Have you ever wondered about the process of adding and changing the engine oil of your car? Do you even know how engine oil is essential in EVERY vehicle? Should you let your engine cool down before adding new engine oil?
These are the common questions that are asked whenever they want to change their engine oils. Maybe you even asked questions similar to them.
In this article, you’re going to learn if you should wait before adding engine oil, understanding engine oil, how engine oils are used, how do you know the engine is cool enough, how long to let the engine cool before adding oil, checking the engine oil level, and many more!
Make sure you read through the whole thing so you’ll understand every part you read. We also linked some videos for you to watch to make it easier for you to follow some tutorials online.
Should You Wait Before Adding Engine Oil?
Picture this, your engine oil light turns on, and you want to drain the oil pan from the old and dirty engine oil to replace it with a new one. What do you do? Do you immediately go and drain the oil pan? Or should you wait before adding engine oil?
If you know how to add engine oil to your car, you should know that you must let it cool off before adding new oil.
This is important because, for starters, a cold engine (engines before startup) will have oil that has a higher resistance to flow, while a hot engine will expose you to oil that may potentially burn you if you’ve made contact with it.
Here’s a tip for you! If the engine is cold, start it up for about 2-3 minutes, the oil will then be heated up to 100 Degrees Celsius, which will improve the flow state of the engine oil, making it easier to drain and replace.
Similarly, if the car has been driven, let it sit for 20-30 minutes before draining the oil to make sure all of the oil is stored in the oil pan. Subsequently, the question you should be asking yourself is, “Is the engine hot? Or Cold?”.
The engine’s temperature will be the determining factor whether you should wait before adding new engine oil or not.
Overall, we highly recommend you to wait before adding engine oil, especially if you recently took your car out for a drive. Failure to wait before adding oil might risk leaving old oil residue or not wholly draining the oil pan in your vehicle.
Understanding Engine Oil and Its Job in a Car
To make a car move, it needs to burn fuel and make engine parts move by turning the heat of burning gasoline into mechanical work or torque. However, there’s a problem. Without any resistance between components, it could destroy the engine sooner and decrease its lifespan.
That’s where the engine oil comes in. The engine oil is responsible for lubricating the parts and components to ensure less friction between them. Oil is like the lifeblood of an engine.
Excessive friction can cause an increased amount of wear and tear, an overheating engine, and overall a decrease in the vehicle’s performance.
How Engine Oils are Used
Usually, engine oils are labeled with a combination of numbers and letters. For example, one of the most common engine oils is multi-grade oils; you might hear 5W-30 fats in the car shop because it’s one of the most common oils found in vehicles.
Now you may be thinking, what’s a multi-grade oil? What do the numbers and letters mean? Don’t worry. We’re going to take it slow and explain it to you much better.
Since there are many types of vehicles on the rise, the SAE (Society of Automotive Engineers) needed a standard measurement of the chemical properties of the engine oils. A great example of these is multi-grade oils.
They needed to create a grading system that could be a standard measurement in creating oil compatible with different vehicles as long as it has the same grade of oil.
Multi-grade oils have different oil viscosity at different temperatures. To understand this better, check out the table below to see what each letter and number means in every multi-grade bottle of oil you’ll find in car shops.
|SAE Grading System for Engine Oils|
|This is the oil’s viscosity before you start the engine. Generally, machines are cold before startup, so most cars need a low viscosity oil before starting their vehicles.||The letter “W” means winter. Relatively enough to the number “5”, it describes the oil’s viscosity in cold conditions.||The number 30, however, describes the oil’s viscosity when exposed to at least 100 Degrees Celsius of heat. Since cars operate in high temperatures, standard oil may just become thinner, which is bad for the engine because it’s not enough to be lubricated adequately. A multi-grade oil is different because as the temperature rises, the viscosity rises as well.|
Now at first, you may sound confused reading this. We mentioned oil viscosity a lot, so what does it mean? I mean, we mentioned it more than three times, right? Surely it’s something important.
According to TotalEnergies, engine oil viscosity refers to how easily oil pours at a specified temperature. Thin oils have lower viscosity and flow more easily at low temperatures than thicker oils with higher viscosity.
Basically, this means that oil viscosity is like measurement or a grading system that determines the properties of the engine oil in various temperatures.
