How To Use a Dipstick

Oil is your car's lifeblood; without it, you wouldn't even be able to drive around the block.  In order to extend the life of your car's engine and to keep it running efficiently and smoothly, you need to check the car's oil levels regularly. When the "Check Eng Oil Level" light blinks on in your car's message center, you must stop and check the oil levels immediately.  You can accomplish this by using an engine oil dipstick.  A dipstick comes with every car and has markings to help you check your oil levels easily.  Follow these simple steps and you'll be able to get a crucial part of your car's maintenance out of the way.

  1. Make sure you car is parked on a level surface.  A level surface is important because uneven ground will make the oil slosh to the back, giving you an inaccurate reading.  Shut your engine off and wait for a few minutes, but not too long.  The oil needs to be slightly warm in order to get an accurate reading.  Make sure the area you are parked in is well lit. Not only will you have difficulties reading the dipstick, but you'll end up stabbing your engine over and over because you can't find the right hole.
  2. Look for the engine oil dipstick - a long rod that goes into your engine and tells you what your oil levels are.  It usually has an orange ring handle for easy gripping and easy detection.  Some cars like the Chevy keep it in the passenger's side of the car. Most dipsticks also have the word "oil" labeled on them.
  3. Prop your hood up safely and wipe the clean end of your dipstick with a rag or a towel.  Insert the dipstick into the engine and make sure it goes all the way in.
  4. Now slowly pull your dipstick out but do NOT turn it upside down to read it. This will make the oil run upward and ruin your reading.  Dipsticks usually have two marks at the bottom - a hole or a line on the stick.  These indicate the safety zones for the safe running of your car engine.  You can read your oil levels by looking for where the oil ends and the dry part begins.
  5. If the oil levels are between the two marks, your oil levels are all right and you're good to go.
  6. If the oil levels reach below the bottom mark, you need to add a quart of oil into your engine.  Never add more than a quart at one time without going for a drive and checking your oil levels one more time. An overflowing engine is one of the messiest things to deal with.

Checking your car's engine oil levels with a dipstick takes only five minutes and will save you a whole lot of trouble. Remember to do this at least once a month to keep your vehicle running smoothly.


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