How to check your oil and why oil changes are so important…
Changing the oil in your car routinely will help to prevent damage to the vehicle later down the line. Over time, oil can become contaminated with dirt, debris and dust from the environment and from the engine, which can have an impact on it doing it’s job of keeping all the moving parts lubricated. When the oil starts to break down, it is beneficial to both your vehicle well-being and your wallet to get it changed regularly so not to have to pay out for replacing costly engine parts later.
We have listed some of the top reasons to get your oil changed regularly:
- It removes dirt – changing the oil will remove wear particles and sludge which can cause corrosion and engine damage. Keeping the engine clean is vital to longevity of your vehicle.
- It maintains engine lubrication – the moving parts under the bonnet create friction and heat, and when not properly lubricated, can wear down over time so as well as changing the oil. You must also frequently check to ensure that it is topped up to the correct level (we have outlined how to check your oil level later in the article).
- It makes your fuel last longer – you will get better mileage out of your fuel tank if you have sufficient oil in your car. When the engine is not lubricated properly it can lead to increased fuel consumption.
- It helps to cool the engine – as mentioned earlier, the moving engine components create friction and therefore generate heat, so if your parts are getting hot it can lead to all kinds of issues and damage. Oil helps to prevent this by keeping the parts lubricated and moving properly.
- It will help your vehicle to stay healthier, for longer – simply put, maintaining your car regularly will help it to last longer and not cost so much to fix in the long-run.
Checking your oil level is something that we usually have to learn in order to pass our driving test. But for those of you that are not sure, we have put together a list of steps in order to help you re- visit it:
Step 1 – Make sure your vehicle is cool and parked on a level surface. Trying to undo the oil cap whilst the engine is hot, can be dangerous. Ensuring the car is level will help you get a more accurate reading.
Step 2 – Open the bonnet of your car and, if necessary, prop up using the stay which you will find across the front of the engine bay. You can wear gloves or use a rag to protect your hands if you choose to as engine dirt and oil can be difficult to wash off.
Step 3 – Look into the engine bay and you should see a kind of hook or circle shape on the end of a stick or rod, which is just big enough for your finger to fit through. This is your Dip Stick and is used to check oil levels quickly. On some models of car the dip stick and oil filler cap are yellow making them easy to identify.
Step 4 – Remove the dip stick gently and use your rag to wipe off all the oil from the stick as it will likely not be an accurate reading where the oil has been moving around whilst you have used the car.
Step 5 – Replace the Dip Stick, pushing all the way in and then remove gently again, taking care not to let the end of the stick touch anything on it’s way out. You will see a series of marks at the bottom end of the stick which show where the oil level should be. There is a maximum limit and a minimum. Your level needs to be somewhere in the middle but not too low and not exceeding the maximum oil level required for your vehicle.
Step 6 – If your oil level is too low, you can top up your oil easily at home. Firstly, check your car handbook or call us to see what grade of oil your car requires. This is very important as you must use the correct one. You can also purchase a funnel which you can keep with your oil supply for future use to avoid spillages.
Step 7 – Locate your oil cap in the engine bay. This will likely be a metal cap with a small oil can icon on it (usually a yellow sticker but some vehicles may vary). Open the cap and place it somewhere safe so you don’t lose it. Place the funnel in the hole and pour in enough oil to cover the imbalance. Start by pouring small amounts, letting it settle for a few minutes then checking the Dip Stick again to make sure you have not put too much in. Keep going until the oil is above the half way mark, but below the maximum level required.
Step 8 – Replace the oil cap securely and keep the rest of the oil and your funnel for the next time you may need to top up your oil level. Close the bonnet by lowering it to about 3 or 4 inches above the engine bay and then drop it so it clicks into place – this will avoid slamming it shut and damaging it accidentally.
So now you are a pro oil checker! And if you haven’t recently, maybe it’s time to think about booking in that next car service? Get in touch with our team if you need any advice on the above and we will be happy to help.