How Do You Know the Engine is Cool Enough Before Adding Oil?
So now that you know that you should wait before adding engine oil understand what an engine oil’s role is in a vehicle and tell if the engine is cool enough before adding oil.
Well, there are many answers to this question. For starters, one safer option to guarantee that your car engine is cool enough is by waiting. Around 20-30 minutes after you stop the engine should be a great time to wait before touching anything in your car.
The purpose of waiting for that time is to make sure that all the oil in the engine will go to the oil pan. The process of draining the oil pan is simple, yet people still make mistakes in doing it properly and efficiently.
If you kill your car’s engine and decide to drain the oil and add new oil immediately, the old oil currently in the motor that hasn’t drained will be mixed in with the new engine oil.
Mixing old and new engine oil is a big NO-NO. Why is it wrong to mix old engine oil with new engine oil? It’s simple. The old oil is dirtier and more sludgy compared to the new oil. This means your engine will not have a constant oil viscosity which can damage the car.
For example, since the old oil is sludgy (due to dirt and debris buildup), the new oil will also be affected, breaking the engine’s quality. Mixing them would result to:
- Longer Engine Startups – Because the oil’s travel time between the engine and the components will not be the same anymore since there’s inconsistency in viscosity.
- Dirty Engine Oil– No matter how fresh and clean your new engine oil is, it will get dirty and be contaminated if there’s still old engine oil residue.
- Inconsistent Oil Viscosity– The old engine oil has probably broken down already since it was exposed to high operating temperatures. Simply mixing them with newer engine oil will just add even more problems.
- Total Waste of Money– Let’s face it, mixing old oil with new oil isn’t the solution and will cost you even more in maintenance fees because sooner or later, you need to replace all the engine oil in your vehicle if you mixed both oils.
So if you don’t want to have longer engine startups, dirty engine oil, inconsistent oil viscosity, and waste all your money, then you have to follow the proper steps in changing your engine oil, and if you have extra money, why not go to the car shop.
You may pay an extra amount of money for the tools and services, but hey, at least they know what they’re doing. Besides, car mechanics know almost everything about cars. You can trust them in their profession.
How Long to Let Engine Cool Before Adding Oil
Adding and changing your engine oil regularly is essential for maintaining the exemplary engine performance every car owner wants to achieve. We, the car owners/enthusiasts, don’t want to ride on a clunky vehicle, right? Well, you better have a good car maintenance routine.
So far, you should know why you should wait before adding the engine oils, understanding the engine oil and its job in the car, how engine oils are used, and how to determine if the engine is cool enough.
According to PikeTransit, If you add car oil to a recently driven car, you may wait for around 20-30 minutes for the engine to cool down. This way, it will give the oil a chance to settle, giving you a more accurate reading.
If you haven’t used your car and want to change oil, fire it up for at least 2-3 minutes to heat the oil and make it easier to drain it. Wait around 20 minutes, and it should be hot to drain quicker, but not hot enough to burn you.
Handling the oil is essential as well. If you think about it, you’re going to drain all the oil in the oil pan, which means you need to have a container to store the old, dirty, and sludgy oil temporarily.
If you’re experienced enough, it’s safe to say that changing your engine oil is reasonably straightforward. The best part of the DIY (Do It Yourself) method is you can save A LOT OF MONEY on car maintenance fees charged by car shops.
The DIY method of changing oil will only cost you about $75 of engine oil, while taking your car to the car shop roughly costs about $300. Think about the tremendous amount of money you can save. You could save three times the amount if you changed the oil yourself.
Overall, you should give your engine time to cool off to make sure you remove all the old engine oil and not leave residue behind. It’s also essential to ensure that your engine has warmed up beforehand to ensure the oil is at a better flow state to drain it quickly.
Checking the Engine Oil Level
People frequently overlook, skip, and disregard checking the engine oil level. This step may even be one of the essential steps of them all!
Consider this, your engine is overheating, there’s a burning smell from the hood, and your car is unusually loud. You checked the electrical components, checked the tires, and even checked the amount of fuel you put in your vehicle, but why does your car have problems?
Since people disregard changing the engine oil, they skip even check the engine oil itself. Take note that failure to checking the engine oil level when doing maintenance routines may be the source of your car problems.
