How Often Should You Check the Engine Oil Level

Check The Engine Oil Level

If you own a car, do the words “changing oil” ever cross your mind? Have you ever even thought of the risks and reasons why changing the oil? What about the engine’s viscosity? Do you even know what that is?

There are essential things you need to know on how often you should check the engine oil level.

First, you need to know the risks and consequences of not changing your oil regularly. It may mean that you need to purchase new car parts or even damage the engine itself. Second, it’s essential to know about viscosity since it’s relative to the risks of not changing oil.

After that, you need to know the fundamental reasons why you need to change your engine oil, the benefits that come with it.

You also need to know the recommended frequency of changing oil, with the early signs showing that you need to renew your engine oil.

3 Risks of Not Changing your Engine Oil Regularly

Changing engine oil is one of the main steps of doing engine maintenance. Regularly changing oil will make sure that your engine stays in top shape/condition.

This may be one of the reasons why you should start changing your engine/motor oil regularly. Running the risks of not changing your engine oil can be dangerous for you and your engine.

Although changing your engine oil regularly may sound lazy at first, it’s better to change your engine oil rather than finding yourself stuck in the middle of nowhere because you didn’t change your oil.

However, if you’re wondering what the risks of not changing oil, in this article are, you’ll see the risks you are running for neglecting a simple task:

  • The Oil won’t Lubricate Properly.

The main goal of engine oils is to reduce the friction between components with your engine. Engine oils make sure that it reduces the engine’s wear and tear.

However, over time, the consistency and effectiveness of the oil also wear off because of the extreme conditions it has to endure over periods, the friction-reducing properties, and other additives of the engine oil fade out. That’s why it needs to be replaced.

  • You’ll Have Dirty Oil.

Having mucky oil may be one of the primary reasons you should change your engine oil in the first place.

Oil can pick up dust, sediments, and filth which can change the oil’s thickness and texture, damaging the components themselves if not changed regularly.

  • Overheating Engine

Because the oil is dirty, it has a different consistency and viscosity at different temperatures. However, it can cause the engine to overheat because the oil won’t lubricate the engine and its components properly.

According to AA1Car, if your engine is overheating, it may start to detonate. The engine may rattle and ping and lose power. That’s why changing your engine oil regularly is essential for maintaining your engine’s health.

Engine Oil Viscosity: What is it About?

Types of Viscosity

There are different bottles of oil that you can find perhaps in your dad’s garage with various labels on them. Have you ever thought about what makes each bottle so different from the other? Have you ever heard about oil viscosity before?

So, what is oil viscosity? Oil viscosity is the measure of the liquid’s resistance to flow. Viscosity is also related to how dense/thick the fluid can be in certain temperatures. Two main types of viscosity are commonly used for determining the specifications of each engine oil.

Types of Viscosity
Kinematic Viscosity Absolute Viscosity
The resistance of oil to flow is due to sheer gravity. Liquid flows faster when it doesn’t have an external force acting upon it. The viscosity of the oil is measured through internal friction.

So, there are two types of viscosity, and they each play a huge role in engine oils. Weather can also be one of the indirect factors in choosing the oil with proper viscosity.

The engine needs adequate lubrication when it’s starting up. In a cold climate, it is preferred to have a multi-grade oil with low viscosity (to make sure it reaches the engine faster), while hotter areas can have a high viscosity oil (to keep the oil resistance to flow balanced).

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Your oil must have less viscosity when the engine is operating at startup (where parts aren’t that hot) and has a high viscosity when the engine reaches the operating temperature (temperature where the engine’s hot and running) to provide adequate lubrication despite temperature changes.

Now we go back to the question, what do the numbers and letters found in oil bottles mean? In today’s society, it’s widespread that people use multi-grade oils to have better horsepower and gas consumption. That’s our example for today.

Numbers and Letters in Multi-Grade Oils and What they Mean

5 W

This is the number of the oil’s viscosity operating in cold conditions, usually at engine startup. This “W” is for winter. This is the oil’s viscosity at working temperatures. The Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) tests exposed the multi-grade oil to 100 degrees Celsius and measured it with a viscometer.

According to the table above, we’re referencing the multi-grade oil 5W-30. To sum things up, these numbers and letters have meaning, and they play a huge role in choosing the oil for your engine.

4 Reasons to Change your Engine Oil Regularly

Usually, after 5,000-1,0000 miles, it is highly recommended to change your engine oil. These numbers can vary depending on the car brand and model that you have.

