Car Smart: How to Check Your Oil

Checking your car's oil only takes a couple of minutes, but it's an important way to make sure it's happily running. It's a good idea to give your vehicle a quick look every month. Think of it as a minicheckup for your car that helps detect expensive potential future drama, which no one wants. Always check your oil when the engine is cool, so first thing in the morning would be ideal. Here's what to do:

  1. Grab a paper towel, and head out to your vehicle. Locate the hood release, which is usually found underneath the steering wheel right next to the driver's side door. Secure your car's hood, and give everything a quick look, removing any leaves or debris.
  2. Your dipstick will be close to the front of your engine with a loop for pulling. Gently give it a tug, and remove the stick. Wipe clean, and feed back into the tube.
  1. Now remove the stick again, and check the fluid level against the lines or dots on the dipstick. Give the oil a check for color and smell. You're looking for a nice caramel-colored oil that's free of a burnt scent.
  1. If your oil is below the bottom line, it's time to head to the gas station for a fill-up, which you can do yourself. Check your car's manual to find out what type of oil is suggested for your vehicle, and locate the oil cap on your engine. Pour the oil into the reserve, and you're good to go.
  1. Schedule an oil change every 3,000 to 5,000 miles, and you'll have a happy car for many miles to come!

Want more car DIYs? Check out our helpful tips for a happy vehicle.