So, let’s go back to checking the engine oil level. The engine oil level is usually inspected using a slim steel tool found in vehicles designed to tell you the integrity of your engine oil.
Unsure of what the oil dipstick is showing you? Here’s a basic guide on determining what an oil dipstick reading means:
- The first oil dipstick shows a dirty engine oil (which can be seen by the color). However, it’s also below the minimum engine oil level, so it needs to be changed immediatelysince it’s dirty.
- The second oil dipstick reading is a perfect example of good engine oilbecause it’s clean and at the proper engine oil level. It doesn’t go beyond the maximum amount of oil, and it’s clean (which can be seen from its orange see-through color).
- The third oil dipstick is filled with clean engine oil. However, you need to add more oil because it doesn’t reach the minimum amount of engine oil(the ideal amount would be somewhere between the minimum and maximum amount of engine oil).
- The fourth oil dipstick reading has dirty engine oil and low engine oil levels. You need to replace the oil to ensure there’s nothing left of that dirty oil in the engine.
- The last oil dipstick reading shows a good engine oil level but a dirty engine oil. Regardless if you have the right amount of engine oil or not, you still need to replace it if it’s dirty.
These are just simple examples of reading the oil dipstick. This should be a guide of what the oil dipstick is telling you to make sure that you know if you need an oil change or not. We also recommend you make it a habit of checking your engine oils regularly.
Why is it Important to Have a Correct Oil Level?
Now that you have checked the engine oil of your car, you need to know how to check the engine oil and how to read the oil dipstick readings, now you need to know the importance of having the right amount of engine oil in your engine to make sure it runs without issues.
Having too much engine oil is bad. Having too little engine oil level is worse because they both damage your engine, decrease performance, and reduce the engine’s lifespan.
So let’s dive deep into the rabbit hole of having the correct oil level. What can happen if you have too little engine oil? What can happen if you overfill the oil pan? So many questions. Thankfully, the answers to those questions are very simple.
Since the engine oil has so many jobs in the engine (lubrication, collecting & gathering dirt, and cooling), you should never have low engine oil levels. Why is that?
Having low engine oil levels will make the engine operate with low performance but require more power. Hence, it’s going to be inefficient for the engine to run at low oil levels.
Fuel consumption is also going to be a problem if you have low engine oil levels. Since no more engine oil’s circulating in the engine, it’s going to start burning more fuel than usual.
Since having too low engine oil levels is terrible, high engine oil levels are also harmful. Since there are too many engine oils in the engine, it will start a burning smell that can be irritating over time.
There will also be extra pressure on the components since more engine oil is circulating in the engine. Overall, having too much engine oil is bad for the engine, the same way having too little engine oil is bad for the engine.
Frequently Asked Questions About How Long to Let Engine Cool Before Adding Oil
Should I Fill Oil Filter Before Installing?
Yes, definitely. Over time, your engine oil is going to age with your oil filter to the point that even your engine oil might even have a darker color than usual since the oil filter’s already full of dust and dirt.
It’s crucial to replace the oil filter to make sure that you’re running an engine with clean engine oil for optimal lubrication for your machine. Hence, boosting the performance of the engine.
How Often Do You Need to Change Oil?
The recommended frequency of changing oil is around 5,000 to 7,000 miles of mileage. At that point in time, your oil’s chemical properties should be breaking down (because of prolonged exposure to high temperatures).
However, the recommended time to check your engine oil is every month (if your car is entirely normal and working fine) or every two weeks (if your car is old, you need to check it more often).
As long as you constantly check your engine oil level, you should have little-to-no problems when it comes to the frequency of changing the engine oil.
How Much Oil Do I Need to Add?
It depends on the size of your engine and how much oil your oil pan can store. An average car can store up to 5 to 6 quarts of oil in its engine.
One way of determining how much engine oil you need to add is by checking the oil dipstick. This is a trial and error process, but at least you’ll surely know how much engine oil you need to put in your oil pan.
The recommended amount of engine oil is between the minimum and maximum mark in the oil dipstick.
Is it Bad to Mix Old and New Oil?
Yes, it’s terrible, and you’re wasting money by mixing old and new engine oil. We don’t recommend you to do that because it will cause inconsistencies with the oil viscosity throughout the engine.