How to check your engine oil?

What is your engine oil used for? 

Engine oil (aka motor oil) is what lubricates your vehicle’s engine parts allowing it function smoothly and continuously mile after mile.  Your engine has numerous parts moving at high speeds or revolutions.  Revolutions (aka RPMs) can range from just under 1,000 per minute to nearly 10,000 when maxed out.  High performance race cars can run all the way up to 15,000 per minute.  That speed creates an enormous amount of friction and heat.  Motor oil allows all those moving parts to function properly.  Checking your engine oil is essential to ensure a healthy vehicle and a happy owner.

 What happens if I neglect my engine oil?

Engine oil does not last forever.  Over time, a few things can happen.  

  1. Oil can get dirty.  Motor oil should be a semi-translucent gold color.  Dirty oil is dark grey or black in color and can begin to clog filters and damage engine components.
  2. Engines can consume oil.  As engines age, they can begin to consume the engine oil.  If your engine is consuming oil, it is a good idea to get your vehicle checked by a mechanic. 
  3. Engines can develop leaks.  Similar to oil consumption, if your engine leaking oil, get your vehicle checked by a mechanic. 

What will you need?

  1. Gloves
  2. Protective eyewear
  3. A lint-free cloth or towel

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How to check the oil?

  1. Make sure your engine is off and cooled down.  
  2. Release or “pop” the hood from under the dash on the driver’s side.
  3. Release the hood lock from under the front of the hood.  You may need to bend down and locate it with a flashlight as they can be tricky.
  4. Lift the hood and secure it with the support rod.  *not all vehicles need a support rod
  5. Locate the engine oil dipstick.  They can come in all shapes and sizes.  Most will have the work “oil” or “engine” on them.  Check your owner’s manual to be sure.
  6. Remove the dipstick, clean it off with a lint free cloth or microfiber towel
  7. Check the end of the dipstick to see how the oil level is measured.  Some will have a min/max or a low/fill while others may have a small pin hole or etched pattern indicating low and full.  Again, check your owner’s manual.
  8. Replace the clean dipstick in the same location you removed it from.
  9. Remove it again and check the levels.
  10. You are looking for proper fluid levels and color.


A full reservoir of clean motor oil will ensure proper performance and increase the longevity of your vehicle’s motor.  If you are unsure about any of these steps, please consult a mechanic.

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Using the links in this article is a great way to support Project Hammer and this content.


Protective Eyewear

Lint Free Towel / Cloth

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