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How often should you check your oil level?

Did you know that your oil is often a good indicator of your engine's health? So, how often should you check the oil level in your vehicle?  In the days before oil level sensors, many drivers checked their oil level, using the dipstick, at least once a week.

That may not be necessary these days. Having said that, it's worth remembering that your motor oil is as important as any other engine component. You should check your oil level at least once every couple of weeks or before a long journey and in older cars, maybe even more. 

Even if you're driving a brand new car or highly engineered European model, environmental factors such as fuel quality, extreme temperatures or stop-and-go driving can increase the amount of oil your engine uses.

It's essential to change your engine oil at the intervals recommended by the manufacturer.

How to check your oil levels?

Firstly, make sure that your car is on level ground. It’s also best to check your vehicle’s oil levels when the car is cold. 

In most cars, the dip stick handle is brightly coloured for example, yellow or green, however if you’re unsure check your vehicle manufacturer’s manual. Now remove your vehicle’s oil dip stick fully using a clean cloth to wipe off the oil.  You’ll note there are maximum and minimum markers on the dip stick. If the oil is anywhere between these two markers it’s ok to drive the car, however if below the minimum marker you shouldn’t drive the car until the oil has been topped back up.

Having wiped the dipstick clean of oil, next replace it in the tube pushing it all the way down. Then remove it again and inspect the oil level. If the oil is low then fill it up.

What to do if your oil is low?

The first thing to do is fill it up using a good grade of engine oil so that the level is within the recommended amount. Wait a few days to a week, before checking again. If your oil is low again it indicates that there may be a fault, such as a leak, which could cause your vehicle significant damage. You should take your vehicle into a garage so that a professional mechanic can diagnose the issue.

How often should you change the oil?

It is also important that you keep track of how often the oil is changed in your vehicle. Oil is usually an amber colour when fresh, but over time it turns darker. Although this is an indicator that it's ready to change a more reliable guide is the amount of miles and time since it was last changed. When you have your car serviced it will have an oil and filter change; this is just one reason to keep your vehicle's service history up to date.