There are good reasons to change your engine oil regularly. Changing your engine oil will mean that it will run efficiently by reducing its gas consumption and the wear between parts.

4 Reasons to Change your Engine Oil Regularly

However, there are particular reasons as to why you need to change your engine oil regularly. Here are the four reasons to change your engine oil regularly:

  • Reduce Engine Wear

Newer engine/motor oil means it has a better viscosity at various temperatures. For example, 5W-30 engine oil performs better than 10W-30 oil in cold climates.

Enough lubrication reduces engine wear and tear. If the 5W-30 is old, filthy, and has many sediments in the engine oil, the viscosity changes and doesn’t provide is enough lubrication at startup.

  • Better Gas Consumption

After driving for thousands of miles, old oil gets sludgy over time, and this means there’s not enough lubrication that needs to go to the engine and components.

Lubrication that doesn’t go where it’s supposed to be, the engine gets hotter and robbing the engine of gas, mileage, horsepower, and decreases the overall performance of your vehicle.

  • Longer Engine Life

Provided that you maintain your vehicle in several different ways, changing your engine oil regularly improves the lifespan of the entire engine as a whole. Well, you can’t certainly guarantee that your vehicle will not encounter problems anymore.

However, changing the engine oil regularly will extend the vehicle’s engine life since it maintains its performance and ensures it doesn’t cause unnecessary damage to the engine.

  • Provide Proper Engine Lubrication

Last but not least, proper engine lubrication. Adequate engine lubrication means that the engine works in pristine conditions while reducing friction between its components.

Proper lubrication generally means more significant engine maintenance, maintain engine efficiency, and make the engine perform better consistently over time.

Signs Your Car Needs an Oil Change

Examining your oil is like sending a blood sample to a lab. It contains a lot of information that can be essential in determining your engine’s health and the potential risks of your oil’s condition.

Even if your engine is not making any noises or showing signs of breaking, this doesn’t mean you can’t do some damage-preventing maintenance that can help your engine in the long run.

The frequency of changing oil is generally judged by checking your vehicle’s oil levels by opening the hood of your car, getting the oil stick, and checking the engine oil’s condition.

So, this begs the question, how often should I change my engine oil? There are a lot of factors that answer this question. Here’s a detailed list of the signs that you should change your engine oil sooner or later.

1. Is your Engine Making Weird or Loud Noises?

So, what does sound have to do with the internal problems of the vehicle? The oil that hasn’t been changed for several years is thin, old, and poorly textured oil and wouldn’t do a great job reducing friction in the engine.

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Your engine may make a knocking sound while it is in motion. Old engine oil initiates and creates weird and loud noises because there’s lesser friction between the engine and the components.

2. Do You Think it’s Overheating?

Shorter engine lifespan and lesser performance is the consequence of an overheating engine. Engine oil breaks down when it’s being exposed to high temperatures over time.

An overheating engine is an excellent sign that you should change your engine oil (if you haven’t changed for a long time). The chemical properties of oil dissolve after being exposed to operating temperatures.

This means that the engine oil won’t do a great job of absorbing heat as well as a new bottle of engine oil.

3. Increased Amount of Shaking While Being Idle

In severe cases, your engine may have excessive friction between the engine and the components, causing abnormal vibrations and shaking.

Use this as a sign that you need your engine oil changed because it affects the engine’s health and affects your ride quality negatively.

4. Have you Checked the Oil Dipstick?

One of the best and most well-known methods for checking the engine oil level is checking the oil dipstick itself, asses, and analyze what the oil dipstick shows.

Suppose that you know how to check the oil dipstick yourself. You can do your troubleshooting and make analyses and assumptions of what the oil dipstick is showing.

Here are some of the signs that your oil dipstick is telling you to determine the frequency of changing oil:

How to Read the Oil Dipstick

  • Is it Dirty? Is the Oil Sludgy? How’s the Oil Texture?

Dust, dirt, and different filth can get infiltrate the engine parts and their components. It’s not the engine oil’s job to remove this filth, but it does a reasonably good job at doing so.

Over time, the oil will feel a bit sludgy, and you don’t want that. Sludgy oil will change oil viscosity and consistency the oil initially has without dirt present in the liquid.

A change of viscosity in your vehicle will negatively shorten the engine’s lifespan or affect the vehicle’s performance.

  • Is There Enough Oil?

