How Much Engine Oil Does My Car Need?

Have you ever thought about how much engine oil you actually need to put in your car? Are there any risks if I don’t fill in the right amount? Why is engine oil needed anyway?

This article will guide you and inform you about how much engine oil your car needs, the factors that affect the amount of engine oil, the importance of oil viscosity, and several frequently asked questions about engine oil.

Why is Engine Oil Needed?

Why is Engine Oil Needed

As car owners, you need to know the recommended frequency and intervals when changing your engine oil. This brings up the question, why is the engine oil required in the first place?

The engine oil has vital purposes in supporting the engine by helping it run smoothly. The engine and the components around it create a lot of movement and friction between the parts.

This amount of friction can damage the parts in the long run and dramatically decrease the lifespan and performance of the engine overall. However, with the power of chemistry, engine oil helps lubricate the engine and its parts to reduce friction.

But that’s not all. Your engine oil has several uses, including:

  • Reduced Amounts of Heat Build-Up

Not only does your engine oil lubricate your engine, but it also helps reduce the heat build-up present when there’s excessive friction happening in the engine.

The majority of the heat build-up comes from the friction of the engine parts. Engine oil reduces friction. Hence, simultaneously also reduces the heat build-up.

  • Lesser Dust and Dirt Particles

As part of the engine oil’s job, it picks up all the filth and debris present in the engine and its components. It collects all the dirt and stores them in the oil filter.

This way, you’re ensured to have a clean engine that can run smoothly far distances if the engine oil is changed regularly.

  • Protects Engine Parts and Components From Corrosion

One of the engine oil’s key features is reducing oxidation and corrosion between parts, which may run the risk of leaks or other damages to the engine’s cooling system.

Corrosion is commonly caused by running the engine in high temperatures, which will run the risk of oxidation. Engine oils prevent that by reducing friction between pistons, cylinders, and parts that can cause high temperatures if not properly lubricated.

  • Improved Fuel Consumption and Efficiency

Since engine oil provides adequate lubrication to the engine, the parts become slippier. This means it requires less force to operate, resulting in improved fuel consumption and efficiency.

We highly recommend you change your engine oil before you decide to have a road trip to ensure that there’s more efficient gas consumption and you won’t run out of fuel quickly.

Factors That Affect the Amount of Engine Oil Needed

Factors That Affect the Amount of Engine Oil Needed

Several factors affect the amount of engine oil your car needs. Not all cars are the same. As a matter of fact, different vehicles have different purposes.

Trucks can bring extra cargo in their cargo bed, SUVs give more priority to passengers with features for off-road vehicles, and buses are for transporting the maximum amount of passengers within bus stops.

There are different cars, and their engine sizes are different as well. You may start to ask, how is this relevant? The engine’s sizes in each car are different, which means the amount of oil needed is also different.

We’re going to dive deep into the factors that affect the amount of engine oil needed. Here are some of the essential elements that even you, yourself, can discover:

  1. Size of the Engine

The size of the engine is crucial when it comes to determining the amount of oil you need for your engine. Commonly enough, the larger the engine, the more oil you need.

For example, a 4-cylinder engine usually needs around 5 quarts of oil, a 6 cylinder engine requires about 6 quarts of oil. In comparison, an 8 cylinder engine uses anywhere between 6-8 quarts of oil depending on the size of the engine.

  1. Manufacturer’s Recommendations

The manufacturer’s recommendations may be the most helpful factor in deciding the amount of engine oil your car needs. It’s essential to follow their recommendations because they know the ins and outs of your vehicle.

If your car is bought from a car dealership, you can first try approaching them for some advice if you don’t know too much about your vehicle and ask for maintenance tips.

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Some manufacturers even have 24/7 chat support on their websites to help you with all your questions and queries regarding the cars they manufacture. You can also try going to your local car shop and ask for the specifications of your vehicle.

That way, you have a lesser risk of putting too much/too little engine oil in your car, which can cause a lot of damages. We’ll talk about that later as we progress.

  1. Oil Filter Changes

This may not be a factor that can drastically affect the amount of engine oil, but it’s information you need to know.

The oil filter can handle ½ to ¼ quarts of oil. This is important because if you store an adequate amount of oil in your vehicle, there’ll be extra space for the oil with dust, filth, and debris.

What Happens if My Engine Oil is Too Low?

