil level sensors, not only pressure sensors.

Basically, all cars are equipped with sensors, which signal low pressure of lubricating liquid. But the control lamp often lights up already at the critical moment, so you should not rely on it completely.

A general recommendation is to check the level at least once a week with a dipstick.

Two or three minutes can save a unit from breakdown. It is also recommended to always have a liter of oil with you for a refill. More info:

How to top up correctly

Situations often arise when it is necessary to refill the oil in the engine. “Oiler” can light up on the road and at different times of the year. How correctly and how much to refill, “when cold” or “when hot”?

In a cold or hot engine

Experts recommend filling up the oil when the engine is cold or at a temperature of about 30-40 °C. This way you can more accurately determine the real level, as well as avoid overfilling or underfilling. In general, it is better to achieve the same temperature of the refill and the available lubricant in the engine. These are optimal conditions.

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At subzero temperatures, you should warm the engine up first, then stop it, allow it to cool down and drain the oil into the oil pan. Then check the level and top up.

Another thing is when you need to refill in freezing temperatures in a hot engine, and the oil “to refill” is cold. 50-100 grams will not play a role, but 1 liter of cold fluid in a hot engine will cause a temperature difference and possible unpleasant consequences. This is something to keep in mind.

Can you fill through the dipstick?

Dipstick refill is possible, but not easy. The hole is small and narrow, so the oil will flow slowly and spill over the edge.

What kind of oil to use

The ideal is the one that is already filled. If an identical one is not available, general rules and guidelines should be followed.

It is better not to mix oils of different manufacturers even of the same type (synthetic, mineral, etc.) as different additives are used which can react with each other. If there is no alternative, it is best to use a similar grade and characteristics.

Mineral oils should not be mixed with synthetic oils and vice versa. The same applies to hydrocracking oils.

No more than 15% of new oil should be added.

If you do have to mix different oils, it is advisable to drain them from the engine as soon as possible and pour in a homogeneous composition.

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Is it possible to fill in engine oil with spare

It is categorically impossible to pour with a reserve and above the level. Excessive pressure will be created, which is fraught with squeezing the crankshaft seals, damage of gaskets. Especially in frosty weather when fluid gets thick.

To avoid overfilling, refill oil in small increments, checking its level.

Why does the oil level drop?

Lubricant loss can be natural “burnout” and due to poor maintenance.

Wiper rings remove oil from the walls, but still leave a thin film of oil on them, as well as in the grooves of the inner ring. Thus, the grease gets into the combustion chamber and burns out. This is the “burn-in” consumption.

Increased oil consumption may also be due to other reasons:

  • wear of the cylinder piston group;
  • damaged valve stem seals and rings;
  • leaking gaskets;
  • ingress of grease into the cooling system;
  • emission through the turbine;
  • low-quality oil.

If what’s called “oil consumption” is noticeable, you need to look for the cause and fix it.

Can you change oil less often if you refill frequently

With a big “appetite” of an internal combustion engine (1 liter per 1000 km of run) the right decision is to find and eliminate the cause of the increased consumption. But some drivers prefer to top up oil more often and keep on driving. Chemical composition of lubricant changes and deteriorates, slag appears which is not filtered out anymore. Filling up with fresh fluid somewhat improves fractional composition, but the effect is quickly lost.

We conclude that frequent refilling is bad for the quality of the lubricating fluid. You need to correct the problem and change the oil according to regulations, usually every 10,000 km.

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