How to check and change engine oil

How to check and change engine oil

Knowing how to check and change engine oil in your car is vitally important – we highlighted the consequences of what not enough oil in can do , so knowing how to look for it and rectify the situation shouldn’t be ignored.

That’s why we’ve put together a step-by-step guide on how to check and change engine oil.


First you need to run the engine to warm up the oil – this makes it thinner and will give a more accurate reading on the dipstick. Around five minutes should be sufficient.

Park the car on level ground and turn the engine off. Wait a few more minutes for all the oil that has been pumped to different areas of the engine to drain back into the sump – the area where the oil is stored.


First locate the oil dipstick – this is usually a yellow or red plastic ring near the engine connected to a long piece of metal inside the tube.

As the dipstick will have been in the engine when it was running, oil will have been sprayed all over it – it’s therefore important to take it out of its housing and wipe it clean, before re-inserting it into its tube.

Remove it a second time to get an accurate reading and compare the wet oil mark – indicating oil level – against the dipstick’s ‘Min’ and ‘Max’ gauges.


If your car is running a little low, top it up with the correct grade of oil – consult your vehicle handbook for this information.

Don’t whatever you do try and fill the engine up by the dipstick tube – it sounds stupid, but it has been known. On top of the engine will be a cap with an oil can symbol – remove this and pour the fresh oil in, periodically checking the level on the dipstick by wiping it clean and reinserting it each time.

Remember, too much oil can be just as bad as not enough, so add in small amounts.


If you know you’re going to change your car’s oil, ignore steps two and three above until you’ve finished filling it back up.

If you’re confident in your ability as a home mechanic, make sure the car is safely jacked up and secured on axle stands so it will not fall on anyone working underneath it.

Next locate the sump plug – this is the bolt that holds the engine oil inside the sump, so once it’s removed, it will flow very quickly.


That means you should have a large receptacle that will hold the waste engine oil and some used towels or cloths ready to wipe up any excess or spillages.

Remove the sump lug in one smooth movement – do not worry if it drops into the bucket as you can retrieve this later. At this point, you may as well go and put the kettle on to let the engine’s oil drain fully.


Before you being the refilling process, remember to put the sump plug back in.

On modern cars it’s usually metallic, too, to catch any small pieces of metal floating around in the oil that could damage your engine. If the end of the sump plug appears ‘furry’ with tiny shards of metal, clean these off before replacing.

And when you do put it back in, make sure you don’t over tighten the bolt. Doing so can cause major problems, and with washers on it anyway, it doesn’t need much to keep it oil tight. If you’re not sure about this part, don’t attempt to change your oil – take the car to a professional mechanic.

Check how much oil your engine holds and fill it up to within around half or one litre of its maximum capacity. From here repeat steps two and three as required.


There is another important point to remember when changing your cars oil – once you get a reading on the dipstick, start the car’s engine and let it run. Make sure the oil pressure warning light goes out fairly soon after start-up. If it doesn’t there could be a problem so turn the engine off straight away.

Once the light is extinguished, turn the engine off – letting the motor run for a little while will send oil to areas of the engine where it may pool. At this point you need to check the dipstick again and will likely need to top it up to ‘Max’ on the gauge.


As long as you follow the simple steps above in a methodical and logical fashion, checking and changing your car’s engine oil is really quite an easy procedure.

We’ll stress again that if you’re not confident, don’t attempt to do it – get a professional in to do the job. It’s better spending a few quid to get it done properly (there’s no harm in admitting if you can’t) to save a potential botched job and expensive repairs in the future.

We want to know how many of you out there change the oil yourself on your Hyundais, Mazdas and Suzukis – or whatever car you own.

Why not get in touch and let us know, or leave some more tips for on Twitter @twwhiteandsons or on our Facebook page.

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