What Happens if My Engine Oil is Too Low

So, now that you know the factors that affect the amount of engine oil you need for your vehicle, the next topic is what happens if your engine oil is too low.

Even if you constantly replenish your engine oil from time to time, knowing what happens to a car if it has little to no engine oil is a bonus knowledge that you can use to diagnose or troubleshoot your car.

In the future, you may use this information if you feel that there’s something off about your vehicle.

For starters, there will be insufficient lubrication (which can cause excessive friction), leading to an overheating engine and degrading the engine’s overall performance.

Since engine oil helps lubricate the engine and the machinery around it, it’s relatively dangerous to start your engine if you know that the engine oil present in your car is lower than the advertised amount.

Here’s a table explaining what happens if the engine oil is too low:

If The Engine Oil is Too Low
Oil Pressure Warning Light Turns On Burning Oil Smell from Time to Time Overheating Engine
When your oil sensor detects that you have low engine oil, the light on the oil sensor will turn on. This will make sure that the driver is notified that the car’s running low on engine oil. Since there’s not much engine oil in the engine, it will be burned by the high operating temperatures in the machine. Since there’s a lot of excessive friction present in the engine (because of no proper lubrication), your motor may overheat, degrading the engine’s performance and shortening its lifespan.

The table above shows only some of the many possibilities that can occur if your engine is running low on engine oil. That’s why it’s highly recommended to check your oil level once in a while to see if you have sufficient engine oil in your machine.

What Happens if My Engine Oil is Too High?

Now that we know what happens if the engine oil is too low, we need to know what happens if you overfill the oil pan. The amount of oil required for the car should not be too low or too high.

That’s why when checking the amount of oil in your car can be seen on the dipstick. There should be three markers determining the maximum amount of oil that can be filled in your engine.

Going over that mark will create harmful effects on your engine and potentially damage it. Here’s a table explaining what happens if the engine oil is too high:

If The Engine Oil is Too High
Engine Damage Spark Plug Fouling Engine Wear
According to TotalEnergies, it can result in oil entering the crankshaft exhaust pipe, running through into the combustion chamber, blocking the suction hose with oil soot, and potentially leading to engine overload. Excess oil can find its way into the spark plugs that need you to replace the spark plugs. If oil levels are over the recommended amount of engine oil, the lubrication of engine parts will not be optimized appropriately, causing more wear than usual.

Oil Viscosity: Its Importance in The World of Engine Oils

Knowing the engine viscosity will improve your knowledge of why it’s essential to keep your engine oil levels balanced. For example, does having the wrong amount of engine oil in your oil pan for your engine affect the oil viscosity of engine oils?

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Some of you may not even know what oil viscosity is or what it means. In this section of the article, we’re going to be talking about the basic things you need to know about oil viscosity and how it dramatically affects your engine in many different ways.

According to MachineryLubrication, viscosity is a measure of an oil’s resistance to flow. It decreases (thins) with increasing temperature and increases (or thickens) with reduced temperature.

Viscosity explains why the oil flow is better during the summer season because it’s easier for oil to flow in temperatures ranging from 25 to 30 degrees Celsius.

So, why does viscosity matter in engine oils? There are a LOT of reasons why it’s crucial, especially if you plan on changing the oil brand that you want your engine oil to be.

Watch Fuel Your Mind: Understanding Oil Viscosity for a better breakdown of why oil viscosity is essential.

Some of the reasons why determining the suitable oil viscosity for your engine is as follows:

  • Run the Risk of Damaging your Engine Significantly

Here’s one of the most common reasons you need to determine the oil viscosity first before finding out the amount of engine oil.

Even if you have the right amount of engine oil in your machine, it’s not going to matter if the oil you used will just do more harm than good. Having the wrong viscosity will create complications in your vehicle’s oil flow, lubrication, and startup times.

First of all, it will give you more hassle and a hard time to change your engine oil again if you have the wrong oil viscosity.

Picture this: you have the right amount of engine oil, but your vehicle has the wrong viscosity. Now you need to drain your oil pan, buy a new bottle of engine oil in the store, and refill your oil pan again.

  • Degrade Engine’s Performance

Having the wrong oil viscosity is like hiring lawyers to fix your broken car. Do you get the idea? Well, we’ll explain it. There’s no use in having the right amount of oil set for your vehicle if the oil can’t do its job correctly.

Incorrect oil viscosity will result in excessive friction, improper lubrication, and inefficient gas consumption. This means the engine will be slower and run out of fuel quickly.

