Karla Can!

Learn the proper way to check your oil

For those unfamiliar with the inner workings of their automobile, anything involving popping the hood can seem like a monumental task. That’s certainly the case for CAA staff member Karla, who is a self-proclaimed car novice. Don’t worry, she doesn’t work in the Automotive Services Department! That’s where Michael comes in. He’s agreed to coach Karla on what she needs to know to keep her car safe on the road in this new video series.

First up, Karla gets her hands dirty by learning the proper way to check your engine oil.

Checking your engine oil regularly is an important part of maintaining your vehicle’s health. If you let the oil level get too low, disaster can ensue. Low levels, or really filthy oil, can cause engine problems, including complete failure. But don’t panic just yet. It’s easy to check your oil yourself and avoid those costly repairs!

The first step before undertaking any kind of car maintenance is to get out your owner’s manual and get familiar. Each make and model of vehicle can vary greatly, so it’s important to know what the recommendations are for yours. If you’re at all unsure about your automotive skills, take your vehicle to a trusted mechanic and have them do the work for you. There’s no shame in having someone else help you out, since it’s never a good idea to do any work on your car if you aren’t completely confident.

The best time to check your oil is first thing in the morning after your car has been sitting all night. If the engine’s been running recently you may not get an accurate indication of your oil level.

In order to check your oil, you are going to need to pop the hood. If that’s something new to you, take a look inside the vehicle near the driver’s side door. There is usually a lever or a button with a picture of an open hood on it. Still can’t find it? Take a look in your owner’s manual.

Once the hood is open, locate the oil dip stick – not to be confused with the transmission fluid dip stick! Once you’ve found it, pull it all the way out and completely wipe it off on a rag or any other piece of cloth you don’t mind getting dirty. Then, once it’s clean, put it all the way back in.

Pull the dip stick out a second time to get an accurate reading on your oil level and to see how clean the oil is. Make sure you hold the dip stick down when you’re checking it. Holding it upwards allows the oil to run and means your reading may be off.

Many new vehicles have indicator lines or dots directly on the dip stick. If your oil is between the markers, no need to add more. If it’s below the line, look for the oil receptacle and pour the new oil in through there. Be sure to check that owner’s manual again to find out what type of oil is best for your vehicle!

Also take a look at the colour of the oil before putting the dip stick back in. The blacker it is, the dirtier it is! So if your oil looks darker than midnight, it might be a good idea to take it in for an oil change. Having trouble seeing it? The more recently you’ve had your oil changed, the harder it is to see it on the dip stick. If that’s the case, lightly touch the dip stick with your finger to determine how high the oil level is.

Join Karla and Mike next time as they walk you through how to check the tire pressure. Properly inflated tires give you more grip on the road, and can even help you cut down on gas costs!