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How to Check Engine Oil in Car

A vehicle uses oil to lubricate and clean engine parts that are moving at several thousand rotations per minute. Oil is absolutely essential to the efficient operation of a vehicle, and is arguably the most important fluid in the engine. Failure to keep oil at proper levels can damage a vehicle in drastic ways. Hansma Automotive recommends changing your oil every 5000 km of driving, or 1 year, whichever comes sooner. 

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Why is Oil So Important?

Oil is responsible for keeping your engine clean, cool, and lubricated. Your car's engine works by moving a piston back and forth rapidly, which creates pressure, therefore creating power. These pistons move back and forth at an extremely fast rate - several thousand times per minute. If anything impedes the movement of the pistons, such as some grit or grime, the piston will slow down, lessening the power of your vehicle. That grit and grime will also be abrasive to the piston as it moves back and forth very quickly, thus damaging the piston. Oil is responsible for removing that grit and grime and letting the piston move back and forth in the most efficient way possible. 

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What Happens if I Run Out of Oil?

If your car runs without oil you will severely damage the engine in permanent ways, so much so, that the engine will cease to function. The pistons that are moving back and forth very rapidly will "seize," meaning that they have destroyed themselves due to the lack of proper lubrication.

How Do I Check My Oil?

Luckily, it is very simple to check the oil level in a car. There will be an oil cap, similar to the one in the picture, that will be visible when you open the hood of your vehicle. If you pull the cap off, it will remove a 'dip-stick' from your engine. Near the bottom of the dip-stick will will see oil (it will be a brown or black colour), as well as indicators for low and max oil levels. You want to ensure two things:

  1. Amount of Oil - Oil should be near the max line, and certainly not low.
  2. Colour of Oil - Fresh oil is a golden brown colour (similar in colour to maple syrup), while dirty oil is black.

If the oil is low, or is completely black, you should consider getting your oil changed immediately.