Car Expert's Advice: How to Inspect Your Oil - OHS Body Shop

This might be the most important inspection in all the car maintenance routine. And the good news – you can do it yourself, dedicate only a couple of minutes of your time, and save a lot of money!

Oil is even more important for your car’s engine than blood for your body! It performs several crucial functions:

  • Lubricates the moving parts inside the engine
  • Does not let dirt build up inside the engine
  • Keeps your engine from overheating

In other words, the whole lifecycle of your engine depends on the quality of the oil. That is why spending only several minutes once in a while on oil inspection, you save yourself a lot of time and money spent in a car service later on.

Two problems may occur with your engine oil

  • Low oil level
  • Oil is burnt or contaminated

Luckily, those issues may easily be detected with a simple DIY oil inspection procedure.

DIY Oil Check

To check your oil properly and safely, first, you should go through the manual of your car and see, if it has any peculiarities and specific requirements regarding this procedure. For example, most mechanics will strongly recommend you to inspect oil when the engine is cold, so you would not burn yourself. However, some manufacturers recommend doing the oil check when the engine is warm. Also, while most vehicles have the standard dipstick for oil inspection, some modern models are equipped with electronic monitors, which make the process even easier.

However, in most cases the procedure is pretty standard and does not require any special knowledge and skills.
First of all, you should make sure to park your car in a leveled area and turn the engine off. The only thing you will need for an oil inspection is a rag or a paper towel.

  • Open the hood and find the dipstick.
  • Take a rag or a paper towel, pull the dipstick out, and wipe its tip clean.
  • Insert the dipstick back. Make sure to puck it all the way back into the engine.
  • Now pull the dipstick out again and check the oil level. Every dipstick has a specific oil level indicator. Those may be marks like MIN/MAX, L/H, carvings or bars, etc. However, as long as your oil level is between those two indicators, it is fine.
  • Now take a close look at the oil itself. If it looks dark, muddy, or has a burnt smell, it is time to change it.

The conditioning oil is not only crucial for the proper engine work but may tell a lot about the overall state of your vehicle. If you notice any metal particles in the oil, it may mean that your engine is damaged and its parts are grinding. Don’t hesitate to head straight to a car service to prevent some serious damage and a costly repair. OHS Body Shop has locations all over Montana’s Greater Flathead Valley: in Kalispell, Whitefish, Polson, and Columbia Falls, so you may always get qualified help and advice close to you.

Sometimes oil may look too bright and kind of milky. It may mean that the coolant is leaking into the engine, which is pretty dangerous. Don`t take any chances in this case and have your car towed. OHS Bodyshop Towing Service will make sure that your car is treated with care and respect, while our mechanics will detect and eliminate the problem fast, saving your time, nerves, and money.

If everything looks fine – the oil level is perfect, and its color and smell are not suspicious, put the dipstick back into its tube again and make sure that it is stuck and secured properly. You are done! This simple procedure is crucial for your vehicle maintenance routine. No need to do it every day of course, but checking oil while every other gas fills up is a very healthy habit.