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When it comes to routine maintenance, checking your oil is quite inexpensive, only costing you in a few minutes in time, a couple of old rags and of course the oil if required. However, it is commonly overlooked - due to not having the knowledge on how to check and fill your oil or not knowing the importance of having the appropriate oil levels in your car.

Engine oil provides three key functions in a modern internal combustion engine:

  • It keeps engine components working smoothly together
  • It draws heat away from the engine, keeping it cool and stopping it from overheating
  • It prevents carbon from accumulating, keeping the engine clean

Keeping your oil level above the minimum and topping up with the correct oil, will keep your engine in check, so it's important to check this at least once a month (and more frequently with older cars) to see if your oil level is dropping and whether you need to add oil.

If you see your oil level dropping frequently, you may have a leak, which can be fixed at your nearest dealership. For more information on how to check and fill your oil watch our #HandsOnHelp video, or alternately read our guide below:

How to check your oil

1. Make sure your car is parked on a level surface as your oil reading could inaccurate due to the oil tanks angle.

2. Turn off your engine. If your car has been running for a while wait until the engine is cool for the oil to settle to get an accurate reading.

3. Open your bonnet and locate dipstick. This is usually a bright coloured tab next to the engine but the location may differ between vehicles. If you cannot locate your dipstick consult your handbook for its location.

4. Pull this dipstick out, wipe it clean and put back. This is to remove any oil residue to get an accurate reading.

5. Pull the dipstick back out and check the level. If it is between the minimum and maximum oil level your oil levels are fine. If it is at the minimum or lower, oil will need to be added.

6. Using the correct oil is important for optimising your vehicle and using the wrong oil runs the risk of voiding any warranty on the car.

7. Find your oil cap and unscrew it. Consult the manual if you are unsure of its location.

8. Place a funnel into the opening to reduce the chance of spillage.

9. As a guideline, on most dipsticks - though not all - the gap between maximum and minimum will represent about a litre. If the oil level is at the minimum mark a litre will be enough oil for the tank. Pouring oil in small doses and checking the dipstick each time will reduce the chance of overfilling. Overfilling can cause catastrophic damage to the engine, so it is important to get the right levels. If you have overfilled, book in with a qualified professional to drain your oil. Some cars may differ and using your handbook will advise you of specific guidelines for the amount of oil needed.

10. It is advisable to check your oil every month and if the vehicle is older, more frequently. If your oil levels are dropping frequently and you are filling with oil regularly, you should take your car to your local dealership to be a checked by qualified technician who can check for any leaks and problems with your oil tank.

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