Low engine oil levels may damage the engine’s internal components. It may even cause the car to break down completely if left unattended – leaving you with no other choice but to sell it. Low engine oil isn’t a total threat, but it’s always a good idea to keep them in check after every few weeks.

Here’s how you can check your car’s engine oil level:

These 3 deadly contaminants don’t just cost you money when the engine gives out.

It also affects the engine in efficiency and power. Although oil filters exist, some of these are difficult to prevent entirely, and avoiding them may not even be necessary.

And that is where a simple oil change comes to the rescue. Still, suppose you neglect and forget to monitor your car’s engine oil health. In that case, you’ll begin to suffer from minor to major headaches.

So are you ready to find out those contaminants that are lurking around trying to kill your engine?


Let’s dive in!

1. Water is Life but not for your Car’s Engine

Water is ever-present in the environment. And, unless you live in an arid region, water co-exists in oil in essentially the same way it co-exists in the atmosphere.

So how does oil get into your engine?

A car that is not being used regularly collects water because of condensation (cold air enters and water condenses) and also from combustion byproducts. But if you drive your car enough, it will burn off this excess water during normal driving.

Water may also find its way to your engine because of a coolant leak due to a bad gasket, an engine crack, etc.

This amount of moisture is enough to kill your engine, and you’ll start experiencing issues that’ll require care from a professional mechanic such as loss of power, oil sludging, etc. Consult your mechanic when in doubt.

Not only does water have a direct harmful effect on machine components, but it also plays a direct role in the ageing rate of lubricating oils.

Damage caused by water in your lubricating oil can be prevented with a regular oil change. It can be flush and be refreshed with new and clean oil.

2. Don’t Let Fuel In

Fuel going into your engine lubrication system is more related to engine malfunction. However, there are also cases that fuel just typically finds its way
going to your engine lube system and changing your car’s oil will definitely help in preventing any catastrophic event when done regularly.

So how does fuel get into your engine?

Fuel dilution (“crankcase dilution”) of the engine oil is a problem that faces many modern combustion engines. It happens 8 times per 1000 rpm for each cylinder, and whilst it occurs in every engine, it is a factor that contributes a significant amount of wear to the engine.

Having poor seals, leaking injectors, or poor combustion settings can bring
colossal damage to your car when fuel leaks and mixes in with your engine oil.

Fuel can slip past the piston rings during operation and contaminate the oil in the crankcase. Direct-fuel-injection engines are particularly prone to fuel dilution due to the high pressures under which the fuel is injected into the cylinder.

Fuel dilution can drop the viscosity of motor oil from, say, a 15W40 to a 5W20. This collapses critical oil film thicknesses, resulting in premature combustion zone wear (piston, rings and liner) and crankcase bearing wear.

3. Thick And Black Soot


Soot is a fine black or brown powder that can be slightly sticky and is a product of incomplete combustion that forms inside your car’s engine.

So how does soot get into your engine?

When the air and fuel mixture that powers the engine fails to completely ignite, there’s leftover matter called soot.

Excessive soot thickens oil and negatively affects viscosity, which means the engine has to work harder to start and run during cold temperatures.

You could also potentially get air quality fines because soot will overload the emissions control system of your car.

Changing the oil at the manufacturer’s recommended interval is the easiest way to help prevent soot buildup. Either you’ll go DIY or pay us a visit and we’ll be happy to help you out.

So to keep you from any trouble and major issues you might experience from contaminated engine oil, regularly change your oil and check it once in a while.

So here’s how you can…

How to Check Your Car’s Engine Oil Level Like A PRO

1. Allow Your Engine To Cool Down First.

As a thumb rule, it’s best to avoid checking oil levels while the engine is hot. Wait for a few minutes – it allows the oil to settle  in the lower oil pan from different parts of the engine. This also allows the oil temperature to reduce to some extent.

Pro Tip: Check your car’s manual for specific instructions as some car manufacturers do not recommend checking the oil level on a cold engine.

2. Park the car on a flat surface

Make sure that your car is parked on level ground. If your vehicle is on a hilly area or bumpy patch of a road, it will show an incorrect reading.

3. Prepare the Dipstick

Look for the yellow-coloured dipstick cap, usually kept in the centre of the engine compartment inside the bonnet. Remove the dipstick and wipe it clean with a clean cloth before testing the oil level. Use fabric that’s spotlessly clean and doesn’t have any moisture or dirt on it since these may affect and damage engine components if they get inside.

4. Check the oil mark

Insert the dipstick back completely after wiping it clean. Hold it for a few seconds and then pull it out.

Keep an eye out for the oil mark, which should be between minimum and maximum marks.
The dip-stick usually has L / H (low / high) or Min / Max (minimum / maximum) readings on it.

If the engine oil level is low, it’s time for a top-up! 

Caution: Use only the same quality of oil to prevent any harm to the engine components. It’s a general rule of the thumb to never add more oil than what’s recommended by your manufacturer.

5. Fill the engine with fresh oil and repeat the procedure

The oil filler cap – usually kept next to the dipstick cap – can be used for the oil top-up. When filling up the oil, be cautious not to spill it on other components of the engine. Allow a few seconds before rechecking the oil level due to its high viscosity, it takes time to settle.

It just takes a minute or two to check the engine oil level once every few weeks or before a long trip. On the other hand, this preventive step may save you from severe engine damage, which otherwise can result in expensive replacements.

If you are looking for a car mechanic in Christchurch, you can call us at (03 379 7446) or book an appointment online.