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Checking & Filling your Motor Oil


One of the first things you should learn is how to open your vehicle’s hood. Almost all the upkeep for your vehicle is done under the hood so this is a very important step.

Look under your steering column down by the foot pedals. The “pull” is generally near the drivers side door.

If you are unsure where your hood “pull” is check your owner’s manual.

Once you have “popped” the hood from the inside usually there is a SECONDARY LATCH under the front of your hood itself.

It may take some feeling around to find the secondary latch so you can fully open your hood. If you cannot locate it always check your owners manual.

IMPORTANT – When opening your hood you want to make sure it stays up. Some vehicles have a “rod” tucked into the body usually on the right hand side under where the hood rests when it’s down. However, a lot of newer vehicles simply have hydraulic cylinders or some form of mechanical “lift” which will keep your hood in the UP position safely while working under the hood.

Make sure your hood is going to stay UP before sticking your head under there!


Why is it so important to check your motor oil?

Replacing your engine can cost thousands of dollars. Regular maintenance and making sure your motor has enough oil can extend the life of your motor!

You will need:

#1 – Paper Towels

#2 – Funnel – You can also roll up a stiff piece of paper if you don’t have a funnel.

#3 – 1 – 2 Quarts of Motor Oil. CHECK YOUR OWNERS MANUAL to make sure you put the correct type of oil in your vehicle to avoid possible damage. TIP: Keep a quart of motor oil in your vehicle in case you need it and a gas station is not nearby.

A good “rule of thumb” would be to look around and under your vehicle to check for any leaking fluids. Before you begin to drive your vehicle check under it to see if there are any puddles or stains. If it is a hot day and you see a drip coming from under your vehicle DON’T PANIC! During hot weather we tend to run our AIR CONDITIONING to cool off. Many times vehicles can drip condensation (water) from the air conditioning mechanisms. If it looks like water dripping and you have been running your air conditioning then it is most likely not a problem.

LOOK for your oil dipstick. This is generally somewhere very near the engine. Sometimes a vehicle will have a transmission fluid dipstick too. Check your owners manual to make sure you are checking the right one. Another way to tell if it’s the right one is the color of the fluid. Transmission fluid tends to be darker and have a “reddish” tint to it. Motor oil is more brown to very dark brown depending on how old the oil is and what type of oil your vehicle uses. The older the oil the darker it will be. If it’s almost black and “thick” you may want to take it to a shop and have it changed out.

Pull out the dipstick and wipe it off. Then, reinsert the dipstick and pull it out again so you can see how much oil is in your engine.

NOTE: Some vehicle manufacturers recommend checking your motor oil when the motor is warm. CHECK YOUR OWNERS MANUAL to see if you should check your motor oil when the engine is warm or when the engine is cool.

Can’t see the oil on your dipstick? Wipe it off. Reinsert it. Pull it back out and then lay the dipstick on a paper towel (flat) and wipe it down as shown in the image below. You will see the oil on the paper towel. Compare that to the fill lines on your dipstick and you are all set to add the oil your engine may need.

IF your vehicles dipstick shows your engine needs oil then we need to fill it up. Grab your quart of oil and funnel.

Your FILL CAP for your motor oil should be somewhere very near or even ON your engine. There is probably a symbol on it that I believe looks like a genie’s lamp.

Remove the motor oil fill cap and place it on a clean surface or paper towel so as not to get any dirt on or in it. You do not want any dirt or debris getting into your engine.

Put the small end of your funnel into the fill opening. Pour in as much oil as your dipstick said your engine needs. IE: 1 quart, 2 quarts, etc.


#1 – Replace the motor oil fill cap so it is tight and secure.

#2 – Check to make sure you did not leave any caps, paper towels, etc. under the hood. It gets HOT under there so anything left over under the hood can start a fire!

#3 – Close your hood and make sure it is secure.

#4 – Throw away all your garbage in the proper place.

TIP: Create a reminder in your calendar (I use Google Calendar) to let you know when it’s time to check your oil and other fluids again. 3 weeks should be good unless you do a lot of driving.

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