Quentin Willson's guide to Checking Your Oil
Check your oil at least once a week. Park the car on level ground, wait a few minutes for the oil level to settle and pull out the dipstick which is usually on the side of the engine. Wipe off the oil with a clean rag (with no nasty bits that could get back into the engine) and then push the dipstick back into its hole. Make sure it’s pushed fully home otherwise you might get the wrong reading. Pull it out again and look where the level is. If it’s below the bottom mark on the stick, you’ll need to top up urgently.
Check your car’s handbook to see exactly what the dipstick marks mean. It’s always best to keep your engine topped up to the maximum mark so it gets the best protection and continues to work as efficiently as possible. If your oil is very black and dirty it could probably do with a change, although it can be quite normal for diesel engines to turn their oil black quite quickly. Healthy oil in a regularly serviced petrol engine is usually a light golden colour.
Research by Castrol estimates that 50% of the oil purchased at retail outlets in the UK is the wrong grade to meet the the manufacturer’s specification for the car it is being used in . Look in your car’s handbook, go to www.castrol.com/uk or use Castrol’s text service* to find out the right oil for your car. Synthetic oils may cost more but they last longer than mineral types and give better protection. Castrol Magnatec 5W-30 A1 has a special low friction formulation that actually increases fuel economy in many popular cars that are designed to use an oil meeting the ACEA A1/B1 or A5/B5 specifications. Choosing the right oil is one of the most important ways to make your car last longer. Oil is a lot cheaper than a new engine.
This can get messy, so you’ll need a clean rag and a funnel. Open the oil filler cap, wipe any dirt away from the filler hole and insert the funnel. Open the oil container and make sure any plastic caps or packaging rings don’t get near the filler hole – you don’t want them falling in the engine. Slowly pour the oil into the funnel a bit at a time so it doesn’t over flow. Wait for a couple of minutes for the new oil to drain into the engine and then check the dipstick level again. Keep doing this until the oil level has reached the top mark on the dipstick.
Don’t just pour in lots and overfill your engine as this can strain the engine oil seals and cause permanent damage to the engine. Wipe up any excess oil with the rag and (very important!) make sure you screw the oil filler cap back on tightly.