Engine Maintenance

Is it ok to check oil level when your engine is hot?

Pinterest LinkedIn Tumblr

Checking your car’s oil level is one of the easiest tasks as far as maintenance goes. On most vehicles, you use the oil dipstick to do so. And doing so, we ensure that our engine has enough and not too much oil for its engine to run optimally.

So, when should we check the engine’s oil? When the engine is hot or when the engine is cold?

As always, take a look at your car’s manual.

I usually recommend checking after a drive, but wait 15 to 30 minutes for the oil to ‘settle’. So basically, your engine might still be warm but not cold. And be careful as the oil might still be warm/hot, and so can parts of your engine. Don’t burn yourself.

Different manuals recommend different things – some even recommend checking your car’s oil level when it’s cold.

How often should you check your car’s oil level?

The general recommendation is at every other gas fill-up. I’d do it at least once a month, no matter how confident you are.

I check my car’s oil level every Friday. It might seem excessive (and it is so if you don’t drive that much or your car is newish), but we’re talking about a 15-year-old Renault diesel engine. So I am being extra careful and preventive.

And if you’re wondering why Friday is because something goes wrong, I have a 99% chance to get it fixed by Monday, so I won’t have a bad week next working week. :-))

How do you check your car’s oil level?

It’s quite easy, actually. Here are some steps to a successful oil check:

  1. Make sure your car is parked on level ground. You don’t want to be on a hill or parked a little sideways etc. You need everything as straight as possible to get an accurate reading.
  2. Locate the oil dipstick.
  3. Take it out and wipe it clean with a rag or a napkin.
  4. Put it back in and make sure it’s in all the way.
  5. Wait 5 seconds.
  6. Pull the dipstick back out and check the oil level by looking at both sides. You want it, ideally, right in the middle of the min/max level on the dipstick. If you are dangerously close to the minimum mark or below it, you need to add some oil ASAP.

If you want to re-check the oil level after adding some because, at your first reading, its level was low, wait a couple of minutes for it to settle. (~15min-ish). Then redo the steps.

And if you check like me, after waiting 15-30minutes from a drive, make sure you are careful not to burn yourself on potentially hot parts of your engine or even your oil.


That’s about it.

On some cars, the oil check is electronic. And your car warns you if its oil levels are low. That’s cool, just pay attention to your car, and you’re good. If your car has an electronic check and a dipstick, do check your oil level manually via the dipstick at least once a month – sometimes, sensors go bad.

Car enthusiast. I am dedicated to maintaining my cars as best as I can. I love things that work, and I love keeping them in a good state.

Comments are closed.