How to Check the Oil in Your Vehicle

close up view of a man checking engine oil

How to Check Your Engine’s Oil

If there’s one thing you’ll never want to forget, it’s your car’s oil. Your oil is the only reason your engine can do its job, as it lubricates the fine metal pieces while also helping to protect against overheating. If you’re worried that your oil might be in bad shape, you’ll need to know how to check it. For a quick and easy oil change, you can bring your model to our mechanics at Toyota of Poway.

Things to Have Handy Before You Check Your Engine Oil

Before you start checking your oil, see if you have a sticker on your windshield. Mechanics will usually place a recommended mileage and date there, but if you don’t have one, that’s fine. You’ll want to gather the supplies below so that you can check your oil the manual way:

  • Grab a Rag: You’re going to need something to wipe your dipstick with. There are a couple of things that you can use, but generally, rags and T-shirts work wonders. You’ll want to make sure that there’s no lint on the rag though, as you don’t want to introduce foreign contaminants into your vehicle’s oil supply.
  • Your Owner’s Manual: Online guides can be great, but they might not be specific enough. Your manual was designed to tell you everything that you might need to know about your car, so it helps to have it near you.

The First Steps in Checking Your Engine’s Oil

Checking your engine’s oil can be a messy process, so it may be a good idea to wear some old clothing. To begin, you’ll want to follow these steps:

  • Pop the Hood: This can vary depending on your model, but you’ll usually find a latch inside your cabin that pops your hood. From there, you’ll want to head to the front of the vehicle and pull on the lever in the middle.
  • Find the Dipstick: Your dipstick should have an orange or yellow handle, so it won’t be hard to find. When you pull it out, it should be a long sliver of metal.
  • Clean Your Dipstick: This is where that rag from earlier is going to come in handy. You’ll want to wipe off your dipstick so that you don’t misread it later. For example, you might have a lower oil supply now, but the dipstick could have a dot of oil higher than it should be. This is why it’s important to clean it first.

Understanding the Oil Reading On Your Dipstick

Once you’ve finished reading your dipstick, you’ll know whether you need an oil change. If you’re near OceansidePoway, or Escondido, you can count on our mechanics at Toyota of Poway.

  • Dirty Oil: If your dipstick is coming up with a sludge-like substance, it’s almost certainly time for an oil change. Oil can sometimes become viscous and gritty, which can cause problems in your engine. If the color seems off, this can be another indicator that something is wrong. Generally, oil is a bright amber.
  • Low Level: Your dipstick should have a marking that shows you how high the oil should go. If your oil is low, then you’re going to want to immediately schedule a trip to the mechanic.

Once you’ve taken a good look at your oil, you can schedule your next oil change with us at Toyota of Poway.