Expert Advice

Do I need to top off my oil?

Oil Change Wilmington NCTopping off your oil should never be a replacement for an oil change. We recommend a filter and oil change service every 3,000 miles or three months for vehicles using conventional oil. Drivers who use synthetic oil in their vehicles should consider having the oil changed every 6,000 miles or six months. However, it’s not a bad idea to check your vehicle’s oil between oil changes.

Motorists can safely check the oil level with a dipstick. Check the oil when the engine is off and cool. Because the engine and oil heat up when the vehicle is operating, be sure the engine has been off for at least 10 minutes.

After you pop the vehicle’s hood, locate the dipstick. For front-wheel drive vehicles, it is usually located near the front of the engine. Check your vehicle’s manufacturer’s guide or ask your mechanic if you are unsure of its location.

You’ll want to pull out the dipstick and wipe it off to get an accurate reading. Use a clean, lint-free rag so you do not contaminate the oil with dirt or debris. Then insert the dipstick back into the pipe. If you have a hard time getting the dipstick back in, try rotating it 90 or 180 degrees. The pipe is curved, so if it doesn’t slip in easily you may be putting it in the wrong way.

After fully inserting the dip stick, pull it back out. You should be able to see a coating of oil one end of the stick, as well as a series of marks, pinholes or lines that represent the level of oil in your vehicle. Your vehicle’s dipstick might also be marked Min or Max. Check your owner’s manual or talk to your mechanic if you have questions about the indicator markings.

These marks will help you determine if the oil in your vehicle is between normal ranges. If the oil is below the lower or minimum marking, then you need to add oil to your engine. Also take note of the oil’s color. A dark brown or black color is normal. If you notice a light, milky color or flecks of metal, talk to a certified mechanic. You may have internal engine damage that requires diagnosis.

Oil Change Wilmington NC

If you are topping off the oil in your vehicle on a regular basis and in between recommended oil changes, tell your mechanic. Checking the oil gives drivers a good idea of engine health. If you have to top off your engine oil, then there is possibly a leak or other issue.

O’Leary’s Automotive Repair offers oil changes and auto service in Wilmington, Leland and Hampstead, with five convenient locations. Be sure to download our oil change coupons to take advantage of our winter special: an oil change and tire rotation starting at $39.99. Please contact us if you’d like to learn more about our oil change packages.