If you’ve checked the oil level and it’s on minimum, the next thing to do is to learn how to top off engine oil.
The truth is that lots of drivers don’t really know what to do next when they spot this problem.
Should you visit a mechanic, can you do this by yourself, what oil do you need, how much to top up, etc? These are just some of the questions.
Hopefully, this article will resolve all those dilemmas and show that it isn’t that complicated.
At the end of the article, you also have a video on the same topic that you can also watch on our Youtube channel.
WHAT WILL YOU NEED?
Of course, you’ll need some engine oil.
There are various packagings you can buy, the most used and convenient one for this task is the 1-liter container (1,06 US quarts).
The main thing you should know is that you should add the same type and viscosity that’s already in the engine.
It’s very important not to mix mineral and synthetic oil and make sure the viscosity (or density) is the same. Also, It would be preferable to use oil from the same manufacturer.
All in all, when talking about how to top off oil, it would be best to use the exact same one that’s already in the engine. The only compromise you can make is regarding the manufacturer.
Besides the oil, a small funnel will come in handy to avoid spilling around the engine. You can pour directly from the bottle if you have access.
Just try not to spill any around because it can be hard to clean especially if it goes under the engine cover, for instance.
HOW TO TOP OFF OIL?
1. Check the oil level
Before toping off oil, best first check the oil level. You have a separate article dedicated specifically to that topic which you can read by clicking here.
By checking the level you’ll know approximately how much to top up so you don’t overfill.
2. Open the oil cap
Turn the cap counterclockwise and set it aside. Worth mentioning is that sometimes the cap can get stuck and may need a bit of a budge. This happens if you haven’t opened it in a long time.
3. Pour the engine oil
Once more, you can pour directly from the oil container if you’re precise enough but maybe better use a funnel.
Best pour at a slower rate so it doesn’t clog the funnel and perhaps spill around.
What’s important to mention here is that almost every container has a gauge on one side that shows how much oil you’ve added.
This helps in being more precise.
When learning how to top off oil, best determine how much oil you need and then follow the gauge on the bottle.
4. Close the oil cap
Make sure you properly tighten the oil cap, otherwise it may pop off during driving and cause a huge mess.
5. Wait for a couple of minutes and check the oil level again
Best wait a couple of minutes since it takes time for the oil to get down to the oil sump. Check that you’ve added enough and haven’t overfilled.
HOW MUCH OIL TO TOP OFF?
This part is one of the most important ones when learning how to top off oil.
Both too little and too much is bad for the engine. To avoid this, you should pay attention to the dipstick gauge.
On most cars, the gauge on the dipstick shows 1 liter between minimum and maximum.
So, if the dipstick is showing minimum pour about half a liter to reach the middle of the gauge.
If the dipstick is bone dry, you can even pour a whole liter (1 quart).
The best case is when the oil reaches the middle or a bit above the middle mark on the dipstick gauge.
WHEN SHOULD YOU TOP OFF OIL?
The best time to do this is when the oil level reaches a minimum or near minimum.
Don’t wait until it goes under minimum, not that the engine will be damaged but it is at risk.
The best way to find out is by making regular checkups on your car. We’ve made a separate video on this topic, click on the link if you want to read it.
HOW OFTEN SHOULD YOU TOP OFF ENGINE OIL?
It depends on the condition of your engine and sometimes on the engine build.
But if it seriously burns oil you might have to top it off every 1000 kilometers for instance or even more often.
But if everything is ok, you might not have to do it at all from one regular oil change to another.
Some engines consume oil from the factory, and topping on a regular basis is considered normal and necessary.
Best check the specifications of your own engine but to make a loose estimate, everything up to 1 liter or 1 quart on 10 000 kilometers (about 6000 miles) is OK, at least from my own experience.
Also, have in mind that the oil consumption may go up as the replacement interval gets closer and the oil get’s “thinner”.
As you’ve hopefully concluded, learning how to top off oil is a very simple procedure that you can surely do on your own.
Check the level, open the cap, pour oil, close the cap and check the oil level again.
Once more, I must mention the necessity of doing regular checkups and spotting on time if the engine burns oil.
If it does, you or a mechanic should find out the reason.
In the meantime, make sure the engine has enough oil otherwise it can suffer major damage and you might even need an engine rebuild.
In this case, small neglect can cost you a lot of money, time, and nerves.
Never let your engine run out of oil. Because once the warning light comes up, it’s usually too late.
Written by: Sibin Spasojevic
Former car technician, life-long car and DIY enthusiast, author for Despairrepair.com
HOW TO TOP OFF OIL? YOUTUBE VIDEO