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Five Maintenance Tips for Your Car’s Engine Oil

Posted Nov 10 2008 8:07am


Photo courtesy of xmatt

Motor oil is to an engine what blood is to the human body. Oil lubricates all the moving parts of car’s engine, keeps the engine clean by reducing the buildup of dirt, and even keeps your engine from overheating by reducing friction. If your car’s engine oil levels get too low it can cause permanent damage to the engine’s internal parts.

1. Check engine oil levels at least once a month. This usually works out to every two or three times you fill your gas tank. At this interval you will be able to detect any serious problems that have developed, and keep your engine oil level within the optimal range.

2. With the ignition turned off, and your car parked on a level surface, pop the hood and locate the dip stick. If you have trouble finding it consult your car’s owner manual. Remove the dip stick and wipe it clean with a rag of paper towel. Reinsert the dip stick making sure it goes down as far as it can go (until the top of the dip stick handle is pushed down firmly in place).

3. Carefully pull out the dip stick a second time and note how far up the dip stick is covered in oil. Many dip sticks have two small holes representing the minimum level and maximum levels. If the oil line is within that range, you don’t need to add oil.

4. If the the dip stick registers low, consult your owner’s manual to determine the type of oil suggested for your car and conditions. Most automobiles take 5W 30 or 10W 30. Locate the oil filler cap, usually located close to the dip stick. Unscrew the cap and add about half a quart of motor oil (use a funnel, or the top half of an old milk jug to avoid a mess). Give the oil a couple minutes to make its way to the bottom of the reservoir and then check the oil level again by repeating steps 2 and 3. If the oil level still appears low add the remaining half quart, wait a couple minutes and recheck the oil levels. By now the oil level should be within the acceptable range.

5. Change your engine oil as recommended by your car manufacturer, not the oil change business. Places like Jiffy Lube are good places to get your oil changed, but they have a vested interest in your repeat business and often recommend changing your oil too frequently. Don’t go by their suggested interval, rather consult your owner’s manual to determine how often to get the oil changed.

As mentioned, oil is the life-blood of your engine, so take care of it by following manufacturer suggestions in your owner’s manual. A little maintenance on your part, and regularly scheduled oil changes, can extend the life of your car’s engine many years.

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