How to check and change your engine oil
To ensure that your vehicle and its mechanical parts work properly, it is essential to check your engine oil and change it regularly. Here are the steps for checking your oil level and changing your oil.
Check your engine oil and top it up
Oil ensures that your engine is properly lubricated: it forms a protective film between the parts of your engine that prevent wear and friction, thus ensuring the proper maintenance of your vehicle. Without lubrication, the friction between metal parts would damage the engine in just a few minutes. The oil also continuously releases impurities contained in the engine circuit. That’s why it eventually becomes loaded with too much micro-residue, which alters its original physical properties (viscosity) and therefore its efficiency. In addition, oil is inevitably lost over time: most engines burn up part of their oil when they run. It is therefore necessary to check your engine oil level at regular intervals in order to top it up when needed.
Before checking the oil level, make sure your engine is off and cold to avoid burning yourself, and that your car is on level ground, in order to see the exact amount of oil remaining. Open your vehicle bonnet and then follow these steps:
- Pull on the dipstick ring until the dipstick is fully removed, and wipe it with a dry, clean cloth;
- Re-insert the dipstick fully in its pipe, but without forcing it. If the dipstick gets stuck, remove it, wipe it again, and repeat the operation, keeping the dipstick very straight.
- Once fully inserted, pull out the dipstick and check the oil level. To do this, look at the “Min(imum)” and “Max(imum)” marks on the dipstick. If the level is below the “Min” mark, you need to top up the oil;
- Unscrew the oil filler cap, which is near the engine and the dipstick (an oil can is drawn on top of the plug);
- Pour the oil gradually;
- After each top up, check the oil level on the dipstick until you reach the “Max” mark. Do not go higher;
- Screw the cap back on the oil tank and re-insert the dipstick.
How to change your engine oil
The frequency for changing your engine oil depends on the car’s year of manufacture, its mileage, and its engine type (petrol, direct or indirect injection diesel, diesel particulate filter). See your vehicle owner’s handbook to know when to change the oil.
It is essential to change the engine oil according to the dates or mileage indicated by the automotive manufacturer or your mechanic. Otherwise, the engine may clog or become damaged sooner, its performance will no longer be optimum, and the vehicle will consume more fuel.
To change your engine oil:
- As when checking the oil level, make sure that your vehicle is cold and parked on a level surface;
- Open the bonnet and remove the dipstick and the oil filler cap;
- Position your drain pan beneath the oil drain plug located on the engine block;
- Unscrew the oil drain plug and let the oil drain;
- When all the oil has drained, clean the oil drain plug, replace the gasket and screw the plug back on, using a wrench if necessary.
This operation is generally messy, so we recommend having rags available and protecting your clothing.
Before refilling the oil tank, you must also replace the oil filter. To do this:
- Unscrew the old filter with an oil filter wrench and install the new one;
- Remove the pan beneath your vehicle and pour the used oil in a sealed container in order to place it in an oil recovery container at a recycling facility. Important: pouring used engine oil into the sewer system is strictly prohibited.
- Make sure that the oil drain plug is properly screwed on, and pour the new oil into the oil tank, using a funnel to avoid spills;
- Wait a few minutes to allow the oil to circulate through the engine;
- Check the oil level, and top up if needed;
- Screw the oil filler cap back on, start the engine, and let it run for about two minutes, to give the oil time to flow uniformly through the engine;
- Let the engine cool, and check that the oil level is good.
If you can’t change your engine oil by yourself, don’t hesitate to call a professional qualified to service your vehicle or visit a TOTAL Service Station near you.