  • Negatively Affect Mileage

Don’t be ignorant when it comes to changing oil. That’s why we’re here to inform you that prolonged usage of the wrong engine oils with inappropriate oil viscosity can create engine complications that may involve you replacing its engine or buying a new car.

If you’re a big fan of road trips, then you have to kiss your car goodbye if you can’t even maintain your car’s health by using the wrong oil for your engine.

Wrong oil viscosity, no matter the amount, will negatively affect the mileage of your vehicle. This means that your car isn’t suitable, nor is it capable of traveling to long-distance places.

Can you Change your Oil on your Own?

Yes, depending on what type of vehicle you own, most of the standard cars enable you to change oil by yourself. This will save you a lot of money in service fees.

Even if the task itself is relatively simple, you should make sure that you don’t change or touch the other parts of the engine if you don’t know what it does.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Make sure that the engine is off and has enough time for the oil inside to cool down to ensure your safety and make sure that you’re changing your oil efficiently and effectively.

Step-by-step Guide on How to Change Oil

  1. Check the Type of Oil and The Amount you Needed

This may be one of the most critical steps that you should pay more attention to. Failure to comply with this step would mean that you have to repeat the entire process.

You should know the size of your engine. For example, an engine with four cylinders would typically need 5 quarts of oil as a base amount of oil. We don’t provide a specific amount of engine oil for your car model. Instead, look it up in your manual.

  1. Gather the Oil Filter and the Tools Needed
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You need to make sure that you gather your oil filter, wrenches, and other supplies needed to change the oil to ensure you don’t waste any time and finish the job early.

  1. Locate the Oil Filter and Drain Plug

The majority of oil filters and drain plugs are located underneath the car itself. That’s why this step will require you to go underneath the vehicle itself and remove the undercover if necessary.

After locating it, loosen the drain plug and unscrew it to ensure the oil is fully drained.

  1. Wait for the Oil to Drain

After unscrewing it, wait for the oil to drain. In the meantime, gather the tools you need in filling up the empty oil pan to make sure you have all the things in one place once you need them.

  1. Tighten the Drain Plug and Change the Oil Filter

If the draining process is already finished, we can move on to the next step, tightening the drain plug and changing the oil filter.

You have to make sure it’s tightly sealed to avoid any oil leaking from your oil pan. You need to change the old oil filter to ensure it still filters out dirt, dust, and filth.

  1. Add the New Engine Oil

After tightening the drain plug, making sure there would be no leaks, we have to add the new engine oil to your oil pan. Ensure that you have a funnel that can help you guide the oil to its designated place to avoid spillage.

  1. Check the Oil Level

For this step, you need to clean your oil dipstick, wipe it with a piece of cloth or rag and insert it into the oil cartridge. If you need to remove excess oil, you can do so by unscrewing the drain plug. If it’s insufficient, just simply add more engine oil.

That’s about the steps you need to do to make sure you change your engine oil with the suitable engine oil in the right amounts. Were you looking for a more detailed guide? Watch How to Change Your Oil and Cartridge Oil Filter to get an idea of how it’s done.

Frequently Asked Questions?

How Much Oil to Put in My Car When Empty?

First of all, you need to make sure that your car oil pan is completely empty before adding new oil in there. That way, we’ll make sure that the old oil leaves no residue.

After that, according to your car specs, you should have a general idea of how much oil you need in your car by checking it with a dipstick or by using your car’s manual to determine the specific amount of engine oil.

Where Can I Find an Engine Oil Capacity Book?

One of the certain places you can find the engine oil capacity book is the vehicles’ manufacturers. Otherwise, you can look into the manufacturer’s website online. If you still have no luck finding it, you can try maybe contacting their customer support.

How Much Oil Does My Truck Need? Does it Have the Same Needs as an SUV?

It really depends on the engine size. If you compare large-scale trucks to SUVs, you can easily say that trucks have larger engines. Hence, they need more oil compared to a standard SUV.

How Much Oil Does My Car Need for an Oil Change? Is There a Way to Know?

Yes. One of the sure ways you can get the specific amount of oil you need for a particular car model is by going to the car’s manufacturers, asking for a copy of the manual, and finding the information you’re looking for in the manual.

You can also try going to your local car shops and asking the mechanics what the recommended amount of oil is needed for your car. If that’s too bothersome, you can try contacting their online customer support for the specific measurement of oil.

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