Usually, the oil dipstick has three markings on the dipstick itself. If it has lower than the minimum oil required, or a higher oil level than the maximum amount of fat, it will affect the engine negatively.

How to Read the Oil Dipstick

One marking is the maximum amount of oil you can put into the oil pan, another is for the minimum amount of oil you need to put, and the third marking is for the convenient amount of oil you need to put, and found in between both markers.

How Often Should You Check the Engine Oil Level

Examining your oil is like sending a blood sample to a lab. It contains a lot of information that can be essential in determining your engine’s health and the potential risks of your oil’s condition.

The simple answer of how often you should check your engine oil is once a month. However, if you have an old car, you may want to check the engine oil level every two weeks to ensure the engine is still running smoothly.

When it comes to checking the engine oil level, you can always do it yourself by pulling out the dipstick to check the oil’s integrity, and there’s no maximum amount of checking the engine oil level every month. Take advantage of this and check it once in a while.

In addition to the frequency of checking the engine oil level, you might want to consider changing your oil in different situations.

Oil Dipstick

For example, the regular checking of the engine oil is done once a month, and however, if you annually drive with a mileage of 5,000 miles up to 7,500 miles, you have to check your engine oil level more often.

Here’s a table showing How Often Should You Check the Engine Oil Level or the frequency of checking the engine oil level in multiple situations:

How Often Should You Check the Engine Oil Level According to the Situation
“Oil Change” Light is Blinking IMMEDIATELY CHECK THE ENGINE OIL LEVEL– This is important because this is an immediate sign that you need to change your engine oil.
Regular Checking of Engine Oil Level CHECK THE ENGINE OIL EVERY MONTH – This should be a standard interval in checking the engine oil. We have to regularly check if it’s clean and has the proper oil level.
Regular Checking of Engine Oil Level – For Older Cars EVERY TWO WEEKS – The older your car, the more time you need to check the oil level. This makes sure that your engine doesn’t suddenly malfunction due to failure in checking the oil level.
Before a Road Trip IMMEDIATELY CHECK THE ENGINE OIL – Changing the engine oil is not completely necessary, but you have to check the engine oil beforehand. It’s a safety measure to ensure that you get stuck in the middle of nowhere because your oil is dirty and below the minimum engine oil requirement level.
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How to Read the Oil Dipstick – What Does it Tell You About Your Engine Oil?

There are multiple ways to interpret the messages your oil dipstick is trying to tell you. However, it’s essential to know what it’s trying to say to make sure you know what’s wrong with the engine oil that’s currently in your vehicle right now.

What you want for your engine is the “Level OK, Clean.” illustration above to make sure that there’s enough oil and you’re running on clean engine oil ready to clean up the dirt, dust, and debris that can potentially harm the engine and its components.

Frequently Asked Questions

How much oil should be in the dipstick?

There should be a conservative amount of oil on a dipstick because it determines the oil integrity and level.

If you look closely at the dipstick, there should be at least three markers. These markers have different meanings, and they should determine how much oil there should be in the oil pan.

To do this, you need to take the dipstick, clean it with a rug, and look at the tip portion of the dipstick, check and see if there are markings. Commonly, three markings are present in the dipstick.

You want to fill up the oil pan to the point that it reaches the marker in between. This is the goldilocks spot of the amount of oil you need in your oil pan.

Should I check my oil when the engine is hot or cold?

This is very important so don’t miss it. You should check your engine oil when the engine is not in motion and has gone through a cool-down period for about 30 minutes to an hour with the engines off.

This is important since multi-grade oils display different viscosity at different temperatures. You need to measure the oil in its base temperature to read the current oil level accurately.

What if I end up choosing the wrong engine oil? What would happen to my engine?

There are different ways to put things. For example, if you lived in a cold climate and purchased a 15W-30 oil instead of 5W-30 (the better option), you would notice a significant difference in startup time and horsepower.

The time it takes for the oil to travel to the engine and its components are crucial for long startup times. Because of the different viscosity, there’s a difference in the resistance to flow in every unique multi-grade oil.

Is it okay if I mix engine oils? Will that change its viscosity?

Mixing engine oil will not blow up your engine or anything, but it’s not healthy at the same time. You see when you mix engine oil (especially if you’re mixing two engine oils with different viscosity), the consistency of oil’s viscosity changes.

This doesn’t necessarily mean your engine will break down. Still, it’s bad practice because you’re going to get an inconsistency of viscosity when you mix engine oil, especially if it came from different brands.

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