Advanced engine technology means today’s cars are exceptionally reliable and can go further than ever between trips to the workshop. That’s good news, but it means it’s more important than ever to check engine oil regularly and top it up if necessary. Failure to do so – or waiting until a dashboard oil warning sign is illuminated – may mean taking a real risk with the health of your vehicle.
Let’s face it, oil is the hardest working component in your engine; it makes the moving parts move more easily, keeps the hottest areas cool and absorbs harmful and corrosive exhaust fumes. A low oil level or missed oil change is the quickest way to wear an engine out, which not only risks hazardous breakdowns, but can also knock hundreds of pounds off the value of your car.
Engine oil levels usually drop because the fluid is leaking or finding its way into the combustion process. This means the remaining oil in the engine has to work harder, becoming dirtier and has a shorter useful life.
The result is that vehicle performance is compromised. The consequences of running your engine with lower than optimum oil levels can be expensive and dramatic, with increased component wear, increased fuel usage, engine over-heating and even total mechanical seizure all possibilities.
So, here are my tips on how to check and top up your oil:
1. Park on a level surface, turn off the engine and wait for 3-4 minutes to allow oil to settle.
2. Find the dipstick, pull it out, wipe and re-dip before taking reading.
3. If reading is less than maximum, check the fill guide to find out which oil grade and viscosity is required and how much you need to add.
4. Remove the oil filler cap on top of your engine, add the right amount of oil and replace the cap.
5. Wait 60 seconds to allow oil to drain into your engine, then follow step 2 again. Add more oil if necessary and replace the oil filler cap.