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how to check your oil

Checking your car's oil level takes 2 minutes and can prevent your ride from dying a slow, painful death. Take a peek at our video for some slick tips on how to keep things running smoothly without getting your hands dirty.

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A step-by-step guide to checking engine oil levels

On average, most cars only need an oil change every 5,000 miles (yeah, really). But checking your car's oil level about twice a month can help ensure your ride is properly hydrated (and keep you from feeling like a dipstick if you neglect it and blow your engine).

Note: Unless otherwise mentioned in your owner's manual, your vehicle's engine should be turned off and cool when you check your oil.

Step 1: Park on a level surface.
If you park on a hill, you might not get an accurate reading.

Step 2: Grab an old rag or a paper towel.
This will help with the "not getting your hands dirty" part later on.

Step 3: Pop the hood.
You can find the dipstick by locating the curved or looped handle sticking out of the engine.

Step 4: Pull the dipstick out slowly.
Wipe it completely clean with the rag or paper towel you brought. Your oil should be black or golden brown. If it's not, it could mean bigger problems, so it's best to get your ride checked out to see if you need an oil change.

Step 5: Reinsert it all the way into the engine and pull it out again.
Most dipsticks have two lines at the bottom that indicate where your oil level should fall.

Step 6: If the oil level falls between the two markers, you're golden.
If it falls below the bottom marker, it's time to add some more oil. Remember to check your manual for the correct type of oil your car needs.

Step 7: Double-check your work.
Getting a few readings will help you know for certain whether or not your oil level is good to go.

Step 8: Repeat these steps twice a month.
Like humans need water, cars need the right amount of oil to run properly. And remember, checking and topping off your car's oil does not replace regular oil changes.

Step 9: Pass on your newfound knowledge.
Save a friend from killing their engine and give yourself a pat on the back.

Related link

How to jump-start a car
Now that you know how to check your oil, learn how to jump-start your car.

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